Social Is at the Center of Productivity

By Christian Buckley posted 12-28-2015 21:31


At the 2014 Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, CEO Nadella shared a new vision for the company with a focus on platforms and productivity. For those of us within the SharePoint community, this change of focus was already well underway. With the release of SharePoint 2013, it was announced that all innovation would be focused on the cloud first, and that Office 365 would be at the forefront of the productivity strategy.

In a memorandum to employees in July 2014, Nadella stated:

“Productivity for us goes well beyond documents, spreadsheets and slides. We will reinvent productivity for people who are swimming in a growing sea of devices, apps, data and social networks. We will build the solutions that address the productivity needs of groups and entire organizations as well as individuals by putting them at the center of their computing experiences. We will shift the meaning of productivity beyond solely producing something to include empowering people with new insights. We will build tools to be more predictive, personal and helpful.”

“Every experience Microsoft builds will understand the rich context of an individual at work and in life to help them organize and accomplish things with ease.”  Read more at

Of course, technology is just one aspect of any productivity strategy. In the new world of information management and collaboration, where social plays such an important role in driving workplace productivity, organizations must consider how they will approach productivity as part of their corporate governance activities. As they seek to improve productivity within the enterprise, there are four key areas that every organization should clearly define and develop strategies for:

  1. Information and Collaboration Management

    Within the past decade, document collaboration has evolved from a team-based toolset to a business-critical requirement for the enterprise. As the leading document management and collaboration platform, SharePoint—and its online successor, Office 365, which also includes web-based email and communications services—has helped enterprises to break down many of the data silos surrounding their content and business processes. But while collaboration platforms are relatively easy to deploy and start using, most environments struggle with end user adoption and ongoing engagement due to a lack of alignment with key business processes, and a failure to understand the motivations of their end users.

  2. Capture and Correlation

    A knowledge management platform is only as good as the information it holds within. For example, a number of vendors have built their businesses on the capture of paper-based knowledge assets. And yet the volume of digital and rich media assets far surpasses the paper problem. In 2014, it was estimated that the average SharePoint farm contained over 1TB of data, but was growing 50 percent to 75 percent per year. As more and more organizations begin to focus on social interactions and Big Data assets, this rate of growth will only increase. It will become increasingly important to ensure all pertinent data is being captured and is identified in context to projects, customer data, business processes, legal and regulatory restrictors, and other related assets.

  3. Social Interaction

    With the rise of popularity of social networking platforms in the consumer space over the past decade, many enterprises began to look at these same social capabilities as a way to improve the “stickiness” of their knowledge management and collaboration platforms. As the capabilities of these tools matured, their use as communications tools has evolved as well, with most enterprise applications now including some sort of social capabilities. Instant messaging, once a stand-alone tool, has now become ubiquitous for internal communication. And SharePoint and competitive platforms provide inline social experiences that allow for contextual interactions within key workloads, such as when jointly editing a PowerPoint presentation.

    The current reality is that these social technology tools, including Microsoft Yammer, Salesforce Chatter, and any other competitive social platform, generate massive amounts of valuable content. And they help our systems to better understand how we work and who we work with, providing yet another indispensable layer to our knowledge management platforms.

  4. Search and Dissemination
  5. Search has always been a central knowledge management concern. Storing content is relatively easy; creating a search platform that is easy to use and also powerful is both art and science. As the volume and complexity of our data has grown, the need for dynamic, powerful and personalized tools to help us search, find and share our content has become a business imperative. Microsoft understood the search requirement when it acquired FAST Search in 2008. Microsoft built upon the technology for its 2010 and 2013 releases to develop a new family of search-based capabilities, such as Delve and Clutter, available through SharePoint Online (as part of Office 365).

    Using machine learning and the data captured through social interactions, Delve offers a personalized view of an end user’s content, organized by content currently accessed, by content shared by team members, or by learning from end-user activities. One of the problems with traditional search is that you need to know something about what you are looking for. Whereas Delve can surface data based on your interactions and the importance of that content to people within your close network. Clutter likewise uses machine learning to filter your email based on past history, reducing the amount of “noise” coming through your mailbox.

As you begin to think about the future of your own knowledge and collaboration management platforms, take the time for honest reflection about what tools and processes are helping you to identify, classify, contextualize and correlate your information assets. And identify which ones are hindering that process. The success of any project can hinge on having a shared understanding of what is to be achieved.

[Excerpt from "Improve It! A Collection of Essays on Using Analytics to Accomplish More With SharePoint" which is available for free from WebTrends through this link]

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