SharePoint’s Social Computing Scorecard

Last fall, Mike Watson and I started talking about writing an e-book on the social computing capabilities within SharePoint 2010. While that project continues, and we’re talking imagewith a publisher, we wanted to collaborate for a couple SharePoint Saturday events, and created a presentation that walks through a history of social computing followed by an in-depth review of the major social platforms, comparing them to similar features within SharePoint.

The intent was not to cover every single consumer-based social tool out there, nor was it to outline every single feature – but to focus on the primary features that end users want in an enterprise platform. Our presentation helps business users and IT Pros to understand what it means when someone asks “Can we build a Facebook-like tool for our intranet” or “can you make it drag and drop like Ning?”

While you lose a lot of the detail of the presentation without the narration (plus I pulled out several of the slides, saving the “special sauce” for the e-book), hopefully it gives you an idea of what is out there in consumer-based social computing, and how it compares. Also not-so-obvious was the criteria by which we compared the tools:

  • Ease of Entry – Internal
    How easy is it to get others within the firewall plugged in and using the solution?
  • Ease of Entry – External
    How easy is it to include external partners and customers?
  • Discovery (expertise, interests)
    Is the tool aware when new content is added, or do you have to go through multiple steps to make it aware of something new?
  • Contextual Search
    Beyond simple keyword search, is the tool intuitive enough to put my query into content of what I am doing?
  • Enterprise Content Management (workflow, business process management)
    Pretty straight forward category.
  • Building Communities – External Focus
    How good is the tool at building out communities external to the organization?
  • Team Collaboration – Internal Focus
    How good is the tool at building out community within the organization?
  • Real-Time Connections
    Does the tool have presence awareness, and can it do anything with that information?
  • Cost
    Can I afford it?

I summarize the material with a Gartner magic quadrant graph, and make the point that while SharePoint does not lead every category or feature outlined here, the strength of SharePoint is that it does much, much more than just social computing. With its out-of-the-box collaboration, ECM, security, and search features (among others), SharePoint is the leading platform for enterprise collaboration and productivity solutions (and its also a great business intelligence platform).

Christian Buckley

Christian is a Microsoft Regional Director and M365 Apps & Services MVP, and an award-winning product marketer and technology evangelist, based in Silicon Slopes (Lehi), Utah. He is the Director of North American Partner Management for leading ISV Rencore (, leads content strategy for TekkiGurus, and is an advisor for both revealit.TV and WellnessWits. He hosts the monthly #CollabTalk TweetJam, the weekly #CollabTalk Podcast, and the Microsoft 365 Ask-Me-Anything (#M365AMA) series.

3 Responses

  1. Great point, JB. We don’t even touch on what can be done through partner solutions. But I suppose the point is that you can build to spec, whereas most consumer-based solutions are not as extensible. Microsoft has always had one of the strongest partner ecosystems to help customers reach their potential.
    And competitors are connection, as well. EMC figured out they needed to stop fighting the wave, and embraced Documentum integration to SharePoint. Many PLM vendors are seeing the light (and the reality) and are following the lead of PTC to utilize SharePoint as an ad hoc platform for their otherwise closed platforms. And even Jive has found out that business is better when linking to SharePoint.

  2. JB says:

    Good stuff! Don’t forget the SharePoint ecosystem — #newsgator rockin it with Social SharePoint for the Global 2000

  3. Great preso – wish I could have seen it. Agree 100% with conclusion that SharePoint only enterprise platform to manage social computing despite #fail of some features. Composite SharePoint solutions incorporating Confluence/Jive successful for me – take the best features of all as opposed to square peg/round hole approach. Surprisingly though I’ve encountered significant resistance to composite applications – preference is for all or nothing solution. Great insights – thank you!