Migrated from eDJGroupInc.com. Author: Barry Murphy. Published: 2010-06-03 08:57:17  As an analyst, I’m always looking to spot trends.  I scan news articles, press releases, and bloggers I find interesting on a daily basis.  Sometimes, the subject matter is all over the place; but other times, I see a topic repeated over and over.  That’s when I know I have a topic for further study.  One trend bubbling up recently is the need to control social networking content (e.g. Twitter, FaceBook, and LinkedIn) for compliance and/or eDiscovery requirements.  The stories indicating this trend come from both the solutions side and the real-word side of things.Solution providers make money to solve problems that their customers may not have faced yet.  That’s why solution providers need to be out ahead of the trend curve.  One of the ways an analyst can sense trends is by looking at the stories solutions providers are telling because that is usually a good indicator of where a market is moving.  Two solution providers recently put out stories about managing social networking content for compliance and eDiscovery. Sonian, a provider of on-demand, hosted corporate data archiving powered by the cloud, announced functionality for archiving of social media and instant messaging (IM) communications.  The solution is aimed at compliance with regulatory mandates such as FINRA and FRCP, including the new FINRA regulation governing social media use (which essentially says that broker-dealer business conducted via social media must be maintained as a record), enacted in early 2010, as well as litigation readiness.  With Sonian, organizations can archive social media communications that take place on platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. It also allows archiving of IM communications on services such as Yahoo! Messenger, Google Chat, MSN Messenger, AIM, Microsoft Office Communications Server and other platforms. The company claims that IT departments will have the capability to select which personal and business accounts are relevant, and include or exclude them from archiving accordingly.  I’m meeting with Sonian next week to learn more about how this functionality works and to tease out the elegance of the technology behind the solution versus any kind of marketing hype.  But, it’s always the upstart vendors that find a way to innovate on interesting challenges, so I’m excited to see this strategy from Sonian.Another solution provider, Applied Discovery, announced its SM-ART services offering.  SM-ART stands for Social Media- Assessment, Risks, and Techniques. The service, delivered jointly by Applied Discovery and Sensei Enterprises, provides consulting services to help organizations prepare for audits, investigations, and litigation by providing proactive consideration unconventional unstructured electronically stored information (ESI).  That’s a marketing sentence if I ever heard one, but, kudos to ADI and Sensei for getting out ahead of the curve on social media.  ADI is a services company with eDiscovery expertise to deliver.  Why not partner with a forensics consulting company to help clients attack social media within the eDiscovery realm?  Having a codified methodology to address the challenge helps to sell the solution.While solution offerings can be early indications of a trend, real-world stories prove trends out.  A blogosphere posting came through eDiscoveryJournal about LinkedIn evidence being part of a lawsuit.  The case is one about a company suing former employees about violation of a non-compete agreement.  Messages sent through LinkedIn are at the crux of the case.  Social media content is topical and I think that companies will be on the hook for discovery of some aspects of social media.  While there are a lot of unanswered questions about social media content in the context of eDiscovery, there is one practical piece of advice I can give to any organization – create policies around the usage of social media in the workplace.  In cases where social media is for personal use only, try to limit its usage on company machines.  When social media is for business use, it will make sense to archive it, especially for important custodians.In the near-term, the ADI approach might make sense – bring in experienced consultants that can help with social media policies, as well as collection and preservation of these new content sources.  Over the long-term, place a bet that the trend will be to have standalone software and SaaS-based solutions to manage social media content.

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