Monday, June 9, 2008

Social Computing Platforms: IBM & Microsoft Part 2

Mike Gotta, Principal Analyst at Burton Group provides a brief introduction to social computing and layout the key issues strategists should consider as they listen to the workshop presentations and demonstrations. IBM and Microsoft then detail their social computing platforms and demonstrate its various capabilities while answering questions from the moderator. The workshop end withs a Q&A session to address audience concerns.

  • Heidi Votaw, Program Director, Social Computing Software, IBM
  • Lawrence Liu, Technical Product Manager, Microsoft
  • Suzanne Minassian, IBM Lotus Connections Product Manager, IBM
  • Venky Veeraraghavan, Program Manager, Microsoft
My Notes:
See my notes on Part 1.
Here are my notes on the continuation:

Lawrence started off with an overview of the Sharepoint platform. They rely on partners for tagging, flagging and rating tools. To highlight the holes in Sharepoint he is spending a great deal of time talking about what their partners' applications rather than the functionality of Sharepoint.

The demo starts up with going to My Site. The page combines email, calendar, presence, rss feeds and few other items. Everything in Sharepoint is built on lists or libraries.

They have a few different ways to post to a blog. There is a way to do it directly from MS Word 2007. (Of course, few big firms have Office 2007.) He quickly jumped into partner functionality by showing a tag and rating column for a blog post library.

Next up is the Sharepoint wiki. The wiki is extended with tags provided from a third party application. (David Hobbie of Caselines is going to love that application.) The Sharepoint wiki has a history and incoming links. Both are rudimentary wiki functions. Their concept was to keep it simple. Microsoft thinks that most people are not used to wikis or the information stream from wikis. (I agree. Wikis inside the enterprise are still foreign to most workers.)

I was surprised to see him pull up the issue of discovery and the ability to pull back information in the event of a lawsuit. I did not think we would run into lawyers so quickly.

He moved onto the workflow piece of Sharepoint. This is one of the strong traits of Sharepoint by getting it much more involved in the business process.

On the RSS settings you can decide which information gets pushed out in the blog posts. So custom columns can be included or excluded from the RSS feed.

[I think he is losing some of the audience. He is demonstrating functions but doing a poor job of showing why you do these things. As a Sharepoint user I am fairly interested. The backchannel for the session is getting rowdy.]

On to the My Site function of Sharepoint. He is de-constructing the webparts on a demo My Site. The calendar and inbox are out of the box webparts that tie into Exchange. The model for the blog is for it to be set up on the MySite. So the blog post webpart also show the comments to the blog posts. The Sharepoint websites webpart shows all of the sites that you belong to. It shows the documents you have worked with on those sites. The My Site is a full fledged site, so it can host documents as well. There are two document libraries out of the box: one personal and one shared. You can also create any of the underlying lists on your My Site.

They also have role-based My Sites. It is a personalized view of information made available to you. It displays dashboards of information.

Then there is a profile page. This is your public view to the enterprise. It starts off with basic business card information. Then they had a section that pushes out some more detailed information, mapped from other systems. Another section shows the person in the organizational hierarchy: who you report to and who reports to you.

For linking, they showed the My Links function in Sharepoint. They can be displayed on the My Sites page.

For documents, another webpart shows the documents you have worked on (in Sharepoint).

There is a big taxonomy for people to round out their public information. Unfortunately is a clunky database looking thing. Much of the information could be pre-populated from other systems: Pictures, phone number, projects, birthday (but not year!) etc. You can also designate who sees what pieces of information.

They acknowledge that a "white pages" directory or people is easy. But a "yellow pages" directory of people is harder. Sharepoint allows a yellow pages search on people by indexing and allowing you to search the My Sites. It breaks the search results into "your colleagues" and "your colleagues' colleagues."

[The back channel is getting very punchy and hungry. Lots a metaphors about what a lunch from Microsoft would be: Two slices of bread and you got to our partners to get filling and condiments.]

The colleague functions is database looking follow feature or friend's feature from Facebook. They also have a tool to identify colleagues. It can mine emails to see who you are communicating with and suggest colleagues. [This is pretty interesting. I have not stumbled across this yet. I would guess that you need Office 2007 for it to work.]

More information on My Sites from Microsoft.

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