Tomoye Communities for SharePoint
What's the different between a community and a social networking site? A lot says Tomoye, provider of the Communities for SharePoint solution. Today they announce their latest version of the knowledge management and collaboration SharePoint solution designed with the enterprise in mind. CMSWire had an opportunity to see the Communities for SharePoint solution and talk with CEO and Co-Founder Eric Sauve.

Tomoye in Brief

Tomoye, based out of Ottawa, Canada, has been in the social media market for over eight years now. Their Tomoye Ecco Communities solution currently has over 500,000 seats deployed in the enterprise. Although primarily in the enterprise space, they are moving more and more into solutions for B2B and B2C markets. The majority of their seats are with organizations such as the US Department of Defense, the US Army, the Canadian and US Governments. Similar in many aspects to the Awareness social media platform, Tomoye is not just about selling a technology solution. They have a strategic support model that helps organizations set measurable targets for their communities like growth and engagement targets.

The Community vs the Social Network

So what exactly is the difference between a community and a social network? Eric Sauve defines the difference this way. A community is a common space that houses the voice of multiple people all with similar needs and/or working towards the same goals. A social network, on the other hand, is a space that houses many people all with their own stuff. It's individual-based, not community based. How does the difference matter? The engagement is different Sauve says. Their solutions focus on the engaging the community.

Tomoye Communities for SharePoint

The Tomoye Communities for SharePoint isn't new. It was actually introduced back in June, probably at the same time that all the other Microsoft social media partnerships were announced at the Enterprise 2.0 conference -- but we didn't cover their solution back then.
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Home Page

Tomoye was approached by Microsoft to develop a strong community solution for SharePoint. Their technical solution, along with their Community Growth Process model, is designed to be better than building directly on top of SharePoint itself. Like many of the others, their solution is two-fold. You can embed web parts into SharePoint to show Tomoye Community services, or you can push SharePoint content into the Tomoye Community solution. Either way, you are getting some nice community functionality. The solution has a number of features that offer advanced community and collaboration support in the SharePoint environment including:

Community Taxonomy

Tomoye Communities are organized based on themes. This approach is better than organizing content purely by content type (although you can also find content in that manner). This pulls together content from blogs, people, discussions and documents, giving a community full access to the people and content they need. Communities can be created for internal and/or external groups. Tomoye doesn't just reach beyond the firewall, they can straddle it.

Expert Classification

The solution determines who experts are by their activity in the community. It does not rely on having a person complete their profile and say what their knowledge is. The community will also show you who the most active experts area and who is the most helpful.

Community Metrics

The Tomoye metrics engine helps you track important activity within the community such as who uses the community the most so that you can nurture that relationship and reward it, and track popular content. There's a ranking tool at the bottom of each page and an Advanced Report for Administrators that shows trends and campaigns and finds the most active people in the community.
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Metrics for the user

Users can view metrics such as page views, number of questions, number of answers, attachments downloaded, videos downloaded, etc..
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Metrics Admin Reports

SharePoint Powerpack

The SharePoint integration is in line with all the other social media solutions: * Publish documents from SharePoint to the Community * Easily move between the two applications with integrated authentication * See SharePoint sites in Community taxonomy * Search community content using SharePoint search * Connect people, communities via web parts in SharePoint.
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Viewing SharePoint Documents in the Community

When you push a document into the Community, you gain the ability to do a number of things such as post comment, ask a question, talk to the creator, rate and more. It's a very integrated way to work with content.

Tomoye Technical Overview

The Tomoye Community solution is built on the .Net platform and can be deployed on the same infrastructure as SharePoint. It uses the same SQL Server for content. Their largest deployment to date has over 100,000 users. It has a full API that can be accessed to integrate with other solutions, like SharePoint. They even provide access to the Web UI source code so developers are able to make changes to the look and feel of the solution. Tomoye also has a peer community of over 1,000 members that support their product and shares code -- much like an open source development community.

Giving SharePoint a Community Solution

"Tomoye’s communities of practice is a strong compliment to SharePoint, creating a seamless platform where knowledge workers can create true business value." Deb Bannon, senior product manager for Microsoft’s SharePoint Server Partner Group., Microsoft Corporation. Pricing for the Tomoye Community Solution starts at US$ 35 per seat. But as with all solutions, pricing scales and gets better with enterprise agreements. You can get more information about the Communities for SharePoint solution on their website. They have a number of quick hit videos that demonstrate the functionality in their communities. This solution appears to be very good. The collaboration capabilities it adds to documents stored within SharePoint is enough to encourage any organization to take a closer look. That coupled with the expertise classification functionality will help many develop and engage strong communities.