Does your company let you get on Facebook?
Many companies are still hesitant to implement social networking tools internally due to fear of decreased productivity or communication. However, social tools actually help companies achieve the opposite and, in turn, bring some pretty significant benefits. Social networking on an enterprise scale can benefit team collaboration efforts by increasing communication with customers and partners as well as decreasing response time to questions.
Enterprise social technologies allow users to provide, gather and organize information more efficiently. Instead of simply discussing ideas and projects during meetings and over email, social tools allow teams to easily share and comments on ideas while they are still top of mind.
Some may believe that in-person meetings stem the best ideas, but this is often not true due to the frequent occurrence of group think. When group think takes over a meeting, new and diverse ideas emerge. The openness of social tools allows users to throw out different ideas, which may not have been discussed otherwise, and may take a project in a new and exciting direction.
Another benefit of social collaboration tools that is often overlooked is its ability to help new hires integrate into the company culture and meet people outside of their department. Social networking on an internal level has the opportunity to increase both employee and department relationships.
When developing SharePoint 2013, Microsoft understood the numerous benefits that social tools can bring to companies and the importance of integrating social computing features into all aspects of the user experience.
The following are some of the features of SharePoint 2013 that can bring social collaboration to enterprise companies:
Similar to the popular social media sites that users frequent for personal use, SharePoint 2013 features personal newsfeeds where users can follow nearly anything in SharePoint, including sites, documents and people. The SharePoint 2013 newsfeed also makes it easy to:
- See when someone mentions you on a discussion board
- Aggregate task lists for different projects
- Receive notifications of updates to community sites
- Follow updates made to documents
- Share images and links
And just like the newsfeeds of popular social networking sites (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn), the newsfeed feature in SharePoint 2013 appears in reverse chronological order, with the most recent updates appearing first so you are always up-to-date. Users can also easily locate people, documents or discussions relevant to what they’re working on by using the hashtag (#) feature.
Social Collaboration for Sites
Compared to SharePoint 2010, the Community Sites for SharePoint 2013 provide greater social collaboration functionality. Community sites provide a forum that encourages discussions across organizations and groups. Within the forum interface, users can categorize posts, organize questions for targeted viewing and flag answers that they find helpful.
To encourage collaboration, Microsoft has integrated a reputation builder feature into Community Sites. The reputation building feature is a point system in which you receive points when other users like your reply to a question, when you start a discussion, if you reply to a post or when another user marks your answer as a best reply. The point system is customizable so that community owners or moderators can change the amount of points given to a certain action to encourage behavior.
Instead of using a document library (like you are used to), you now have a SkyDrive Pro. SkyDrive Pro is a central hub for documents that you will be collaborating on with other users. Using SkyDrive Pro, you can store, sync and share your work. Permissions on SkyDrive are easy to understand so any user can share their content with a targeted audience.
There have been many improvements to the search functionality in SharePoint 2013, compared to SharePoint 2010, including the integration of a social component. Search results now display a more dynamic and engaging interface that resemble search results in social networks. In addition to searching documents and sites, users can now search for authors of documents related to their search query. This feature is important because users can find people based not only on what is listed on their profile but also what they have worked on in the past.
Overall, the enterprise social computing and collaboration features of SharePoint 2013 make finding people and content simple and empowers users to share information and ideas.