Microsoft SharePoint remains the premier choice for content management and collaboration, but SharePoint’s social networking features have made some exciting improvements. Many companies and SharePoint Consultants are now investigating the use of SharePoint as an enterprise social network.
The discussion of SharePoint 2013’s enterprise social network has become much more credible than it has been in the past with the addition of new social features and updates. Forgetting about Microsoft’s acquisition of Yammer for the purposes of this conversation, we’ll examine the strides Microsoft has made with SharePoint 2013’s out of the box features.
Behind the scenes, social activity is cached using SharePoint’s new Distributed Cache service. This innovative service application is capable of being run in either collocated mode along with other service applications, or in dedicated mode on a server dedicated to the Distributed Cache service. These two options make this solution flexible and scalable to fit the differing needs of SharePoint’s diverse user base.
One of the top added features in SharePoint 2013 is the microblogging and social activity is now stored in a user’s MySite rather than in the MySites site collection. This allows for more flexibility and allows social activity to persist indefinitely, whereas social activity was previously limited to 14 days of history in SharePoint 2010. The SharePoint API has been also been updated to accommodate the new functionality and allow developers to extend the out of the box functionality using custom code.
When designing SharePoint 2013’s user experience, it appears that Microsoft examined other modern social networking interfaces to determine what information users want and more importantly, how users want information presented. In SharePoint 2013, Microsoft has converted MySites into a centralized repository to view new social activity relevant to the user. SharePoint 2013 MySites also offers the user the ability to store and share documents. With microblogging, the ability to follow content and tagging in conversations, a user’s news feed is teeming relevant information in SharePoint 2013.
AREA FOR IMPROVEMENT
One oversight to SharePoint 2013’s social implementation is that there are no options for permission-based filtering of social activity. In terms of public or outward-facing solutions, this is of huge importance as privacy is the chief concern among modern social networks today. However, as a purely internal solution, this possibly overlooked concern may not hold any significance.
SharePoint 2013 used primarily as an enterprise social networking solution is probably not going to astound anyone or raise productivity to record levels. That’s not to say companies can’t leverage SharePoint to empower their business. Coming from SharePoint 2010 however, 2013 is definitely a step in the right direction.
The question remains is whether or not SharePoint will continue moving in that direction? With the acquisition of Yammer, even Microsoft seems to realize that the future of enterprise social networking may not lie in out of the box SharePoint.
Microsoft has been pushing the integration of SharePoint and Yammer to the point where it recommends when integrating Yammer, disabling SharePoint’s social features entirely so that they don’t become confused with Yammer. Yammer is growing right now and it will be interesting to see what the future holds in terms of the relationships between both products.
What are your thoughts on using SharePoint 2013 as an enterprise social networking solution? Let us know in the comment section below.