SharePoint and Enterprise Social

By Irwin Lazar
On Mar 28, 2014
Friday, March 28, 2014

One of the frequent conversations we have with our clients as they develop their enterprise social collaboration strategy is around the role of SharePoint. In our 2013-14 benchmark we noted that most benchmark research participants who say they have an enterprise-wide social platform say its SharePoint. When we first published that data point, it elicited a rebuke from other enterprise social software vendors - "SharePoint isn't a social platform!" one told us. But to customers, it is. Thus, companies like IBM, Jive, and Sitrion spend marketing dollars trying to show SharePoint customers what they're missing by not embracing a broader set of social features that they each offer.

Recently the head of enterprise social for Microsoft, Jared Spataro, authored a blog post highlighting Microsoft's emerging social strategy. The bottom line is that their current direction is focused around integrating Yammer into SharePoint, not continuing to enhance the social capabilities of on-premises SharePoint. The key passage:

What about SharePoint social? We shipped basic social features with SharePoint Server 2013, and over the last year and a half I’ve had many people ask me whether they should implement SharePointsocial or Yammer. My guidance has been clear and consistent: Go Yammer! While we’re committed to another on-premises release of SharePoint Server—and we’ll maintain its social capabilities—we don’t plan on adding new social features. Our investments in social will be focused on Yammer and Office 365, so that we can innovate quickly and take advantage of the viral user adoption that is so important to the natural network effect that makes social so powerful. We recognize that many of our SharePointcustomers will continue to have large on-premises deployments for many years, but we’re investing to help customers easily manage hybrid environments so that they can connect their on-premises farms to their in-the-cloud social network.

This implies that SharePoint social is not a viable long-term option for companies who require on-premises data storage where compliance or governance reasons prohibit leveraging the cloud-based Yammer service. For these companies, consider on-premises platforms like IBM Connections, Jive, Sitrion/Newsgator, Tibbr, or VMware's SocialCast.