Social Media Migrations: Expect the Worst

By James Watson posted 06-11-2010 16:38


Given the craze to stand-up internal collaboration capabilities, often referred to as Social Business Software, I can’t help wondering what will happen in three years or so, when the vendor marketplace starts to consolidate. 

Take the example of a global organization that sets up a community portal for its 60,000 employees. The CEO begins posting corporate communications, and everyone jumps on board.  Great things, right?  Even though the 60,000 employees are spread around the globe, they are now collaborating and sharing ideas.  (No joking, good stuff.)

Consider that all of the user profile information, project posts, and chat, as well as the associated artifacts from this community portal are sitting in a proprietary database and/or written to a file system using proprietary indexing schemes and naming conventions. 

But also consider that most of the leading suppliers of these Social Business Software tools are smaller firms (5 to 50 employees). What happens when the market consolidates, as it inevitably will do over the next several years? Sure, you hope your supplier prevails, but the odds are they won’t.  What do you do with all of the data the 60,000 employees provided over the past three years?  You have to migrate it.  And because many of the systems are hosted via a SaaS offering (meaning one size fits all, and the system is outside of your direct control), you can’t just connect a new server to the old one and suck it dry. 

This is when I start to worry. 

Yes, I’m an advocate of social collaboration.  Yes, I can see why many organizations are experimenting with these social tools, given how successful they have been in the consumer marketplace.  But, yes, we need to have a longer-term vision for the data these systems are creating – often referred to as “knowledge.”  And given the supplier landscape today, eventually the social content will have to be migrated (or abandoned). 

Just out of curiosity: Do you know anyone who has completed a migration off of

James Watson, Jr. PhD can be reached at 312-881-1620,, or tweet me @jameswatsonjr

#ElectronicRecordsManagement #electronicrecords #soicalmedia