AUSPC 2011: Daniel McPherson on 'Social Computing Meets the Enterprise' in SharePoint

Zevenseas Daniel McPherson presenting on Social Computing at the AUSPC 2011

Beginning his presentation with the acknowledgment that there is a "whole lot of snake oil with social computing," Daniel McPherson stated that his goal this afternoon was to boil social computing down to something that's realistic and useful to the enterprise.  "Social computing is where the knowledge management train dropped us off," Daniel observed, saying that today, "knowledge management is driven by you and me and is being done outside companies" via the various social networking sites which are available to users.  Citing communication as an understandably important aspect of knowledge management, Daniel said that traditionally the communication options were limited to one-to-one or one-to-few, but stated that the same methods don't work with a much larger audience, i.e., an enterprise intranet.  Daniel suggested that better ways to communicate with broad audiences exist now via social computing ... not IM, but Twitter, and not email, but blogging.  Daniel went on to say that the problem with knowledge sharing with, say, email, is that the knowledge tends to stay in the inbox of one individual and is thus inaccessible to the rest of the enterprise.  As such, the need is to make it just as easy to blog as it is to email, since so much knowledge is lost because, when compared to sending an email, it's "hard to publish on the intranet." 

As Daniel pointed out, social computing provides a feedback loop (tags, comments, sharing, liking, re-tweeting, etc.) which in turn enriches the original content by leaving a trail from which others may benefit, and providing a means for others to determine which content is the best.

Daniel said that "users don't see a difference between Internet and intranet," and the competition for the attention of users includes every social network available today.  Running through several of them, and calling out the reasons they're successful, Daniel offered the following insights:

  • "Facebook won the social graph [because] they really understood the importance of mapping out people's relationships to other people ... everything is better with friends."
  • Twitter started out as a side-project of a company working on a video project and, as a result, the notion of "real-time Web was reborn" with Twitter. Daniel cited the limitation of 140 characters as being a "positive constraint."
  • YouTube grew "on the back of MySpace" because MySpace didn't have the ability to stream video, so YouTube was initially developed to make the MySpace platform better.
  • Wikipedia is "a long tail play" focusing on "unleashing the niche" content-wise.

Daniel numbered among the pros of SharePoint the fact that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts ("the number one reason to go with SharePoint"), its positive constraints ("SharePoint supplies 80% of the key functionality you need"), it's built for the enterprise (including governance, on-premises deployment, and security out-of-the-box), it's a rich platform with partnership opportunities for third-parties, and native integration with the Office suite.  Daniel numbered as SharePoint's cons that no single feature is best of breed, there is a long release cycle, cost of entry, and SharePoint/Microsoft is more a follower then a leader, citing Twitter versus SharePoint status updates as an example.

Daniel suggests an "embrace and extend" strategy to attack the challenges that SharePoint presents and, as an example, provided a demo in which he has extended a standard SharePoint 2010 My Site.  A "Connect" button in a custom Web Part allows users to connect a SharePoint My Site with LinkedIn and automatically pull LinkedIn content into the My Site.  As Daniel showed, once the user has logged in, LinkedIn now trusts the SharePoint My Site and will populate it with data accordingly, grabbing the user photo along with additional properties from LinkedIn profile and populating the My Site with that content.   Daniel also demonstrated the reverse action, taking a status update from SharePoint and publishing it through to LinkedIn via an "Update my LinkedIn Status" button on the My Site. 

Using TeamTalk, a free download from Zevenseas, Daniel then demonstrated a site template that can be deployed in SharePoint that and which will function much like Twitter within the enterprise, up to and including hashtag functionality.

Daniel's final demo of the session involved a suggestion to help drive user adoption by leveraging both Xbox and Foursquare functionality.  As Daniel explained, the notion of "achievements" in Xbox worked, so why not reward SharePoint users for activities like, for example, filling out their My Space profile, for which they'll earn a "Biographer" badge.  Applying rewards in such manner is one of the cool things you can do with the Activity Stream in 2010, as Daniel demonstrated by updating his status and earning a "Town Crier" badge in his Profile.  Daniel explained that rule-sets can be put in place to pre-determine what behavior (and how many times it needs to be repeated) will earn a user their badge.

In conclusion, Daniel said that rather than fear them, social networks can actually add value for an organization, using his own occupation as a SharePoint consultant with Zevenseas by way of example in that his Twitter network provides an "army" of experts who are available to back him up in a client meeting.  As Daniel said, "people are going to be using social networks regardless" and, as a result, SharePoint needs to provide viable alternatives for improved social computing within the organization.


Read our complete coverage of the Australia SharePoint Conference 2011:

Posted Mar 08 2011, 02:10 AM by Anonymous | Edit this post

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