With the launch of SharePoint 2013 by Microsoft, social business became the talk of the day, with SP gradually moving towards becoming a company’s social hub. Last year, Microsoft acquired Yammer, and is planning to tie up the same with SharePoint as well as other wares of Microsoft ranging from Dynamics to SkyDrive. My Sites along with Community sites have been introduced by SharePoint 2013, and these aid in internal business collaboration by providing a social interface. These are also designed to make use of the security as well as other enterprise or business management features that SharePoint has. This implies a genuine extension of collaboration among partners and work-groups.
According to R.Wang, leading social business analyst, going social might close the gap between execution and strategy, measurement and execution, as well as strategy and measurement. Organizations understand that SP might be a platform for integration of these technologies thereby bringing in innovation, provided there is a proper plan and strategy for social business.
Let us discuss briefly about three of the major social aspects of SharePoint 2013, namely My Sites, Community Sites as well as the new Newsfeed. All of these distinguish SP from its predecessors and make upgradation a forward-thinking smart decision.
Creating a new Community Site has become very convenient. You simply need to select Community Site from the list within SharePoint available for Collaboration site templates. As per the community’s business role, site owners can go for selection of four permission levels:
- Private: Selected members can view or go for interaction with the community.
- Closed: Content can be read by end users but only those members receiving approved requests would be able to contribute content.
- Open with explicit membership: Content can be read by end users, who would also be able to automatically join the community for contributing content.
- Open: Content can be contributed by anybody.
Like other SharePoint subsites, the Community Site template would be able to disinherit or inherit permissions from its parent site. The fundamental permissions as well as security constructs remain similar. Community Sites just build on this construct utilizing the permission levels. In spite of the presence of this architecture, it is always considered a better practice to make use of unique permissions for management of community membership. It is essential for organizations making use of communities at the site level to become well-versed with this setup. Moreover, community moderators can gain access to features such as offensive content reporting or alerts which enable them to follow discussions more effectively.
My Sites is capable of giving users exactly what their requirement is- rapid access to their things. Presently a user is able to follow people, documents or sites. This ‘follow’ mechanism helps in the automatic creation of lists which are rendered in the user’s My Site, both on the Newsfeed page and also on the My Sites homepage.
Moreover, with the help of My Sites, a user is capable of having one click access to the sites he or she follows. It also recommends other sites the user might find interesting or useful, based on a number of criteria.
Newsfeeds refer to content that is dynamically updated and generated through the activities indulged in by fellow users. These incorporate the currently omnipresent hashtags as well as ‘@ mentions’, and resemble Facebook or Twitter feeds closely. Unlike the case of external social networks, organizations are able to exercise some amount of control over the activities that would be appearing across the Newsfeed from the User Profile Service Application. On the Newsfeed Settings screen, there are provisions for a user to have considerable control over e-mail notifications, hash-tags, and so on.
It is true that in order to make use of these tools, the enterprise architecture does incur some cost such as licensing costs, software and hardware considerations, along with architecture to render support to redundancy as well as performance. But the benefits are indeed far-fetched. Leveraging the social features present in SharePoint development platform with the proper strategy can help organizations effectively manage their social business interaction while at the same time safeguarding intellectual property and content.