LinkedIn Contacts vs. LinkedIn Policy: Now This Issue Can’t Be Ignored

April 26th, 2013 | by Jason Alba |

LinkedIn Contacts is one of the coolest things LinkedIn has released.  They should have done it years ago.  They really should have just acquired JibberJobber years ago, but oh well :)

LinkedIn Contacts is the closest thing to CRM that LinkedIn has released.  It comes from some strategic acquisitions, one directly affecting this new feature (or almost-spinoff) and one that should have but might later.  More info on that at the TechCrunch post.

Aside from the excitement, or the problems, I want to address a problem that no one is talking about.  Let me use the issues of cloud computing (that is, having your data out in the cloud, which means no on your computer… it is on some company’s server that you have no control over) that is brought up on this Huffington Post blog post as well as the original source in this blog post: Dumped! by Google

You can read those but the bottom line is that Tienlon Ho used Google for all of her stuff (Gmail, Google Drive, etc.).  And she did something that Google didn’t like, so they kicked her out.

The issue I want to talk about is not hacking into the server by bad guys, or their technology failing (which happens, but the sites are usually back up in minutes or hours)… I want to talk about POLICY.

In Tienlon’s post she says:

“Google not only reserves the right to take away or vaporize our data for any reason…”

Do you realize that when you use a cloud system you give them permission to…. do what they want with your data or your account?

Listen… there are reasons the cloud is awesome.  You don’t have to worry about YOUR hard drive anymore, which is a pain. I was an IT manager and dealt with failed hard drives, backups, lost data, etc. all the time.  The cloud allows you, a normal person, to essentially have a full IT team providing protection against all that (as well as server updates, upgrades, etc.).  It is awesome.

But it has been vulnerable to things, like hackers and downtime (just like your computer is vulnerable).

Again, the issue I want to talk about is POLICY.

I’m going to share an email I wrote to a few hundred career coaches this morning about this… I hope this simplifies it.

Recently [on that list for career coaches] we’ve seen a thread about getting locked out of your LinkedIn account because of putting titles in the name field on a Profile… right?

That is a POLICY issue.

This week LinkedIn announced Contacts, which is getting closer to good/real CRM (which competes against JibberJobber :) :) ). <– that is my disclaimer

They do some things right with Contacts, some things not so right. The biggest heartburn I would have, though, in recommending it, is their POLICY.

What if you do something against the user agreement and they lock you out for a day or a month or until you beg on your knees for your account back?

I’ve seen this coming for a long time… it is a clash between their policy and your need for data.

If they locked you out of LinkedIn before, it wasn’t the end of the world. It could hurt, sure, but it was mostly a place to find and research… not a place where all of your CRM notes were (including action items, etc.). It was an inconvenience but many could go on without it until it you could resolve it and get back into your account.

Very time sensitive data, though, like phone numbers, email addresses, and dates of follow-up… that is different.

If LinkedIn doesn’t change their POLICY, and they still have a heavy hand on when they will disable accounts, I would never, ever, ever recommend someone store their CRM data there. Why? Because you could lose access to your rich information you’ve gathered because of one of their rules that has to do with social networking, which is different than your private storage of stuff in a CRM.

This is a huge issue.

POLICY.

Many have said this is their playground. Do you like their rules? What do you trust them with?

The cloud issues become more sensitive when the data is more critical.  Lose your Pandora settings?  NO BIG DEAL.  Life will go on.

Lose your entire CRM system that you’ve been putting information in over weeks or months or years?  That is a HUGE issue.  And the current policy isn’t going to cut it.

Now, let’s talk about JibberJobber.  JibberJobber is a cloud-based personal CRM system… so what is the difference?

It is simple.  Because we don’t have to come up with stupid rules (like don’t put something in a field that doesn’t belong there (ie: email address in a name field)), we don’t kick people out for lame violations that they may not have even known they violated.

We don’t have to worry about people spamming Groups and comments and other users because we don’t have those features.  We are more of a pure CRM.

Our POLICY allows you to do stuff you want without worrying about whether you are going to get locked out of the system or not.

In this discussion, that’s the big difference.  We’re still vulnerable to the other cloud issues, but I can comfortably write a post about this POLICY issue knowing that we have that taken care of.

What do you think… are you ready to use LinkedIn Contacts?  Or is that the type of data you really want to have somewhere else, where you aren’t under the heavy dictatorship of whimsical POLICY and repercussions?

  1. 10 Responses to “LinkedIn Contacts vs. LinkedIn Policy: Now This Issue Can’t Be Ignored”

  2. By Melissa Cooley on Apr 27, 2013 | Reply

    When I saw your original post on the discussion list, I hoped that you would write a blog post about this topic, Jason. I agree – the cloud is great, but if there are concerns over losing access to precious data, that’s a huge issue that can’t be ignored.

  3. By Susan P. Joyce on Apr 29, 2013 | Reply

    For me, naturally, using a vendor’s “cloud” is a very big loss of privacy issue in addition to the vulnerability to loss of data or loss of access to the data.

    Both are very scary and, for me, the reason I don’t use “clouds” except to sync my Apple products.

  4. By Jason Alba on Apr 29, 2013 | Reply

    @Melissa, I do have concerns. I know others don’t but the policy and how LI has enforced it in the past is questionable.

    @Susan, yeah the cloud thing is still an issue depending on your comfort level. Pretty much everything is in “the cloud” and has been… the term has just become popular as it’s become more consumer-oriented. I just read an article in my paper about more accounts “compromised” at a life flight organization. Not what we woudl consider “the cloud” but it definitely has all of the potential security issues any other cloud has.

    Convenience vs security. Common sense says go for security, but convenience sure is a powerful motivator!

    Anyway, there are many pros and cons of cloud, but I wanted to just focus on the policy issue on this post. Maybe another post for the other cloud issues…

  5. By Lonny Gulden on May 9, 2013 | Reply

    Jason,

    You’re right, LinkedIn policy sucks! Before I would embrace it as CRM they will have to offer me the ability to export 100% of my data (contact info, notes, etc.) into a .csv whenever I so desire and upon closure or suspension of my account. I believe this is part of SalesForce.com’s functionality and user agreement. My bigger issue is that the LinkedIn system just doesn’t work as advertised!

    A few years ago LinkedIn capped 1st level contacts at 30K. This would imply that LinkedIn would support users with up to 30K contacts with full functionality. As most “power networkers” have found, once you start hitting 10K+ contacts LinkedIn begins to fail. With over 18K 1st level contacts I can no longer export my contacts or use any function that requires loading my full contact database, e.g. removing a contact, requesting a recommendation or using the new “mention” feature. This is true even though I am a premium member. I have filed trouble ticket after trouble ticket, LinkedIn acknowledges the problem but has to date for a scheduled fix.

    Between LinkedIn policy and reliability, it can not be considered for “mission critical” use at this time.

    As you may know, Steve Burda is contemplating pursuing legal action. I’ve had only one class in business law, but it sure seems this may be a violation of the Implied Warranty of Merchantibility.

  1. 6 Trackback(s)

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  5. Sep 27, 2013: I’m On LinkedIn – Now What??? » Blog Archive » And then LinkedIn got sued… privacy, hacking, trust issues.
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  7. Sep 17, 2014: I’m On LinkedIn – Now What??? » Blog Archive » Goodbye Contacts, Hello Connected, CRM meets Artificial Intelligence (AI)

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