Making Social More Visible

By Christian Buckley posted 03-13-2013 23:43



One of the most powerful aspects of any knowledge management or collaboration platform is its ability to surface data that is otherwise hidden, unshared, lost. Sometimes people hoard data. Most of the time it's not intentional -- its institutional. Individuals complete projects, move on to the next one. Teams collect data and metrics, report on it as part of the quarterly, mid-year, or annual review….and then box it up, archive it. Knowledge can be fleeting, unless you take steps to liberate your content. Which is what your KM or collaboration tools attempt to do.


The problem, though, is when you begin to introduce social platforms into the mix. Most of these tools break your model. They are fantastic for connecting people, surfacing knowledge and expertise, generating ideas and creativity and content. The enterprise social space is exploding -- but the implications of unbridled collaboration have not yet been felt. Not that companies aren't working on the problem -- just hat the space is not yet mature, and with all the excitement and fanfare (and VC funding), people are not yet asking the hard questions, like: Where is my data going? How does content move from a secure area into a social area and back again, while still maintaining regulatory, security, and compliance standards?


No better example of the social excitement not-yet-tempered-by-stated-strategy is Microsoft' Yammer. Recently acquired, Yammer brings a much-needed social adrenalin injection to Microsoft's SharePoint platform. The Yammer model provides a powerful toolset, but the model (and underlying Yammer corporate culture) has been one of complete social openness. They view social as a democracy of ideas and content -- which is why Yammer has grown (in users) at such an astounding rate. But compared to SharePoint and the enterprise content management feature set that drove much of its success, there is a noticeable lack of control over what is shared and by whom. Within the free version, while you can control who joins your network, anything shared within that network is visible to all. Paid versions provide some additional controls at the group-level, but granular control is limited. Follows, taxonomy, and granular permissions are missing. Microsoft has a lot of work to do -- we still do not know the roadmap, and expect to hear much more out of Redmond this spring to this effect. The end result will be a social juggernaut, and I expect it to dramatically change the SharePoint story.


Beyond SharePoint and Yammer, there are some principles which any social platform must take into consideration to find sizeable adoption within the enterprise. The first step is to make your social traffic visible. CIO's have been notoriously slow to adopt social, not because they don't see the potential for the technology within the enterprise, but because of the holes many of these tools open up into the firewall and other risks (whether real or imagined).


Where are people collaborating? Who is (and isn't) participating? How much content is being shared? To make social work, we need to better understand what is happening across the platform, and have the ability to set guidelines and restrictions based on security and compliance requirements. Only through visibility can we do more to measure, improve, automate, and iterate on our broader collaboration strategies.


Visibility is the necessary first step to governance. You cannot manage what you cannot measure.

#enterprisecollaboration #Collaboration #SharePoint #sharepoint #Collaboration #InformationGovernance #enterprisesocial #social #EnterpriseSocialNetworks #ESN