NewsGator's Social Sites create a "true Microblogging platform" similar to Twitter and Facebook, adds Liu.
Also, Social Sites distributes a user's posts more widely and it doesn't matter where a user does the posting. In SharePoint 2010 only content that is posted on your profile page gets distributed, but if you post something on a community page, that post would not get distributed.
Social Sites in SharePoint 2010 also offer a Web page that aggregates everyone's RSS feeds where people can tag, rate and comment on sites.
Baking Social Networking into the Workflow
All of this adds up to give Unisys employees what Liu calls "a real Facebook-like experience." Liu is counting on Social Sites features to improve productivity by letting employees easily share what projects they are working on and stop relying on sluggish e-mail correspondence.
Unisys layered the NewsGator Social Sites 1.0 on top of the SharePoint 2010 social components in August and is in the process of upgrading to the just-released Social Sites 1.1. Integrating Social Sites into SharePoint's MySites costs in the range of $10-$100 per user depending on the size of the implementation and includes a 22 percent annual maintenance fee.
Though Unisys employees are just starting to use Social Sites within SharePoint 2010, Knab and Liu envision that the social tools will soon be part of the daily workflow of all employees.
"We want everyone to arrive for work and go to their personalized news feeds. We want them to have everything in front of them," says Knab, adding that getting social tools on mobile phones and available to partners through an extranet are also on the roadmap.
Knab predicts all of this will come together quickly because employees are accustomed to social media.
"Of course microblogging and social networking are not new to employees," he says. "What's new is they'll be doing it for work."
Shane O'Neill covers Microsoft, Windows, Operating Systems, Productivity Apps and Online Services for CIO.com. Follow Shane on Twitter @smoneill. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline. Email Shane at email@example.com.