Personalization the Key to Collaboration

By Christian Buckley posted 12-17-2012 16:02


It sounds counter-intuitive, doesn't it? To improve collaboration within your team or company, you need to improve end user abilities to personalize their experience. [At this point, all the UX people in the room collectively yawn]  People don't like working in a mess, neither do they want to have to shuffled, sort, and search every time they enter a site -- they want their enterprise app experience to be intuitive, easy to use, and to provide the right data every time they log in. By personalizing your experience, you help organize whatever app or platform you're using to better fit the way in which you work, improving productivity and aligning the platform with business systems and processes.

SharePoint has been moving this direction for quite some time. With SharePoint 2010, the guidance provided to administrators was to build with the end user experience in mind, creating personal views (so that when an end user entered a team site, for example, they would first see the content or tasks relevant to them), automation through workflow and forms, and by simplifying the SharePoint experience (another way of saying -- improve the UI). But to achieve much of the simplicity and productivity enhancements end users want in SP2010, it often means third-party solutions and customizations.

In SharePoint 2013, however, many of these configurations and customizations are now out of the box, with the entire experience focused on giving the end user a personalized experience. The default experience provides a personal view of content, tasks, and projects, allowing administrators to easily aggregate content and provide a much more contextual experience focused on the individual.

The link between personalization and team collaboration is through sharing -- and sharing content and activities through social experiences is at the heart of the new SharePoint release. The more comfortable people are within an environment, the more likely they are to utilize that environment.

Personalization is the key to making collaboration work. Think about Facebook and Twitter -- both provide compelling out of the box functionality, but there seems to be (in my un-scientific opinion) some level of connection between personalization and activity. Regarding Twitter -- those who take the time to personalize their profiles, and the branding of their homepage, tend to spend more time using the core functionality -- and collaborating with others. These users add more content, make more contextual links between content and tags and people, and share more updates with their network. And by a higher level of activity, they encourage (enable) more collaboration and connectivity with their network. Facebook is much the same -- there is a logical connection between users who take the time to personalize their sites and the volume of posts. Yes yes, I understand that correlation does not imply causation, but there is clearly a relationship. [maybe I should get a government grant and study this full time?]

Personal productivity is a necessary ingredient of successful, organic team collaboration.  

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