SPC: Overview of Social Computing in SharePoint 2010

Director of Collaborative Product Management Christian Finn presented an overview of social computing in SharePoint 2010 this afternoon at the SPC.  Encompassing an introduction to social computing, a brief look at Microsoft's strategy in the space, and a demo that served as a walking tour of social features in 2010, Christian delivered a session as engaging as it was informative.  As well, not only did the session feature flying monkeys, but before the end of the session, even pigs took wing.

I promise to return to the matter of flying animals later, but before we get to that, I'll share that the goal for social in 2010, as stated by Christian, was to have it be "as much about people and seem as much about people as it is about documents."  In order to accomplish this, the needs of both information workers and IT were taken into account.  Stating the enterprise value of social computing, Christian pointed out three key points of consideration: the cost of sharing and organizing is lowered; knowledge and networks are surfaced that might otherwise have not been; and employee engagement increases.

Christian showed screenshots of several proven success stories of companies using SharePoint as a social network platform.  Speaking of Electronic Arts, Christian referred to them as being "one of the most advanced companies on SharePoint doing social networking."  EA's approach was to take My Sites, strip them down, and essentially customize them to look and act like Facebook.

Christian began his demo with the extremely robust user Profile page, which is what the 2007 My Site has evolved to in SharePoint 2010.  In addition to standard features such as the user's name, photo, presence information and biographical profile, there are a wealth of new features.  At the top of the page itself, grouped with the user's photo and treated visually as a comic strip style word balloon, there is a status update feature which introduces microblogging to SharePoint out-of-the-box.  Status updates entered here will show up in the feeds of your colleagues and will keep them informed of your current activities.

There are six tabs in the Profile page: Overview, Organization, Content, Tags and Notes, Colleagues, and Memberships.  The Overview includes a user's Note Board, which Christian quite rightly referred to as a "Facebook Wall-style interface."  Among the other features surfaced under this tab is a Personal Tag Cloud, which surfaces all the tags that user has employed and displays them in a tag cloud.  There's also a Tag Profile feature which aggregates all of the people who have used a given tag within the organization.  It's possible to subscribe to a feed of any tag, see who's following a tab, and add a tag to your responsibilities, all of which are options surfaced simply by clicking on a tag.  The My Network feature shows a running feed of colleagues' activity (an "analogue to Facebook friends, if you will") and interests.  The "Ask Me About" feature falls under the interests area and allows users to broadcast areas of expertise about which they're open to receiving questions from colleagues.

The Organization tab surfaces an org browser in Silverlight, which shows an org chart that's far more slick (and interactive) than any org chart you've seen before.  An HTML version of the org browser is also available. 

The Content tab surfaces a user's sites, documents and pictures (shared and personal).  Sites include a personal blog by default.  Speaking of blogs, they've been "made a lot nicer ... they look more like a regular blog on the Internet."  Included in the blog is a Ribbon-based contextual editor which "makes it much more natural to do internal blogging."  In addition to showing blogs in the browser, using a Mobile Emulator, Christian demonstrated the ease of authoring a new blog post on a mobile device.

Christian explained that there are two varieties of wikis in 2010, team sites and enterprise wikis, with the latter being more of a traditional wiki usage.  Both feature Web Edit functionality and built-in workflows (which are also built into blogs in 2010).  Best of all, in 2010 you can insert Web Parts directly into a wiki.

If you're wondering, "what about the flying animals?," Christian opened the session by launching stuffed toy monkeys into the audience via a slingshot mechanism, and explained that he's been employing his flying monkey brigade since 2007.  In response to the challenge made by a competitor that, "SharePoint will be social when pigs fly," Christian was prepared to unveil flying pigs at the end of the session if, in social-style, the crowed rated the session as being worthy.  Taking an informal poll at session's end, the response did indeed merit that the commemorative SharePoint 2010 pigs take flight, and so fly they did.

Catch up on all of our SPC '09 sessions coverage:

Posted Oct 20 2009, 02:45 AM by Anonymous | Edit this post

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