NewsGator Talks SharePoint, The Future of Social Computing
It has been a very good year for social computing solutions in the enterprise. For NewsGator (news, site), the tightly integrated relationship with SharePoint has likely proved a smart move and will continue to do so into 2010.

On Working With SharePoint

We asked J.B. Holston, NewsGator CEO and President how NewsGator's Social Sites works with the new social computing capabilities that will come with SharePoint 2010.

Holston told us that because they have such a close working relationship with Microsoft, they have been privvy to the work that was done with SharePoint 2010 on the social side. This has provided them the ability to focus their development on applications and social capabilities that leverage that new investment.

And this is a good relationship. NewsGator is one of only a few companies that builds their solution directly on top of SharePoint. In doing so, it enables them to take advantage of platform level functionality to build advanced capabilities like micro-blogging, communities and mobile -- things that are in demand.

The Most Popular Features of Social Sites

In fact, some of the most popular features of Social Sites are the communities, micro-blogging and mobile capabilities. Other popular features include enhanced content management via RSS, social analytics and a much simpler UI than SharePoint out of box.

A Look Back and Forward on Social Computing

There has been a lot of movement in social computing in the enterprise. As he takes a look back Holston tells us that a year ago the conversation was all about ROI and use cases. Enterprises were still considering and experimenting with social computing.

Now, Holston says, the focus has changed to deploying solutions enterprise wide and getting the highest return stories for initial deployments (which are usually one or two elements of social computing like micro-blogging).

Holston also points to increasing interest in breaking down traditional enterprise barriers and bringing in capabilities like mobile and external social networks. And, maybe even more important, developing business applications with a strong social element -- think social CRM, social product development. Says Holston, " It won’t be long before social computing is simply one dimension of all enterprise work flows, in our view."

The Converging Paths of WCM and Social Computing

And what about web content management? There has been an increased focus over the last year to include a number of social features into WCM systems. Even more interesting, we seen some social computing vendors, like Jive Software, add WCM elements to their solutions.

We asked Holston if he sees these technologies as converging down the road, or will they always remain separate. His answer:

Part of the reason we leverage SharePoint so aggressively is because we do see tremendous value in providing the social layer on top of broad-gauged enterprise platforms that can handle WCM, ECM, search, etc. This has been fundamental to our strategy in enterprise social computing for a couple of years, and it’s been the right call.

2010 Predictions and Roadmaps

As a provider of social computing solutions, we knew Holston would have some predictions for where the market is headed in 2010. He gave us two:

  1. ‘Social’ will become an attribute of virtually all enterprise applications, and all normal enterprise workflow, through 2010.
  2. Enterprises will have to directly confront mobile in 2010.

And as for a sneak peek into the roadmap for Social Sites? Priorities include enabling more workflow to take advantage of the social layer (particularly around communities), richer social apps like mentoring and training, mobile solutions and of course a SharePoint 2010 release with the official drop of SharePoint 2010.

And for those who can't wait for new stuff to come from NewsGator until 2010, rumor has it there's a new version coming before the end of the year which is focused on its rich micro-blogging capabilities.