The growing popularity of social networks may give users more flexible communications options, but it’s also given IT a number of headaches to deal with, including security, privacy and even bandwidth issues.
Tightly regulated industries like health care and finance, as well as government agencies, face the further compliance burden of having to store and manage the content produced in social systems like Twitter and Facebook.
After launching as a tool designed to help enterprises capture instant messaging sessions in a sort of universal inbox, Dexrex Gear launched its ChatSync 2.2 product this week, the latest version of the cloud-based platform that now covers Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook sessions.
According to market research firm IDC, the compliance infrastructure market will grow to $55.1 billion by 2011. A significant part of the compliance pie will be managing social networks and instant messaging, either as a standalone app or integrated with other services such as e-mail. By 2013, 95 percent of workers in Global 100 organizations will use IM clients as their primary interface for computer-based, real-time communications, according to another IT research firm Gartner.
“The nature of enterprise communications is changing drastically with the rise of instant messaging, SMS and social media, in a fashion similar to the way e-mail altered the collaboration landscape over a decade ago,” said Brian Babineau, Senior Analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group, in a statement. He added that enterprises should be planning, if they haven’t already, to update their archiving strategies to include “new age collaboration and communications mediums.”
ChatSync 2.2 captures text-based messages from Twitter and other social media using a client plug-in, proxy or SIP
“Our philosophy is that this shouldn’t be spyware or Big Brother, but about integrating a place to get all your stuff,” Dexrex CEO Derek Lyman CEO told InternetNews.com. “People are going to use social networks whatever the company policy might be.”
Lyman said the design of ChatSync was influenced by research he read about putting mirrors in retail outlets to cut down on thefts. “What they found is that with the mirrors, self-perception goes up and people steal less,” he said.
While it’s up to individual companies’ IT departments and management to decide how they want to make content available, Lyman believes the ideal implementation is to make it a tool for end users to be able to retrieve their communications as necessary, as well as a way to meet compliance regulations and other e-discovery needs. Much like the situation with e-mail, knowing that chat and social media content is accessible to IT and management is meant to infuse a degree of self-regulation in what users say.
“We don’t want to be the black box that comes back to bite you in the ass later,” Lyman said.
Rebecca Wettemann, vice president of research at Nucleus Research, said users could benefit from having centralized access to their communications. “From a productivity perspective I could see it as an advantage. When you think about all the different places we have information, it’d be nice to be able to access all this stuff from one place,” Wettemann told InternetNews.com.
Emerging social media content
In Lyman’s view, the industry is at an early stage in learning to manage the emerging social media content.
“What we’re saying is that first you need to capture and retain the information and then get it into a structured archive that the end user can access through a portal or inbox. With that in place, there are opportunities to add value in terms of automatic compliance like flagging keywords,” he said.
Since ChatSync is extensible to other corporate systems, companies can decide how they want to manage the data. For example, any content that includes social security or credit card numbers might be flagged for breaking privacy regulations.
ChatSync 2.2 is offered on a per-user licensing basis of $1 to $2 per user month, depending on volume.
“We’re trying to make this a nominal cost for an important data capture service,” Lyman said. “We’re focused on compliance right now because that’s the low-hanging fruit, but we see this being more broadly adopted because there’s real end-user value, as well as for the organization.”
David Needle is the West Coast bureau chief at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.