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Social Networking with SharePoint – a Primer
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With the Advent of the Web 2.0, the concept of Social Networking has experienced a great deal of visibility as a means to increase productivity, through shared knowledge amongst groups of people or communities. And with this concept really taking off on the Internet, there is acknowledgment, within organizations, of the fact that the community concept really is a means of developing, harnessing and maintaining long term organizational memory, and communities are in fact an effective way for organizations to capture unstructured data, and to share knowledge outside of the traditional structural boundaries.

It has been further observed that Social Networking within enterprises can also assist in the extinction of Information and capability silos by identifying subject matter experts and resources. The fact that now it could be possible to discover and identify people, teams and information related to their specific initiatives and efforts, through an understanding of the web model, has information workers wanting these social networking applications at their disposal more than ever. And even Organizations have started to realize the potential of these applications and as a mechanism to unlock and surface unstructured data and valuable information.

Having said that, it is absolutely essential for organizations to invest in, and choose the right kind of application to host these solutions. And we are going to discuss, in this article, about how SharePoint’s inherent Social Networking capabilities, along with its robust platform could just be the right application for you.

Some of the Social Networking Components of SharePoint

User Profile: This is the Profile information of a user, where users store their personal information.

My Sites: These are personalized Sites created for each user, allowing him to create blogs, wikis, store his personal documents, Share information with others, etc.

Organizational Hierarchy Web Part: This Web Part shows, where the user is situated, in terms of hierarchy, in the corporate pantheon.

Colleagues Web Part: This web Part allows the user to mention who colleagues are and define his relationship with them though the use of Meta data.

People Search: This feature allows users to be able to search for colleagues based on filter criteria.

Though SharePoint, does not have all the components to be called a complete Social Networking Solution, such as bookmarking, Tagging, the ability to publish this internal data on the Internet, and more extensive support for Forms based authentication, etc, but nevertheless, It is a great platform for building robust and flexible Enterprise 2.0 solutions that are extensible and secure, and leverage Web 2.0 in a holistic fashion to empower business users, and help organizations become more agile, efficient and productive, all in a seamless and secure fashion., but it is a great starting point, and given the fact that it is already being touted as a great publishing and Business platform, and with the progress being made in the social networking aspects, it is a good platform to bet on.

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