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Dell Software to Help Enterprises Migrate Social

On the quest for improved collaboration and communication, enterprises are increasingly using social networks in day-to-day work activities. But with all these new communication channels taking root in business, challenges around integration and migration persist. This is where a new tool from Dell Software comes in.

Dell Software yesterday announced the release of Migration Manager for Enterprise Social, the latest in the company's growing IT management solutions and services portfolio. I spoke with Randy Rempel, senior product manager at Dell, to get the skinny on the new solution and what it means for enterprise communications.

With Migration Manager for Enterprise Social, users can migrate Jive discussions to Yammer, Rempel said -- but more about the details below. First let's take a look at the use trends Dell discovered as it researched the role social plays in businesses.

Enterprise Social Use
Dell sponsored a study with Dimensional Research to better understand social networking's use for enterprise communications. Through a survey of 202 business and IT executives at companies of more than 2,000 employees, it discovered that employees were using a range of personal social tools for internal communication, including:

In addition, the survey identified the most popular installed or supported enterprise social tools among respondents. They are:

Connecting with colleagues across the organization is the most common purpose -- according to 75% of respondents -- for using social tools, the survey found. Other top uses include collaborating on team projects (74%), quick communication via chat (67%), sharing ideas and innovations (66%), staying up to date on company news (61%), searching for information or assistance with a question (56%), and holding virtual team meetings (47%).

As you can see in the slide below, the survey also found that increased collaboration is the biggest driver for enterprise adoption of social tools:

For those who may be questioning whether enterprise social is of significance when it comes to the full scope of issues with which enterprise IT may be grappling, this data shows not only that enterprises are using social media, but also that in doing so they're creating a new set of problems. Much in the same way that information siloes emerge if enterprise applications like ERP and CRM are not integrated properly, the use of a variety of social tools is creating similar communications siloes.

"I look at [social] like it's a business tool," Rempel said. "To me this is the next iteration of this type of solution. We've seen it in the past; we've had email, which did amazing things compared to how information moved around an office before. ... Then you went into some other collaboration solutions like Lotus Notes and SharePoint, which again is very nice, but those all sort of stand alone."

If you wanted these tools to do more, you had to customize them, Rempel said. This is workable, but every company or department is customizing to serve its own purposes, and that becomes expensive. Social platforms that you put everything together on for everybody to see are the next iteration of collaboration, he said. Businesses don't have to actually build a solution, they just need to configure it -- which is much easier and less costly.

Enterprise Social Migration
Now that enterprise social networks are maturing, Rempel said, they are becoming part of an enterprise's overall application strategy -- which also means there are higher expectations of them. The goal at many organizations has transitioned from reaching a point of maturity with enterprise social to one of consolidating the platforms in place.

Because social tools are often brought into an enterprise by individual departments, a large enterprise may find itself needing to support and maintain a range of disparate social networks -- many of which have redundant functionality and content, Rempel explained. As a result, enterprise IT is faced with trying to control collaboration silos. The big challenge, he added, is efficiently migrating this content in a way that minimizes duplication and ensures relevancy of ported content. Too often, migrating content will result in some downtime and even data loss, which can negatively impact employee productivity.

One of the main benefits of Migration Manager for Enterprise Social is that it can eliminate the cost and resources required to support redundant social networks by facilitating the consolidation of Jive and Yammer content, Dell said. An enterprise can effectively centralize user collaboration while maximizing investment in tools like Yammer and Office 365.

Using the tool's discovery dashboard, the migration team can discover the Jive environment and then use insight gleaned in that process to determine which content it should move to the Yammer environment and which it should eliminate, Dell described. Further, the solution aims to mitigate risk by "migrating with high fidelity and minimal downtime, while retaining permissions, metadata and rich text" -- features that any enterprise IT manager tasked with migrating social content will find necessary.

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