June 17, 2010, 1:03 PM — If Microsoft is going to tell large global enterprises how to roll out a social networking platform, the folks in Redmond sure as heck better do it themselves.
So in the company's tradition of "eating your own dog food" (using your own products in-house), Microsoft has been using SharePoint 2010: MySites for individual profile pages and teamsites for product groups spread out around the world to share documents and collaborate.
Microsoft has also built various internal Web sites on SharePoint, such as a You Tube-like site for posting podcasts and videos (called "Academy Mobile" inside the company).
CEO Steve Ballmer has been known to shoot a video segment from his desk about how the company is doing and post it to Academy Mobile. The same goes for CIO Tony Scott's "fireside chat" videos enlightening salespeople on the needs of today's CIOs.
During the past two years, the number of Microsoft employees uploading content to the Academy Mobile site has more than quadrupled and the percentage of employees viewing podcasts on the site has gone from 10% to 50%.
Microsoft's YouTube-like internal podcasting site, called Academy Mobile.
Microsoft's experience building a social networking critical mass within the company has put it in a sharing mood. And at the Enterprise 2.0 conference this week in Boston, Christian Finn, Microsoft's Director for Collaboration and Enterprise Social Computing, shared advice for IT managers on how to roll out SharePoint sites make employees more productive, how to prove cost-savings to executives and how to get execs blogging (and maybe even podcasting like Steve B.).
Here are Finn's seven truths Microsoft has discovered about becoming a socially connected enterprise:
It's the User's Solution, Not Yours
Social networking is a democratic process, and you need to get feedback from users before deploying. Within Microsoft, the first feedback from employees was that they did not want the social networking platform to be VPN-based. They needed to have access to it without having to go through the corporate network. So Microsoft IT integrated its SharePoint sites with Windows Directory Services and placed some of them outside the firewall.
Employees also wanted to be able to flag for inappropriate content, so that feature was added.
Any social network should be rolled out in steps, says Finn, and companies should frequently get user feedback and adjust accordingly. Do not implement a whole platform upfront before you know what users want and need.
Solve a Problem, Don't Deploy a Technology
Instead of implementing a YouTube-like site for your company just because everyone else is doing it, pinpoint what business problem these tools could solve, such as helping a global workforce share more information faster through podcasting.