The idea of social data portability - "the option to use your personal data between trusted applications and vendors" - has been around for some time now. The DataPortability Project is focused on consumer-oriented sites, and not corporate internal use. The Project people even say so.
Perhaps it's time, though, to change that. Let me tell you a story.
I recently got a new job. I decided to "go new" on many things, including a new hairdo (it's swingy!). Then, I thought, "I know! I'll update my profile picture!" That's when I got irritated. See, I belong to... (counting, hang on)... well, damn. I have profiles that include my photo on these social sites:
Jive Brewspace (internal deployment of Clearspace)
Jivespace (external deployment of Clearspace Community for developers)
Clearstep (another external deployment of Jive Clearspace Community for user adoption and other business practices)
Ask me how long it took to update my photo across all these sites. Now, think about how I also had to change my place of work, email address, maybe a mobile phone number, etc. Yeah. Now you understand the need for social data portability. But really, that's just the surface.
So, what's the data portability picture for the enterprise?
Data portability for the enterprise means blurring even more the lines between enterprise and consumer personal data, and more importantly, making folks more aware of who and what people know, both inside and outside the enterprise.
Let me explain.
Think about all the bits and pieces of your worklife, strewn about all those different systems: HR systems, skills databases, LDAP directories, employee whitepages, LinkedIn, etc. Wouldn't it be great if you could manage all that personal data from a single spot? It can live where it lives I would call it data transparency, though, not data portability. This can already be accomplished by using data mapping tools in market today, but it takes some serious customization muscles to pull off, not to mention many lunches and cocktails to woo the czars in charge of all of those internal systems so they play nice.
At least with the consumer sites, this becomes easier when enterprise social software systems support data portability. For example, we announced today that we're supporting the DataPortability Project, alongside LinkedIn, Google, Facebook, and others. This means that, if you're using Jive Clearspace inside your enterprise, or Jive Clearspace Community in an external customer and/or business partner environment, your people will eventually be able to plop their LinkedIn or Facebook or other consumer profile information into their Clearspace profile, hopefully with ease and aplomb.
And then, think about all the relationships you've created, not only inside your organization, but on all those consumer sites. With everyone supporting the DataPortability Project, I'll be able to display (not port) all the people I'm connected to out of Facebook, FriendFeed, Twitter, etc., in my intranet and extranet profiles. That way, my colleagues and customers can more easily see who I know, and more importantly, in what context I know them. Context is critical to understanding the nature of a given relationship. Without that understanding, it's kinda useless to know that I know someone.
Let's take this idea a step further: Why on earth would anyone I work with want to see who's music I listen to on last.fm? Because, those folks might actually be valuable contacts within a different context. And, my Jive colleagues might be able to begin a trusted relationship with them based solely on similar music tastes. This is a wonderful way to tap the voices of thousands over time, especially if creating innovative products is your thing.
Imagine what could eventually result from a conversation about how much two people love the Dixie Chicks, for example.
Now, to take this idea another step even further, read Sam's take on data portability.