Guest Blog by NewsGator’s Brian Kellner: Supercharged Social in SharePoint – Just Add NewsGator

As social computing concepts start to take hold and generate good results in the enterprise, more and more software categories are including "social" flavors.  This week it may be Social CRM, but next week another software category will certainly get its "social makeover."  While some of this activity might be dismissed as just the latest hype, the reality is that if you have a reasonable number of people using your software product, it will likely benefit from some social computing capabilities.  This is especially true if those people need to collaborate and are distributed across multiple locations.

So you've made your "social resolution."  Your software product is going to get social – you are going to add social capabilities so users become more effective.  What's the first step?

Make sure your social software includes these five capabilities:

  • Good user profiles – your original product probably had some profile information like name and email address, but users will want richer profiles
  • Social Graph – let users create and manage one-to-one connections (e.g, friends or colleagues) and one-to-many connections (e.g., groups or communities)
  • Content and Metadata – give users a way to collaborate around content – this could be content from your own product
  • Event capture and distribution – it's the things that people do, intelligently distributed out to users, that make a good social system
  • Appropriate privacy and security -ensure that security is never violated

So, let's make this more tangible.  Suppose you offer a project management software package.  You decide this product needs to become more social for it to successfully compete in the marketplace.  You could build in all five of the items listed above.  You could extend the user profiles to add more fields.  You could add in friend and group concepts.  You could integrate more content and metadata capture.  And, you could even enable event capture mechanisms.  While this sounds good, it's starting to add up to quite a bit of work – both to build it and maintain it.

Suppose you realized that most of your customers already had or were deploying Microsoft SharePoint?  SharePoint has a lot of these capabilities.  The user profiles in SharePoint are very good and are highly extensible.  SharePoint has the colleague concept already built in.  SharePoint excels at storing content, and the new SharePoint 2010 release has built-in tagging and rating capabilities.  SharePoint 2010 even has an activity stream, and, of course, SharePoint has a very rich security model.

But as you dig a little deeper into your requirements, you realize you'll still have a fair amount of building to do even if you utilize SharePoint.  You still need Communities – places where people can easily come together to ask questions, find experts and collaborate around areas of interest.  You also find that you need more capability around event capture and distribution.  While you could write your own gatherer module for the SharePoint 2010 activity stream, you want the events from your product to be dynamic where people can see and react to these events from anywhere -a mobile device, a desktop client, or even email.  You want your users to be able to comment on events and answer questions directly in the activity stream. 

So now you need to build this functionality yourself and try to integrate into SharePoint.  Stop! There is another answer.  NewsGator Social Sites is designed to be integrated into software products like yours to provide all these capabilities and more.  By bundling Social Sites into your product you can quickly and easily deliver all these new options on SharePoint 2010:

  • Create communities of interest or communities of practice which users can discover through search and recommendations. Users can join these and see all the events (discussions, documents, wikis, blogs, tasks, calendars and more) and they can target these communities with questions.
  • Deliver rich microblogging functionality with comments and likes, notifications, mobile clients, hashtags, search, filtering and more.
  • Target audiences of users that only exist in your product. Perhaps for a particular project, there's no need to create a separate community. But you still want to notify everyone involved with the project when a milestone is hit. It's a simple integration.

These kinds of social software makeovers are already becoming a reality for some companies.  If you're looking to make your product social, and you think SharePoint is the right platform, contact NewsGator.  You'll never have an easier path to "instant social."

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