BPCUK: Symon Garfield Shares ‘The Secrets of Successful Enterprise Social Computing with SharePoint 2010’

Symon Garfield presenting at BPCUKSymon Garfield presented his social SharePoint session this morning at the European SharePoint Best Practices Conference to a capacity crowd, many of whom were standing at the rear or sides of the room out of necessity.  Explaining that the framework of his presentation would be structured around strategy, governance, architecture, and transition, Symon began with a brief introduction to social computing in general, and why we're talking about enterprise social computing.  The answer to that last question?  "In a word, Facebook.  Symon shared that, of the two billion people in the world with Internet access, around a quarter of them have Facebook accounts.  While this trend is certainly influencing enterprise adoption of Web 2.0 technologies and philosophies, Symon's belief is that enterprise social computing is "just starting, really, in terms of mainstream adoption." 

Strategy.  Symon said that "With social computing sometimes, you just need to start with a vision," as opposed to a formal strategic objective.  The first thing your organization will need to decide is "What's your approach to social computing?" 

Discussing proven KM approaches, Symon cited: expertise location ("the organization decides who's the expert … [it's] built into the fabric of the organization"); communities of practice ("bringing people together that have a common interest"); lessons learned ("formal process" of discovery following each project); and best practices ("How do you know it's a best practice?"  By having "people responsible [who] validate them, [then] make sure they're shared and applied").

A facilitated KM approach would, of necessity, require explicit strategic aims and objectives, quantifiable business benefits, and the like.  Another approach is the "ad hoc use of Web 2.0." and Symon showed screenshots of a series of SharePoint 2007 sites built for Universal music, with dedicated sites for each artist.  As a result of the artist-centric focus, and the user contributions that focus engendered, each artist site became a community of practice.  Discussing the user driven philosophy in enterprise 2.0, Symon said that "Your biggest problem isn't going to be the technology, it's going to be getting your managers to make this mind shift to lead the organization."

Strategy best practices that Symon shared included:

  • Understand your approach (KM, ad hoc, or enterprise 2.0)
  • At least have a business-oriented vision even if you don't have an aim and ROI
  • Consider qualitative and quantitative measures, or proxy measures
  • It's your business management and HR management that's your problem, not your IT
  • Under-promise and over-deliver
  • Encourage and facilitate, don't control and mandate
  • Move towards becoming 'fully networked'

Governance.  Explaining that this section would be "really short because it isn't social computing-specific," Symon got underway with a shot across Microsoft's bow: "Everything Microsoft says about governance is wrong … because it's not governance."  Symon went on to make the case that "governance is about accountability [and has] nothing to do with technology"

In addition to underscoring the above point, governance best practices Symon shared included:

  • The IT department cannot make a success of enterprise social computing
  • Collaborative steering committee is the absolute minimum starting point.  Involve HR and Internal Communications or Marketing
  • You need executive support, preferably from outside the IT function

Architecture.  Announcing that this would be a "relatively short section as well," the architecture best practices shared included:

  • Deploy SharePoint as a set of services
  • Each service has a brand ("Don't call a My Site a My Site … have a contest to name it")
  • Add breadth and depth to the services
  • Search or My Site Activity feeds as the homepage

Transition.  Speaking of transition, Symon said that the "term covers two things, change management and user adoption," and that "[change management] is culture, [user adoption] is behavior." 

Following a discussion of barriers to collaboration and which ones social computing can help with, Symon shared his transition best practices:

  • Have an explicit transition plan that addresses organizational change and user adoption
  • Be clear about the problem and solution – corporate and personal return on investment ("People need to understand what's in it for them")
  • Involve HR and Internal Communications or Marketing
  • Remember that change takes time
  • You need both ground-level support and top-level leadership
  • Collect and act on feedback.


Read our complete coverage of the European SharePoint Best Practices Conference:

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