Much has been written on SharePoint’s new social tools: MySites, activity feeds, tags, notes and others. However, adoption of these features is poor and many organizations lack an understanding of how the tools can actually provide them with tangible benefits and save them money. There are a number of both technical and non-technical points that create a compelling argument for the adoption of SharePoint’s new social features.
Leveraging Hidden Organizational Structures
Social tools can be leveraged to uncover hidden organizational structures; ones that mimic water-cooler conversations, golf days, hallway chats -- and can be so vital to decision making.
Being able to connect with fellow employees through search, and discover their actions by following their status, tags, notes or blogs can surface information that would otherwise not be available by direct questions or emails. It is the very act of social interaction within SharePoint that can help discover how users really interact, and how the organization functions as a whole. This can be vital information in terms of reorganizing or optimizing an organization’s structure and process.
(Editor's Note: Get a handle on SharePoint's Social Features. Read: Evaluating SharePoint 2010 as an Enterprise 2.0 Platform)
Increased Employee Engagement
Engaging employees is key to the success of many organizations today. Employees don’t want to be merely fed information; they would like to have a hand in the creation and direction of it. Social tools such as tags and ratings engage employees by allowing them to indicate what they think has the greatest relevance and value.
Rather than paying for research, social tools in SharePoint can be used to give employees a voice and thereby uncover what they find most important. Social content repositories such as blogs, wikis and discussion boards now have the added capabilities of notes, rankings and tagging that allow users to add context to their contributions.
There is an interrelatedness of the engagement that occurs at both the social and business level. Similar to social clubs, like sports teams or charity groups found in many organizations, social tools can be used to create a sense of community and belonging within an organization.
Research has shown that when employees are engaged in an organization they are also more loyal and hardworking. Social tools provide the platform to create these relationships at a very low cost to an organization and offer the flexibility of choosing an appropriate level of governance to manage it.
Fostering Innovation From Those in The Know
A direct result of an organization moving to more of a social model in information sharing is the ability to foster innovation. Social tools provide a level playing field and don’t restrict concepts and ideas to be explored from only a traditional top-down approach.
The pattern of innovation within an organization can change from department-driven to employee-driven, once employees feel comfortable contributing. This can add valuable insight to many business problems and provide solutions which incorporate a range of users’ knowledge.