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Enterprise Collaboration Gets More Social With SharePoint

SharePoint mirrors the features that keep millions engaged on popular social networking sites to give organizations an out-of-the-box solution to spur enterprise collaboration and innovation. As the social medium grows, users want the same tools at work that they use in their personal lives to share vacation pictures, funny videos and other content. Many of the social features in SharePoint 2010 map directly to the features and functionality that workers already use to stay in touch with business contacts and friends on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Activity Stream: Much like the Facebook Newsfeed, the Activity Stream in SharePoint aggregates status updates for colleagues or content users have chosen to follow. This gives workers more exposure to projects and activities at all levels of the organization and an opportunity to offer feedback or suggestions where appropriate. Content from external social media sites can even be pulled in to create a centralized location to manage all social media.

Social tags: SharePoint includes an enterprise keyword set for high-level data organization and social tags for user-generated categorization. Social tags are akin to tagging a friend’s photo or post to create an instant connection between your friend and the content. SharePoint does the same by allowing users to apply their own tags to content and sites to, for example, pull all elements related to a project or all documents associated with a specific real estate transaction. Social tagging also includes other features like ratings and a “Like it” button to assess how valuable a site or piece of content has been to other users.

Rich Profile Page: Most email or contact database entries focus on metrics like phone number, email address and other surface characteristics that give no indication of the user’s work or background. The profile page in SharePoint gives users an area to share their contact stats and expand their visibility by listing recently touched content, social activity and group memberships. The profile page also lists users’ self-reported areas of expertise. With the “Ask Me About” feature, users can ping co-workers for help in their areas of expertise.

Just like popular networking sites, the data that comes from these social features are re-purposed to improve search results. Expertise analysis uses keywords in emails, with noun phrase extraction for six languages and tags associated with a user to determine and share areas of expertise. Custom application development on the social features of SharePoint is seeing massive growth. The extensibility of these features opens up endless possibilities for organizations to quickly plan and execute new social applications.

IT departments that currently have SharePoint are struggling to determine how to leverage the social capabilities of SharePoint while other companies are turning to SharePoint specifically to launch their own social initiatives. Our team of SharePoint pros can help you determine the best way to integrate the social aspects of SharePoint into an organization. Bring your SharePoint questions to the SharePoint in the Cloud LinkedIn group for feedback from our team of SharePoint experts and a community of other SharePoint pros.

About the Author

This is a post written and contributed by Laura Rogers.

Laura Rogers is a Senior SharePoint Consultant and a Microsoft MVP. She has eight years of experience in SharePoint implementation, training, customization and administration. Her focus is on making the most of SharePoint’s out-of-the-box capabilities. She works extensively with SharePoint Designer workflows, InfoPath and Data View Web Parts.

Follow Laura on Twitter: @WonderLaura.


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