Can Social Networking Enforce Content Governance?

By John Brunswick posted 07-08-2010 09:36


The chasm separating excitement levels around social networking and governance could not be wider. Governance has never been, and will never be a fun topic. It is something that is necessary like washing dishes, going to the dentist or paying bills. However - without performing these activities on a routine basis, we will not have a pleasant existence. The same is true with the content in an enterprise. Interestingly, there is the potential to gain significant value from the hidden intersection of two seemingly strange partners - social networking technologies and governance enforcement - to help make the process of governance one that people naturally participate in.

Lack of Drivers
A driver needs to exist for content governance to become a focus for a team or individual. Unlike the physical workplace where the lack of cleanliness is quickly noticed, the digital world enables people to develop and maintain poor information management habits. It would be unacceptable for someone in the office kitchen to constantly pile used dishes and mugs in the sink, but somehow it is perfectly acceptable for people to pile content that is outdated, incomplete, never accessed, orphan or no longer relevant into content systems. Most platforms include some level of reporting around these potential infractions, but it may not be deemed cost effective to implement governance processes that mandate reports are executed and action taken on the stale or offending assets. That is where the genius of enterprise social network can passively make what was once hidden completely visible in a relevant way - making the practice of good content governance part of a user's everyday life.

Adding Personal Visibility
As companies deploy social networking technologies to support expertise location and business directory functions they have also implicitly provided a foundation to make once invisible and irrelevant data, completely personal and completely relevant. The reports that the content system generates on what assets have not been accessed, are orphaned, have incomplete metadata can now be bound to a user or group of users in the organization. Just as "badges" have grown in popularity on the commercial web at Foursquare and Huffington Post, it is possible to visually bind any sort of status from backend systems to a user profile.

The image above is an exaggerated example, but highlights how a user would most not likely be comfortable as being singled out for having poor content governance skills. In our sample image Arthur Clarkson may have a series of documents that violate metadata rules, have not been opened in more than 3 years or other violations that we can see from reports in the underlying content system he has diluted for his fellow users.  It is our social nature as humans to seek acceptance from our peers - we can see in this case that Arthur is strongly incented to clean up his existing content, as well as practice better habbits moving forward.

It would be interesting to see how this type of visibility, based on information already in the enterprise, could change users behaviors around content governance. Without this type of visibility with their colleagues, it is hard to have the motivation to maintain content in any reasonable manner.

Has anyone attempted anything like this in their enterprise?

#socialnetworking #governance