Yammer this week said that it will integrate its enterprise social networking suite with Microsoft's SharePoint 2010 collaboration software. And SharePoint 2010 adds a bevy of new social features such as real wikis and improved social computing and content management. The big question revolves around whether SharePoint 2010 is social enough.
At the Gartner Symposium conference SharePoint 2010 was a key topic. Why? Enterprises have adopted SharePoint even though some acknowledge they don't quite know what to do with it. Half of Gartner's clientele has SharePoint installed.
Depending on who you talk to, SharePoint is either a great collaboration tool or a headache. There's not a lot of in between.
In a presentation Thursday, Gartner analyst Mark Gilbert framed the SharePoint issue around a question: Is it enterprise class? Since I haven't played around with SharePoint and haven't really found any tech exec that can explain the software to me in two minutes I can't really address that question. Luckily Mary Jo Foley can:
- SharePoint: The team that makes the donut(s)
- What makes Microsoft's SharePoint tick?
- Microsoft: Office 2010, SharePoint 2010 released to manufacturing
However, is worth noting one section of Gilbert's talk on social computing. Gilbert's point caught my eye because it raised a few questions:
- Can social features really be feature that's on a long upgrade cycle?
- Should social additions just be pushed to you as a service?
- Can Microsoft, or any large enterprise vendor, keep up with the latest social advancements?
- Do these vendors really have to keep up?
- And will SharePoint APIs garner enough pure play social players like Yammer to join the ecosystem that those aforementioned questions don't matter?
That's a lot to digest. Note that SharePoint is for internal collaboration---it's not designed to do what Salesforce.com's Chatter does. However, there are social components that matter to SharePoint. Here's Gilbert's slide on SharePoint 2010's social improvements.
But here are the weaknesses according to Gilbert.
- SharePoint doesn't eliminate the needs for additional social tools and applications because you may not be able to wait three years for a new feature.
- SharePoint 2010 could be overkill. Sure, there's integration with Microsoft's software, but that requires a commitment.
- If social analytics does become a big deal, SharePoint 2010 lacks the heft to get the job done.
- SaaS does social better although Microsoft is pushing parity.
Clearly, enterprises are landing on the SharePoint side of the equation, but the question is worth asking: Can SharePoint be social enough if things like Twitter feeds become business intelligence? And can an upgrade cycle accommodate the features that all of your employees come to expect on the social front?