SharePoint 2013 is now publicly available and enterprises are taking an earnest look at many of its features, specifically the social features. I won’t lie, I’m a fairly decent microblogger, and at Improving Enterprises we actively use Yammer to communicate company-wide. That feature is increasingly useful to have meaningful conversations when it comes to promoting achievements, asking questions that require a larger audience to answer, and to share transient things like pictures and videos. However, when it comes to sharing documents and collaborating on a project, SharePoint wins over Yammer every time. That’s why we have Office 365 within our company. So, to hear that many of Yammer’s features are now native to SharePoint, I became very interested in digging in - as did my customer.
Improving is not nearly as large a company as the customer I work for. They are a financial institution with 40k+ employees worldwide. As a result, they have a distinct need to be social. But, they are also encumbered with some regulatory restrictions affecting their social deployment. As a result, introducing social across their firm is quite a challenge, especially when there are many stakeholders who are considering multiple competing products, including Jive, The Open Source Q&A System (OSQA), and Yammer.
A large part of social in the listed products and many other social networks is the concept of tagging. SharePoint 2010 started venturing down the path of tags by creating the Tags and Notes board, giving users the ability to tag files and lists publicly (or privately), making it easier to categorize items in SharePoint. You could also enhance your user profile by indicating what topics (Keywords) you should be asked about, giving users a sense that you’re the expert in those key fields. All in all, a good step in the social direction, but still behind the curve.
SharePoint 2013 continued to build on tagging with the introduction of #tags (prononunced hashtags). This is more beneficial to the social story for many reasons. First: hashtags become a first-class citizen in the sense that users no longer have to go out of their way to add a tag to something (like a conversation, comment, or microblog entry). Second: hashtags are always public, meaning that users have the collection of hashtags at their fingertips, giving them helpful hints on how to categorize their entry. Third: hashtags seem to be used anywhere you can tag - whether it’s in conversations, comments, or when tagging documents or libraries.
However, as I continued to dig into the social and tagging story, there seems to be some discrepancies in several of the features. The purpose of this post is to highlight that while #tags seem to be the direction that Microsoft would rather push users to use in their tagging strategy, integrating their existing social tagging strategy seemed to be left behind in SharePoint 2013.