What Drives Social Media in SharePoint?
Ask a crowd of people whether they believe social computing is important within the enterprise, and you usually see — at best — an even split of yes and no answers. More often than not, the majority of people answer no. As I present on the topic at various conferences and SharePoint Saturday events, most people attend my session not because they believe social computing is critical to their business, but because they want to understand why they should care.
With so many people ambivalent to social computing, why is it that one of the top technology trends is the expansion of social computing features across enterprise applications? One problem with perception is that people tend to focus on the consumer social media applications without considering the underlying application of the technologies that power them, and how those features and capabilities might improve the enterprise.
So why should you care about social media in SharePoint? Well, let’s take a look at some of the problems you may be experiencing within your environment:
- You’ve spent months migrating content into your shiny, new SharePoint environment. You’ve moved your information silos from your old, proprietary portal or file shares to SharePoint. NOW WHAT???
- You were sold on the idea of search, but you can’t find anything.
- You can’t tell who owns what.
- You can’t tell what’s new, what’s old, or what has changed.
- You realize that all of your data is now disconnected.
How do you solve these problems? The answer is managed metadata, thoughtful taxonomy, and a solid governance model. The answer is to roll out social computing tools within SharePoint to improve search and provide additional methods for surfacing data within your environment. Think of it as a software stack:
Metadata powers both structured (taxonomy) and unstructured (ad hoc) collaboration, which is then filtered by the various social media tools, which is an extension of search, which makes your team site, portal, and content relevant to end users. Across all of these pieces is your governance model, ensuring all of the moving parts are working together.
Metadata is the key to making social media work inside the enterprise. It makes social media work within SharePoint, it makes your content visible to end users, and it powers search. Metadata makes your environment useable, linkable, relevant. Metadata is the building block of social media within SharePoint.
When thinking through your own social media strategy, its important that you recognize this connection between social computing, metadata, and search. It will help you to sell your team and management chain on the powerful impact of social media in the enterprise, and, more importantly, help you realize the full potential of your SharePoint investments.