Sharepoint 2010

Enough about the technology!

As intranet managers and communicators, we fought long and hard for many years to become technology agnostic and rather than talk in terms of specific technologies we fought to talk in terms of user requirements and user/business needs. Amazingly, we won!

SO WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED!?

Today, the world seems only to be talking about technology (99% about SharePoint) and we’ve ditched our agnosticism. While I understand that for many of us SharePoint IS the solution we are having to digest, we should still be talking about user needs and not technical functionality – even if we know we might have to compromise in some instances.

By focusing on the technology we are giving carte blanche to IT teams to present functionality/capabilities to us based around technical paths of least resistance for them and their platforms, rather than testing the technology to its full extent to meet business needs. As a result, conversations are almost entirely focussed around what the technology can do and not want the business needs.

PLEASE … before it’s too late … enough about the technology!

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Thoughts on SharePoint governance

Nothing seems to attract attention more these days to a blog post than sticking the words SharePoint and governance in the title … without wishing to jump on the bandwagon – actually, jumping firmly on the bandwagon with a double backwards flip and triple salco thrown in – here are my thoughts to add to the cascade of information on the subject.

[To be honest, what follows is not specific to SharePoint but you’ve got to grab attention where you can! 🙂 ]

Anyway … it seems to me that when people talk about intranet governance they seem to view the intranet as a single amorphous blob which needs to be governed (read controlled) in one way. To me, this misses a whole spectrum of nuances around user needs and normally results in an overly restrictive governance regime designed for top-end, formal content being imposed across all content types and all user needs (see previous posts on the subject of differing content types: Changing nature of intranet content; and Content types should complement not compete).

To take account of different content types and user needs, you really need different governance models running in parallel with differing levels of control along a spectrum – a kind of controlometer if you like … at one end: total control; and at the other: the opposite of total control … whatever that is … anarchy; chaos; trust – you choose!

So, below is an attempt to illustrate the above in diagrammatic form.

As an aside, there’s one content type I’ve listed which might surprise people – the under-web. It strikes me that in the drive for control of intranet content over the last few years – fuelled by sound business reasons – we’ve stifled innovation and creativity and decoupled experimentation from core intranet platforms driving it under desks where it is extremely difficult to benefit from the great things which go on in these spaces. We should always legislate for experimentation in our governance models.

A final point, content types shouldn’t be kept apart in a kind of quarantine from each other … there should be exposure and cross fertilisation of different content types both to the left and right of the spectrum to generate valuable context.

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The challenge for internal comms in the social enterprise

I spoke earlier in the week at the Melcrum SharePoint User Forum on the subject of: the challenges facing the internal comms (IC) profession in the social enterprise. I wasn’t able to talk as much about SharePoint as perhaps I was expected to as, quite frankly, we don’t have a lot to show yet … which is another story entirely! 😦

Anyway, I thought I’d share some thoughts on the challenges facing the IC profession in a social enterprise. The slide below pretty well sums it up …

Having scoped the challenge, I started thinking about how comms people should respond … something I’ve touched upon before. I decided to write a vision statement for a world in which internal comms is REALLY engaged … a bit old-fashioned maybe, but it helped crystallize my thinking. Anyway, my first bash at it is below … I’d value your thoughts and feedback:

A community of internal comms practitioners embedded into the social fabric of BT as power-networkers influencing the conversations and culture of the organisation to meet its business objectives. A community engaged in communications activities underpinned by social interactivity and conversation to help BT employees arrive at shared understanding of what is expected of them from the communications we create and disseminate.

[PS – my slides from the Melcrum event are available on slideshare]

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You can’t run and you can’t hide … from Sharepoint 2010

It’s true … you can’t run, and you can’t hide. The inexorable roll out of Sharepoint 2010 (SP2010) is about to begin in earnest. From my brief and unscientific poking around on our trial instance, it looks like SP2010 answers many of the niggling questions I had about SP2007 – particularly in the user-generated content (UGC) space. The enhancements Microsoft has made to the social functionality compared with SP2007 are significant – better blogs, better wiki functionality, beefed-up personal profile and social networking-type functionality (within the constraints of the SP environment of course) all integrated into one platform … good stuff.

As it looks increasingly inevitable that SP2010 will power a significant portion of our intranet going forward – including our social media functionality – I should be excited … and I am … sort of … and sort of not.

I’m not sure why, but the prospect of SP2010 powering our social content leaves me feeling slightly depressed. It may just be that I’ll be sad to see all the lovely social tools I so lovingly helped to nurse into the business being replaced by the SP monolith … or it may be something deeper … more intuitive. I can’t help feeling that we’re going to lose something fundamental by institutionalising … or even corporatizing … our social tools in this way. While I always wanted our social and collaborative content to be fully integrated into the mainstream way of working inside our organisation, this wasn’t how I had imagined it would happen – it appears you just can’t please some people.

On the other hand, this could be the best thing to happen to corporate social content since its conception … and I may just be an old social media dinosaur … I guess only time will tell.

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