When talking to people about Data Portability there is a couple of questions that always gets asked first.
Why would a vendor allow users to leave their service?
Why make it easy for users to take the preacious data you have about them and use it on other sites?
What is the business justification for letting data walk out the door?
You spent a lot of time and energy to get users to sign up and give up their data right?
My answer always consists of a number of parts. There are a number of reasons why vendors should get involved in an open ecosystem of data interchange. User respect, reduced barrier to entry, reduced network fatigue and more.
Today, however, I'd like to focus on one particular reason why the value of Data Lockin is a myth.
Here is a diagram that represents the data you have about your user. 100%. Awesome right? You have a complete view of the proprietary data you have managed to collect about your user.
Have you ever considered, however, that your user's data actually looks like this?
Even if you are Google, and you know every search your users do, every document they write, every chat they have - you still don't know their facebook social graph. You don't know their tweet stream. You don't know the books they bought on Amazon.
Your view of your user's data pales in comparisson to their complete data set.
Not to mention the data you think you have is out-of-date weeks after you aquire it. Interests change, friends come and go, projects, assignments and jobs change and much, much more.
So, Data Portability is not about letting your users 'walk out' of your service. Data Portability is about enabling, empowering and encouraging your users to bring all their data with them, to connect your data to the rest of their data ecosystem and to continue to refresh and maintain the data on an ongoing basis.
The value of Data Lockin is a myth. Data Portability is an opportunity to have true visibility into a user's friends, interests, content and comments.
Are you thinking about joining the data web?