Software-as-a-service has exploded in popularity over the past 10 years because it makes deploying, maintaining and upgrading software much easier. One of the realities of SaaS is that your data is no longer on your own servers. What happens if you decide you want to switch from one vendor to another?
The data that your customers have created in your branded community is yours, no questions asked. You should also be able to get a copy of that data, no questions asked.
We’ve seen vendors talk a good game when it comes to data portability but then throw up all kinds of obstacles when a data dump is requested:
- Ransom note: Charge thousands of dollars for a single data dump
- Keeping hostages: Say the dump request is backlogged beyond the date of contract renewal
- Delivering the hostage harmed and battered: Export to file formats that are difficult to reconstitute on another platform
- Irreparable trauma: Require customers program their own exports against incomplete APIs
It’s paradoxical to see vendors attempting to retain customers by antagonizing them. I guess when that IPO is in sight, customer relationships be dammed.
When it’s time to launch a new customer community, make sure to get in writing that you can get to your data easily and own it completely, no questions asked.
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