8 Ways to Extend SharePoint’s Social Computing

By Joe Cromer, Risetime |  Software, enterprise 2.0, SharePoint integration

Enterprise 2.0 is becoming a big part of every organizations strategy to work better, smarter, and faster. You probably are aware that SharePoint is a great fit for most organizations document management and collaboration needs. What about social computing?

SharePoint gives you a good starting point. It introduces you to the important concepts and helps you understand how social computing can make your company run better.

But what are your options for a large scale social computing strategy and what do you do when SharePoint falls short? Here are 8 ways companies can extend SharePoint's out-of-the-box capabilities to better fit their social computing vision.

I. My Sites in SharePoint
My Sites in SharePoint encourage interaction among employees and offers a very basic, but corporate equivalent to a Facebook profile. Through a My Site home page employees can communicate their project information, share documents, and discuss mutual interests. They can utilize web parts to display content such as RSS feeds and blog posts. The My Sites Profile lets employees learn about each other's interests and expertise in a glorified digital business card format. Information about colleagues' skill sets can be accessed through SharePoint's people search. Overall it is the perfect way to establish SharePoint as the primary platform to interact with coworkers and team members.

Make My Sites More Engaging
SharePoint's My Site can also be pretty underwhelming and stale for the avid Facebook user. To make it a viable social computing tool, you'll need to extend past their out-of-the-box limitations. Consider installing third party products like nGage by OI Software. nGage installs over your existing SharePoint portal giving corporate My Sites a real WOW factor such as a visual "reputation", scoring user contribution using criteria such as their openness, how they field questions for other users, and how often they contribute documents to SharePoint. It even gives their coworkers a chance to grade their contributions.

II. SharePoint Team Sites
Increasing collaboration among project teams is critical in any organization. SharePoint Team Sites provide a centralized collaboration tool to manage teams and projects. Team Sites include basic document management tools such as document libraries, lists, group calendars, tasks, contacts, and announcements.

Know What Team Members are Doing with Kiiro
Frustrated because you know what Seinfeld rerun your Aunt is watching at the moment based on her Facebook page but have no clue what task your fellow team member is on?

Check out how Kiiro collaboration software extends the basic SharePoint team site to allow Twitter-like status notes by team members giving instant updates as well as an impressive "Who's on What" type of dashboard.

III. SharePoint Blogs
On the web, blogs can be a top source for up to date expertise from subject matter experts. User generated content often provides in-depth knowledge garnered from individual interests and subject matter experts. Harnessing this knowledge within the organization can provide a wealth from untapped resources. Within SharePoint, every My Site includes a blog. Individual blogs, as well as blogs associated with Team Sites can be archived and indexed for searching, becoming a resource for collective organizational knowledge.

Add Blog 2.0 Functionality for Free
As internal blogs become more successful you'll quickly outgrow SharePoint's standard functionality. With a little technical help to get it implemented, consider the Community Kit 2.0 available for free on CodePlex. Extend SharePoint's basic blog with Tag Clouds, friendly URLs, multiple categories for postings, and even comment spam detection if you want to implement this on your public facing website.

IV. SharePoint People Search
Easily locate people and experts within your own organization by searching their profiles for specific keywords. How do you find out who's in charge of what project or has a specialization required to solve a problem? Instead of asking around or meandering from department to department, search within SharePoint for instant results.

Find Your Real Subject Matter Experts
NewsGator allows you to extend your search past the keywords and quickly find experts your coworkers have scored as the most knowledgeable, helpful, or creative. Extend SharePoint's people search to display these traits in the results, enhancing SharePoint with a very efficient way to track down the top expert to help solve your challenge.

V. SharePoint Wikis
Tired of emailing back and forth to edit a document or discuss important information? Wikis created within SharePoint are an excellent alternative to share knowledge, allowing others to edit and contribute through a simple interface. Efficient and easy, SharePoint wikis incorporate all of the features of SharePoint to secure and control the content: permissions, version history, document check-out and in, and approval workflows.

Enhance with the Community Kit
Again, the best bet to add the flexibility and functionality you'll need (and definitely the best price) comes from Community Kit for SharePoint. Add custom page templates, tools for importing content from other wikis, and a web part that shows pages ranked by hits/popularity.

VI. SharePoint Community Sites
SharePoint gives you the ability to create community sites based on templates and invite or give access to users. SharePoint security groups help the site manager control access to the content in the community. Blogs, discussion groups, and Wikis can easily be added and monitored using basic SharePoint functionality.

Create Fuller Featured Community Sites
NewsGator offers a powerful tool and framework to quickly create and facilitate community sites around new ideas and innovation inside a company's SharePoint Portal. Encourage quick and lightweight conversation with features like MicroBlogs. Automatically populate community sites with content related to their community site topics. NewsGator is also already boasting how they extend SharePoint 2010 features and seem well ahead of the pack on the R&D side with their product development team.

VII. SharePoint Announcements of New Employees
If a SharePoint Portal is in place, adding new employees and posting an announcement to your landing page is quick and easy and can take the place of a company-wide email. Asking everyone to fully complete their My Site profile on their first day also allows information to be instantly available to co-workers and more fully integrate them into the organization right away.

Show Where New Employees Fit In
Extend the ease of adding key data to new employee announcements using products like AASoftech's OrgChart Webpart . Integrating directly with SharePoint, this web part adds a great resource for an HR department to add further detail to a new employee announcement. Instantly update your company's org chart and announce how they fit in by just adding the new employees to Active Directory and filling in the proper information.

VIII. SharePoint Social Computing Outside Your Network
Using SharePoint Groups gives you an easy way to add or remove access to individual employees or entire roles and allows access such as who can read something and who can contribute. As security models go, SharePoint is a pretty effective security structure for controlling who gets to see or use your Social Media features inside your network, or if your needs aren't too great, even extending it to your customers, partners or vendors through forms based authentication. But what if you want to involve your customers, partners or vendors in your social computing strategy?

Make Your Customers, Partners, and Vendors More Aware
Trying to design and maintain an efficient security strategy can be overwhelming when planning for a large quantity of external users and groups. If you're looking to extend your social computing strategy to include customers, partners and vendors, Awareness Social Media Marketing Software offers you tools for handling security as well as extending your strategy to include users outside your organization.

http://www.risetime.com/blog/archive/2009/11/06/8-ways-to-extend-sharepoint’s-social-computing.aspx

For More SharePoint Blogs Check out the Risetime Technology Blog: http://www.risetime.com/blog/default.aspx

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