Enterprise social: managing data and content

People network abstract
Finding structure can be the hard part

For a lot of businesses adopting enterprise social collaboration its big appeal is as an information resource that can generate and store lots of data and be tapped into as needed. The key to making it work is managing the data so that it is accessible, useful and secure.

"Finding unstructured information is notoriously challenging and discovering insights others may have contributed is really quite challenging," says Richard Edwards, Principal Analyst at Ovum. "Using simple keyword searches is fine if everyone does a diligent job of highlighting keywords and hashtags.

"Search technology can really help with this, but I don't think there is any solution on the market today that would have 10 out of 10 in that regard. That is something that needs to be looked at very closely."

He adds that malicious content, malware and attachment hygiene also create issues, along with backup and restore. At the end of the information's life archiving and record management come into it.

Enterprises that have just got to grips with their security and data protection responsibilities around the likes of email and databases may wonder where to start.

"In the 'social era' there is a lot of buzz around openly sharing everything you do," says Alan Lepofsky, Vice President and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research. "That is often not practical at work, as organisations still deal with large amounts of confidential data.

"Just because sharing is good, it does not mean information from legal, financial, patents, research, etc should be available to all employees.

"Social software has raised a whole new set of security concerns, just as blogs, wikis, instant messaging and all the other forms of collaboration did before. A mix of guidelines, rules and technology are needed to help protect information.

"For example, look at the things Box is doing via partnerships with data loss prevention vendors like Code Green Networks, CipherCloud and Proofpoint."

He adds: "From a storage perspective, the amount of data is rarely an issue. What starts to become a problem is sorting, organising, searching, etc."

Avoid fragmentation

Effective use of enterprise social collaboration should address the problem of managing data rather than create it. US and UK branches of SEGA's Digital Business team use Huddle to avoid fragmentation of information across teams and keep track of content versions.

All conversations and feedback on content are stored in one place.

"For gaming projects, it's pretty crucial to make sure everyone is synched up and working with the latest documents. Game design documents get tweaked and updated constantly and it would be a pain to dig through email attachments to make sure you are looking at the latest version," says Chris Olson, VP Digital Business.

"With Huddle, we can see what changes have been made to what files and by which members of the team and revert back to old versions if necessary. For our teams in Japan, spreadsheets are still the de facto tool of choice and they can sometimes get rather unwieldy so version control and tracking is particularly useful for these."

Before adopting Huddle, the team relied on email, shared network drives and file transfer protocols to collaborate on projects.

"But when the game's producer is based in England and the marketing team for the same game is sitting in an office in California, everyone ends up drowning in emails and it soon becomes unwieldy," Olsen says.

"We've legacy systems, such as SharePoint, that are used elsewhere in the business, but we wanted something less complex and cumbersome and more innovative that enables us to get the job done and work effectively with people inside and outside of the firewall. We had also briefly considered Yammer (prior to Microsoft buying the company) and felt it was focused less on productivity versus being a social network for your company."