“Why can’t we build this on Sharepoint?”

This is interesting, an round-up why Sharepoint is (not yet) the best way to go when implementing social software for networks in organizations. Kathleen Gilroy of The Future of Communities Blog proposes some good reasons, among them that MOSS wasn’t designed explicitly for inter-enterprise collaboration across organizational boundaries:

Cross network collaboration. Sharepoint is designed for work group collaboration inside the enterprise. But increasingly work is done inside AND outside the firewall. […]

While I have no doubt that Microsoft and the MOSS-Team will work on these weaknesses, Ishai Sagi is arguing (and this is reminiscent of many discussions I’ve had with Lotus Notes aficionados, always holding that you can replicate this “with little development effort “):

you must be kidding me!
It is obvious you have not tried MOSS (sharepoint 2007), and therefore not aware that, with the possible exclusion of point number 5 (I have no idea what “ajax desktop” is, so I wont comment on it), all of the points are either built in in sharepoint, or require small development effort. I would be happy to discuss this with you or anyone who cant find the feature in sharepoint. I am currently implementing a social network in a big (5K users) organisation, and you know what? sharepoint is more than good enough.
A point to note – most organidations dont want users to have blogs and such like, but do want a “social phonebook” – sharepoint allows that out of the box – just remove a specific permission in the administration panel. does your product do that?

Let me say, that focusing on the tool side of social software won’t do the trick – it’s the implementation in a specific context that counts. And putting forth that organizations don’t want their employees to have blogs and other social software is naive in my book, as a lot of firms are already experimenting with internal social software because traditional approaches to knowledge management or collaboration have failed.

So “social phonebooks” are only the beginning, and must be expanded – something that the MOSS team sees for sure, like LeeLeFever holds:

but my bet is that MS will get SharePoint right soon and become even more of an elephant in the room

Well, implementation support and consultant expertise in social software will remain important anyway …

6 Responses to ““Why can’t we build this on Sharepoint?””

  1. […] frogpond « “Why can’t we build this on Sharepoint?” […]

  2. puneetn says:

    I dont think you understood his point. In MOSS 2007 you have the ability to create personal/corporate blogs and wikis. The point is if an organisation chooses to roll it out slowly they can remove the functionaliy by changing permissions.


  3. mk says:

    thank you for your comment, and well, we don’t have to argue, I *am* convinced that the MOSS team will implement essential social software and collaboration features in no time … or as you hold, they are already in place. Besides, as (former) MCSE I am not so fond of Microsoft bashing …

    Yet this wasn’t my point, I just wanted to stress that discussions about technologies won’t advance the field as a whole, when implementation and change management issues present much bigger problems – for MOSS, Lotus Connections and any “Enterprise 2.0” social software application suite we can think of alike.

    Still, I would take rather side with Kathleen Gilroy or Stewart Mader of Atlassian in this discussion (or other proponents of Enterprise 2.0), if only because they seem to focus more on people and implementation issues …

  4. puneetn says:

    As I left a comment on Stewert’s blog as well that MOSS 2007 is not only about helping companies create sterile environments, though there are use cases for such environments. Sharepoint is also about collaboration whether that collaboration is person centric or team centric or company centric there are features in MOSS 2007 to enable all those. The reason why I am here debating these points is because if you say that people centric collaboration is the only way to go and sterile environments have no use then it doesnt take into account the business needs. I dont think these should be either or choices products should play well with both because dynamic businesses have need for both of them.
    Just to elaborate on why I think sharepoint is ready for social software and collaboration is because of the MySite feature. Each individual has their personal space in the organisation where they collaborate and store their information. The kind of features it has are:
    1. My site is the place where you can store information about yourself, your skills, your role in the organisation that you are part of etc and any other thing that you will like to share
    2. My Site has the concept of profile(public view) and private view. Profile is what the public sees and private is the view that you get. You can control what information should be shared(with your workgroup, everybody or it should be private)
    3. You can create your blogs and wikis in this space or any other sites for that matter
    4. You can manage the rss feeds that you are interested in
    5. There is integration with Outlook calendar and email and you can choose to get all that information there.
    6. You can keep a track on your business by tracking KPIs and business scorecards.
    7. You can share out documents or photos to others and you have fine granular control over who can see these
    8. You can keep your bookmarks here and catgorise and choose to share with others
    9. You can keep a list of colleagues/friends who you like to work with. You can get updates about your colleagues when they write a blogpost when their birthday is coming if they have choosen to share that information with you. This also integrates with the search feature when you are trying to locate experts on certain subjects
    10. You can get targeted content that comes to you for e.g your company might have your personal view of HR site targetted to you that gives you information in your my site.
    This is an incompletes list of things that I can think of the top of my head that are “you” first features in sharepoint. Some of the features are new to the 2007 release and some of them have been there in previous releases.
    BTW the things that I discuss here are all Out of Box with no custom code whatsoever.

  5. mk says:

    Hi Puneet,

    well, I am not saying that “sterile environments” as you call them have no use. There are perfect use cases for strict (i.e. workflow) oriented software, with elaborated rules and all that cater for real business needs.

    And you’re right we need both, the “regulated” and the “freeform” … in their respective places that is.

    I think that Social Software in the Enterprise must follow the second road: its main goal should be to enable and support freeform collaboration (overall knowledge work), which is messy, characterized by human interactions – all in all a complex organizational process.

    When collaboration software should allow for ad-hoc, flexible and adaptive set-up, a focus on individually-centered software is logical, if only because the individuals are the basic building blocks for groups and everything else …

    I am wondering whether this messy real-world stuff can be sufficiently supported by out-of the box (sterile? if well-thought-out) environments? Hardly, it will need some serious implementation work, i.e. tuning and tweaking it to the actual organizational settings, to cope with this complexity … which is good news for consultants anyway 😉

    And Puneet, I am glad and thankful for your contributions in regard of MOSS’ 2007 you-features and MySite-concept … I am also looking forward to Microsofts marketing efforts with MOSS 2007 in the collaboration space (or IBM’s initiatives with connections etc.) … because this will help all players as it raises awareness of the need for more effective collaboration.

    Greetings, Martin

  6. […] comes the question that lies behind many discussions I’ve had in the last days (e.g. here) … I have started to think about what is best practice in a complex system – can it exist? In […]

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