At their core, all enterprise collaboration systems, web content management systems, productivity solutions and social networks serve the same fundamental purpose : the sharing of information between teams, and of providing new ways for them to connect. In the evolution of the digital workplace, social computing is quickly becoming the de facto method for how we collaborate.
As SharePoint continues to evolve as a platform, with many of the most innovative features being powered by the Office Graph and other cloud capabilities, many companies are reviewing their collaboration strategies and trying to understand how Microsoft’s vision for the cloud fits with their own enterprise requirements — and the increasingly social habits of their end users. End users are always chomping at the bit to employ the use of the latest, greatest tools — but administrators and decision-makers are concerned about moving away from a centralized platform and back toward a “best of breed” approach that fragments control and governance, and quite possibly impacting team and individual productivity.
Many CIOs are concerned (as they should be) with the impacts these tools will have on security, support and maintenance costs. These are valid concerns. There is a balance between giving users the features and experiences they want and delivering a system that meets compliance, regulatory, and security constraints. Productivity is the goal, of course, but organizations should be careful to recklessly allow every consumer-based tool into their system.
While SharePoint is not known for the strength of its social capabilities, it can be argued that the most popular consumer-based social tools fail to align with business requirements. Extending SharePoint is the fastest path to delivering what users want, in a scalable and manageable way.
Social for the enterprise is not the same as enterprise social. While there are many organizations striving to build “Facebook for the enterprise” (including Facebook), what most of them lack are the fundamentals collaboration components — and sheer extensibility — of SharePoint. As you consider all of your business requirements, including but not limited to the social activities your users desire, look at them without the lens of any single tool or platform. Enterprises need new ways to:
- generate and take action on innovative ideas;
- connect those ideas across the organization and beyond geographical divides;
- create and act on simple and complex business workflows;
- align ad hoc collaboration activities with business-critical line of business (LOB) applications and systems;
- deliver some form of semantic search capability that can understand what the users are looking for, and then to promulgate ideas and artifacts based on context; and to
- collaborate in more powerful and meaningful ways across the enterprise.
SharePoint continues to be the best platform on the market to deliver on all of these enterprise needs. Extending the social capabilities of SharePoint, whether online or on-premises, will only enhance these capabilities, and help improve productivity.
Managing social collaboration inside SharePoint — rather than supporting an external tool or cloud-based service — allows you to apply the same rules and best practices as the rest of the platform, requiring governance around permissions, usage and activity, storage, and ongoing auditing.
The key to tying social computing to productivity is to first understand the business gap that they fill, and then to help your end users understand the context (specific use cases, business processes) in which to use them. Provide guidance, best practices, and working examples on how to align these tools with their roles and responsibilities. Develop your plan, train your team, and begin leveraging the many capabilities of SharePoint to meet your future social computing and collaboration needs.
Of course, the most difficult part of building any social strategy is translating end user requirements into achievable and measurable actions that help you meet your business objectives. Out of the box, SharePoint may not deliver what you need. That’s where Beezy can help.
End users want technology to fit the way they work (which is why so many gravitate toward the latest consumer-driven social tools), instead of requiring them to work a different way to fit the technology (what many enterprise applications usually require). The trick is to deliver what they want in a way that makes sense to the business, and can be tracked and measured by your key performance indicators. Beezy extends and enhances SharePoint, offering a rich collection of features beyond what Microsoft provides — and “connects the dots” between all of your Office productivity tools. If you want to learn more about how Beezy can deliver the latest social features on top of your existing (or future) SharePoint environment, and improve your employee productivity, schedule your demo today.