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Evaluating SharePoint 2010 as an Enterprise 2.0 Platform

Enterprise 2.0 means different things to different people, and Microsoft has had to play catch up to the smaller and often more nimble vendors that play in the social software space. Nevertheless, MOSS2007 was probably the first foray into 'social' computing for many an enterprise, providing blog and wiki functionality, and RSS feeds. So how does SharePoint 2010 stack up?

For our quick and dirty evaluation of SharePoint 2010 from an Enterprise 2.0 perspective, where better to start than the ‘father’ of the term, Prof. Andrew McAfee, and his SLATES model.

The SLATES model was first put forward by the Professor in his MIT Sloan Management Review article: “Enterprise 2.0: The dawn of emergent collaboration” back in 2006. The model has been extended by others, but for our purposes it remains a simple elegance for attempting to evaluate SharePoint 2010.

So what does SLATES stand for ?

  • Search —- because for information to be useful, you must be able to find it!
  • Links – for forming deep interlinking connections between items of enterprise content
  • Authorship — easy access to content creation tools with good usability
  • Tags — organization of content from all perspectives, including the end user
  • Extensions — mining user activities for useful patterns
  • Signals — efficient consumption by ‘push’ notification of changes and alerts

As you probably know and understand, SharePoint 2010 is a large platform with a very broad range of capabilities, which are split into six key areas, and are displayed in the Microsoft graphic below:

SP2010.jpg
The six business category areas of SharePoint 2010

So before we can evaluate the whole platform that is SharePoint 2010, let’s briefly describe each of these six capability areas:

  • Sites — The web publishing functionality enhanced for improved personalized experiences across intranet, extranet and internet sites.
  • Communities — The collaborative element of SharePoint, think ‘team sites’ in the MOSS 2007 vernacular, plus new features, many of which encompass elements of the SLATES model.
  • Content — The home of the enhanced Content Management features, including Records Management and some limited Digital Asset Management (audio, video and graphics files).
  • Search — One element of increased findability via SharePoint is the improvements to search. People search facilities have seen some considerable enhancements in SP2010.
  • Insights — Collaborative Business Intelligence including features such as Excel Services, Performance Point Services and Business Connectivity Services.
  • Composites — SharePoint's features for building ‘composite applications’ (aka “mashups”) this includes Visio Services, Access Services and SharePoint Designer.

To set the scene, Search is major area of functionality within SharePoint and it’s an element of SLATES, so the fact that search is well integrated into the other capability areas of SP2010 is pretty much a given for E2.0. Also the Composites area is really all about mashups and making external content available via a SharePoint ‘portal’ where that is portal with a “small p” (i.e. the presentation layer of enterprise architecture).

That said, for both Composites and Insights capability areas, the integration of some features is not total, so for example you can’t do ‘ranking’ on a graph of BI data, but many of the elements such as notifications and alerts, RSS feeds etc are available.

However, to make the evaluation fit into this article, we will concentrate on the overlapping capability areas of Sites, Communities and Content, so let’s examine each of the SLATES model’s elements for these capabilities:

Search

As noted above search is a well integrated part of the overall SharePoint platform and its resulting user experience. However the fact that a search engine is built in, is not the whole story. Simply placing documents in a SharePoint document library, with a minimal amount of metadata — in the form of SharePoint columns — will improve the findability of those documents, compared to dropping them into a file share.

 

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