As businesses evolve from being information or knowledge centered to being more people centered, SharePoint 2013 offers a range of features to support the shift. 

SharePoint 2013 is essentially a web application platform that provides functionality to enable, among other things, the creation of web sites, Web 2.0 collaboration features such as wikis, blogs ratings and user profiles, enterprise content management, powerful search capability, Microsoft business intelligence reporting and analysis. From a technical perspective it offers flexibility on integrating external data as well applications, developing user interface widgets and a range of potential development options.

From Web 2.0 to Enterprise 2.0 to Organization 2.0

Web 2.0 implied not only collaborative behavior, but the technology and its associated functionality that supported this online behavior. Sites such as Amazon were trailblazers as reviews and ratings influenced users to buy products while technologies such as delicious encouraged the sharing of bookmarks.

Facebook started out with the personal life of users and then targeted business advertising and marketing, offering businesses the capability of targeting products and services at specific demographics. Technologies such as Ajax supported these developments, speeding up download time by negating the need to download an entire page at a time while rich client interface libraries creating the opportunity to develop a range of visually appealing user interfaces.

Taken in the context of a business or organization, Web 2.0 became Enterprise 2.0 as the focus was to use collaboration features to add value and produce quantifiable and qualitative benefits within this organizational context.

Organization 2.0 has now evolved from Enterprise 2.0 with more of a conceptual shift where the business moves from a traditional position of being information or knowledge centered to being one that is people centered. The key ingredients in this mix are information, people, processes, technologies and the actual facilitation. These elements combined serve to make the organization people focussed.

SharePoint 2013's Supporting Role in Organization 2.0

A range of SharePoint 2013 features can support this seismic shift.

Employee set up can be achieved through the MySite area where user profiles are stored and visibility means employees can be followed and contacted for input. Employees can store content in the My Content area, keep track of and publish content to other users in the My Newsfeeds area and display their personal and professional data within the My Profile section.

The security within SharePoint supports access to this by operating on two levels. Single users relates to individual access while the concept of groups supports departments or temporary project team members linking up together, establishing relationships and ultimately adding value to the business. User profiles define attributes or metadata that relates to each employee. Audiences are pre-defined groups that can be set up based on a number of factors including attribute values.

SharePoint 2013 also builds on community features by providing the recognition and rewarding of individuals within the social network by enabling higher ranking in search results for articles that are liked or followed by the most number of users.

The balance to be strived for in Organization 2.0 is to enable free reign of information sharing and collaboration by all employees in the organization, while maintaining a focus on the business mission, objectives strategy and tactics.

Value through knowledge and skills can exist in an employee where it is not directly related to job title or manifested in their responsibilities. While codifying such knowledge to make it explicit can often be a lengthy process, the tools to facilitate the sharing of this tacit knowledge can add real value especially in scenarios constrained by time, budget or an external driver such as a commercially driven deadline.

Exploiting this tacit knowledge that resides in the minds of employees as well as explicit knowledge that is structured in policies, procedures, company documentation or intranet sites will allow the organization to effectively harness this people centered capital and highlight areas that can be reengineered to promote more effective working business processes and working relationships.

Information Management Still Required

Organization 2.0 does not mean the removal of traditional knowledge structures. SharePoint provides a number features to support information creation, access and use.

  • Content management enables web content such as text, images and the supporting templates to be controlled.
  • Document management functionality such as versioning, and the ability to multi edit documents facilitates collaboration, reducing confusion and and duplication.
  • Records management capability provides enterprise level capability such auditing all digital content to accommodate formal legal and regulatory requirements so while the platform is people centered it does not risk business integrity.
  • Specific e-Discovery features support the retention and identification of information for future investigation.

The ease of integration with Microsoft Office means that SharePoint can exploit not only a range of Microsoft technologies but other enterprise level knowledge and collaboration applications from third party competitors such as Oracle and IBM. SharePoint Business continuity Services (BCS) provides Web Services and Application Programming Interface (API) capabilities that also enable integration with niche applications specific to the business vertical.

Monitoring can be provided by out-of-the-box analytics within SharePoint where behavior can be monitored and patterns identified to improve the quality of user interactions. The number of interactions could be monitored with initiatives to relay this information to relevant stakeholders.

While communication and collaboration are key to the delivery of Organization 2.0, not every organization can embrace it without reservation. Historical, structural and commercial considerations can inhibit the inclination to allow employees to create wikis, blogs, to review, rate and recommend content, tag and follow other employees.

Security, confidentiality and commercial sensitivity are obvious areas where necessary limits can impede the output and sharing of knowledge and necessitate employees working in a more structured hierarchical way. Matrix management structures are not suitable for all organizations, however Organization 2.0 does not imply that there must be no constraints on access to information. 

The Potential of Organization 2.0  

Crowdsourcing, capturing informal knowledge sharing and facilitating collaboration has the potential not only to bring value to an organization through expanding connections, identifying new sources of knowledge and mining data but ultimately impact the organization and restructure working patterns and processes.

SharePoint 2013 offers a range of effective social collaboration features, Enterprise Content Management, search and integration, and capability for internet, extranet and intranet web sites to be created using the .net framework. This technology and its functions are tools to be utilized for transformation. It is the mindset and behaviour of the employees which has to change to exploit and harness the expertise and underlying social capital within the business. Make the mantra to provide the tools to manage and maximize knowledge.

Organization 2.0 is no guarantee to arrive at the most effective ways of working in the marketplace and ultimately deliver success. Optimizing human behavior in the context of current human computer interaction techniques and capability does not go far enough to control the synapses of the human brain that determine behavior. Perhaps that capability will be in SharePoint 2113.

Editor's Note: Interested in reading more of the social capabilities of SharePoint 2013? Read Jennifer Mason's SharePoint 2013: Social Features Highlights