SharePoint 2013 for the Social Intranet

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SharePoint is present in 80% of the Fortune 100; and plays a prominent intranet role in about 70% of knowledge worker intranets (either powering the main intranet portal, or delivering associated collaboration sites and/or document repositories). This in spite of its history.

SharePoint 2007 was a poor, often frustrating solution; SharePoint 2010 was a step on the right track towards a better and scalable platform; but the latest, SharePoint 2013 represents a considerable improvement compared to its earlier predecessors.Social intranet at Prescient Digital Media using SharePoint 2013

Social intranet at Prescient Digital Media using SharePoint 2013

It’s not all good news, and it’s not a solution that fits every organization, but it does make sense as an enterprise intranet or enterprise content management platform in a small to medium size organization (for larger organizations it may be worthwhile but it can be expensive, depending on licensing discounts and the depth of an organization’s relationship with Microsoft (think existing licensing of Windows, MS-Office, etc.). with a .NET development and Microsoft Office environment, and few legacy technologies or applications that require integration or consideration.

Prescient Digital Media upgraded to SP2013 at the outset of the new release, and haven’t looked back. Though some problems persist, the bugs and challenges are not as persistent as 2010. There are some obvious improvements (pros) and some persistent issues (cons):

PROS:

  • Cloud – feature parity cloud version (of course this was supposed to be the case, in large part, for 2010).
  • Social – enhanced social networking (nearly completely lacking in prior versions).
  • Web CMS – enhanced publishing and management interface (employing the ‘ribbon’ from Office).

 

CONS:

  • Branding – although it’s apparently easier to implement new custom designs on SP13, MS has openly cautioned against customizing the home page. See SharePoint Designer below.
  • Search – search is still not best-of-breed, requires considerable configuration work, and underwhelms most users (though offline, consistent content management policies are mandatory).
  • Social networking – My Sites and Newsfeeds are still isolated and separated from the main intranet.

 

Among the social enhancements are newsfeeds, site feeds, following, tagging, and reputation scores. They are very good features and provide a solid level of social computing in SharePoint. However, they lack personalization and aggregation functionalities which are very important for most of the world-class intranets.

There are far more pros than cons, but there should be at the price MS charges. SharePoint is perfect for a small to medium-size enterprise intranet in a .NET environment that requires a web development platform focused on enterprise content management. It can also work as a large enterprise platform, but it is not cheap, typically requires a lot of work and customization, and doesn’t always work as promised.

Read a complete in-depth analysis with recommendations and case studies using SharePoint 2013 as a social intranet in the SharePoint for Intranets White Paper (from SharePoint experts Social Business Interactive).

 

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1 Comment

  1. Adam WAsserman

    On other key aspect that is now working very well on the Prescient Intranet is using Sky Drive Pro to have a single shared repository of information. Each document is saved locally (as well as on the server) with versions and can be worked on by multiple authors simultaneously. This is really making things much more efficient, and reduced e-mail.

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