SPC11: ‘More Than My: How Microsoft is Driving Social Adoption and Intranet Transformation’ with Internal Enhancements to OOTB SharePoint Social Features

This morning at the SPC, Microsoft Senior Solutions Manager Chris Slemp and Senior Program Manager Sean Squires presented a session demonstrating their efforts to drive social adoption at Microsoft by implementing enhancements to the out-of-the-box social features of SharePoint 2010 for the company's intranet.

Going "deeper" into some of what Dave Pae and Paul Javid had shown in their (immediately preceding) Improving Productivity with Social session, Sean explained that he and Chris would walk through the strategy they put together to comprehensively revamp the Microsoft intranet over the last year.  Sean noted that theirs is a multi-year plan, and that they would discuss some of the aspirational goals as well.  In essence, the goal is to rebrand My Sites as, simply, "My" (with a new look and feel) to "aggregate social activity as [you] engage across the enterprise." 

Chris explained that Microsoft "employees demand a more modern intranet," in line with the consumerization of IT, "but how does that work in an enterprise environment?"   Accordingly, their project vision is to "enable Microsoft employees to be more connected and productive by building a modern intranet while creating a showcase of Microsoft's technology."

Chris then showed an overview of screenshots for a series of internal SharePoint properties, while Sean discussed "modern" experiences, and "consumerized analogues" such as YouTube and Twitter.  They both knew that they needed to provide enterprise equivalents of these compelling consumer products for the Microsoft intranet… and sure enough, "By providing these types of experiences … we really start[ed] to see rapid adoption."  Some of the "My" profile features include: a calendar snapshot, and more information surfaced directly that had previously resided behind tabs.  A picker was demonstrated that allows users to filter feed content a la Twitter streams. There is also a Hot Topics feature, surfacing content based on the frequency of tags appearing in posts.  Also, Recommendations are surfaced, based on the interests of the user.  A "Send Kudos" feature in the Profile posts to the activity feed and sends email to that person's manager when "job well done" posts are shared. 

A "Social Ribbon" (Like, Share, Comment, Print) was also demonstrated, as having been embedded in MSW (news site), and which is integrated with Activity Feeds and user profiles. 

In response to a question regarding these nifty features being incorporated into SharePoint out-of-the-box, Chris responded saying that they consist of "a mix of out-of-the-box features that have been re-skinned, as well as some customizations," and allowed that "The SharePoint team is certainly looking at these features … they're paying close attention, that's all I can say right now."

Chris then noted of their enhancements, "These things helped to increase discoverability."  Demonstrating with his own "My" site, Chris showed that the Newsfeed includes internal and external RSS feeds inline.  At this point, Sean chimed in to say that, "We're also tying this into the social tagging service [making for] a fantastic discovery point."  Chris then demonstrated the Videos stream, which is served up automatically based on your interests.  A microblogging newsfeed has been added to Infopedia, and "Using the concept of joining a community to say that I'm interested in this topic," tagging is applied, and served up via newsfeeds.  Infopedia uses the same People Search service as on "My" to build a filterable people search. 

Sean then used the internal ITWeb (help desk) to demonstrate the addition of the "My" microblogging solution (Office Talk is the name of the internal microblogging service) to a number of support services, noting that many support tickets can be closed much more quickly with the addition of the microblogging functionality.  Sean also showed that the internal Academy site now taps in directly to the "My" profile page. 

In conclusion, Chris explained that social and microblogging adoption challenges were overcome by: analytics that show the most commonly used hashtags on the system, the addition of a "Follow Suggestions" feature (that sends an email and drives traffic back to the site), a "Best of Office Talk" newsletter (which also drives traffic back to site), but said that it was integration with email and with My Sites (i.e., the tools all employees interacted with daily) that proved to be the biggest drivers of adoption.


Read our complete coverage of Microsoft SharePoint Conference 2011.

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