Microsoft SharePoint: Enterprises Get Boost by Integrating Social Tools

More enterprises are seeing the benefits of layering social networking tools into SharePoint. How can you customize SharePoint and make it more social? Two large organizations share tales from the trenches.

By
Fri, February 26, 2010

CIO

If anyone still thinks "Enterprise 2.0" is just a catchphrase, think again.

Wikis, microblogging, discussion forums, social bookmarking, online groups and communities, and other tools that have come to comprise "social networking software" are marching into enterprises at a rapid clip.

Just ask any beleaguered CIO.

Workers, particularly younger ones, are demanding that the social tools they use via Facebook and Twitter spill over into the workplace. In addition, the cultural clashes that once prevented senior management from adopting social tools are waning.

Ironically, no one knows this more than Microsoft (MSFT), and with the upcoming release of SharePoint 2010, the company is integrating more social networking features to keep up with nimbler companies that sell social software to enterprises.

SharePoint MySites
A typical MySite profile page in SharePoint 2007.

Nearly all of the main Enterprise 2.0 vendors — SocialText, Jive, Newsgator, Atlassian — have built their social apps to be compatible with SharePoint. The fledgling vendors strategy — and hope, it would appear — is that entrenched customers will integrate their tools into the big mother ship SharePoint.

Yet at the same time these vendors compete with Sharepoint, and that competition will only increase when the more social-friendly SharePoint 2010 ships.

Tying Social Tools to the Business

One enterprise that has seen success integrating social tools into SharePoint is consulting giant (and former Tiger Woods endorsee) Accenture.

More and more lately, the IT department at Accenture has noticed a thawing in senior management's resistance to social networking tools.

"The best line from a senior executive I've heard is, 'I get that I don't get it, but we need to do it,'" says Kevin Dana, Accenture's director of enterprise social computing and collaboration.

[ For complete coverage on Microsoft's new Windows 7 operating system -- including hands-on reviews, video tutorials and advice on enterprise rollouts -- see CIO.com's Windows 7 Bible. ]

Two years ago, Accenture began experimenting with social networking through SharePoint's MySites, which are profile pages that include a profile picture, job title, skills, e-mail and calendar information, document libraries and a list of co-workers (dubbed "Colleague Tracker").

But the MySite profiles turned out to be more like a static roster and were limited in how much they can be customized, says Dana. What the company needed were official Accenture Groups where employees can become members and have a main site where they can share information about a certain industry or subject through wikis, microblogging, tagging and social bookmarking.

Accenture ultimately chose to integrate Newsgator's SocialSites suite into SharePoint 2007 to build on existing SharePoint social tools. After pilot testing the Newsgator suite from March 2009 until the end of August, Accenture flipped SocialSites into production mode this past September.

Continue Reading

Our Commenting Policies