When Microsoft announced the release of SharePoint 2013 last fall, the question we heard most often was “what’s new and different?” With the official launch expected any day, we’re highlighting some of the new and noteworthy upgrades to SharePoint 2013. This week: a closer look at the Top 5 social features in SharePoint 2013, and how they fill the gaps SharePoint 2010 had with social capabilities.
Communities have been standard in social platforms like NewsGator and Yammer for years, and now SharePoint 2013 is adding these capabilities. With SharePoint 2013, you can create communities for members of a project team, an enterprise-wide process, a user group, or any other group with a purpose. Members can comment, reply, and grow their reputation within the community while teams stay more connected. Top contributors are easily highlighted so you know who is active and a leader within the community.
ACTIVITY STREAM / MICROBLOGGING
Microsoft calls this their Newsfeed feature – basically, the Facebook or Twitter-like ability to post comments for others to see and view colleagues’ activities. Employees can follow comments, documents, and communities to keep in touch with what is happening in the areas that are most important to them. For example, when a user you are following saves a document in SharePoint, you see this activity in real-time in your Newsfeed, and can preview the document without opening it. Likes, replies, mentions, and hash tags stimulate conversation across organizational boundaries.
Yammer is not new with SharePoint 2013, but this is the first release of SharePoint since Microsoft acquired Yammer in 2012. Yammer is, and had always been, strictly a cloud-based product, so it makes sense that the initial integration between SharePoint and Yammer will focus on the online version of SharePoint 2013. Office365 comes prepackaged with Yammer Enterprise at a reduced price, so using Yammer and SharePoint together is becoming easier to do. Additionally, Yammer web parts integration is included with the on-premise version of SharePoint. You can expect to see more from Microsoft on tighter integration between SharePoint and Yammer.
MY SITE IMPROVEMENTS
SharePoint 2013 expands My Site’s capabilities to include more personal and professional information, which allows users to find others with needed expertise. My Sites are where users access their personal Activity Stream and keep tabs on everything (people, documents, sites) that they are following. SkyDrive Pro is an enterprise version of Microsoft’s consumer SkyDrive service, giving your employees a location in the cloud to store and share files. Employees can work on files offline and access them from home, hotels, and remote offices.
SEARCH GOES SOCIAL
Microsoft focused on expanding search capabilities in SharePoint 2013, and Social Search is one of the areas benefiting from this attention. Expertise search allows users to find authors of documents that contain material related to the search terms. This allows employees to not only find people who list expertise in a profile, but also those who have demonstrated expertise by developing content. Further, people results and document results can be combined to make the search experience even more user friendly. Other search features include recommendations and higher placement for popular content.
Microsoft has made great strides in providing SharePoint 2013 with rich social capabilities, and leading social platforms like NewsGator and Yammer continue to innovate and introduce new functionality. Companies looking to take social to the next level will need to determine if SharePoint 2013 alone will meet their immediate and future needs, or if a third party product on top of SharePoint will provide additional benefits.