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Over the last few weeks we've heard loads of "buzz" about infusing social media services into productivity apps. From Google's Buzz to Salesforce.com's Chatter to our own Outlook Social Connector, user demand for connecting the productivity tools they know and love with social networking apps they increasingly can't live without is apparent. But what does this mean for business productivity? Will we be more efficient? Or maybe more distracted? I have a few thoughts.
One of the first questions customers ask about social networking within the enterprise is, "What are you doing about privacy and security?" These two critical concepts were top of mind as we built the Outlook Social Connector. For more on how seriously we take our customers' privacy and security, check out the Trustworthy Computing team's blog. I will also hit on this topic in future posts.
For this post, I'd like to focus on how social networking, if leveraged in a strategic way, can help businesses be more efficient and productive. I'll focus on two activities that I think are most pertinent: community and collaboration.
Let's take the community element first. Working for one of the largest companies in the world, I can vouch for the need to create a better sense of internal communities across teams and across the whole organization. Social networking has the potential to allow people to more easily find and connect with one another. Many great companies encourage employees to establish interest groups based on skills, hobbies, backgrounds, ethnicities, etc. These groups become part of the organizational DNA and foster a culture of respect, openness and diversity. Social networking catapults this notion by allowing such groups to flourish with ease across time zones.
There is also a case to be made for external communities. As more people meld together their personal and professional networks in spaces like Facebook and LinkedIn, it's easy to discern that making "connections" between the productivity tools and social sites has the potential to draw people closer together. This fusion of the productivity and social worlds fosters faster discovery of data/insights/opinions that impact personal and professional decision making.
From a collaboration standpoint, whether a business creates seamless linkages with external social networks or builds its own internally (i.e. with SharePoint2010), it can increase the ease and speed of sharing and cross-pollinating ideas that may now only exist in pockets throughout the organization.
By infusing presence, awareness + contact capabilities across our Unified Communications, Office and SharePoint offerings, we are seeing that people are finding expertise faster, getting answers in real-time, and finishing deliverables sooner. I can see a similar future for the social productivity paradigm. By linking social networking with the productivity experience, we can collaborate with more people (inside and outside the organization), truly enable "outside of the box (or organization) thinking," and produce higher quality deliverables more efficiently.
Of course, we're still in the early days, and we have a lot to learn collectively, but it is exciting nonetheless.
What do you think? How do you see social networking changing the way we work? I'd love to hear your thoughts.
-- Takeshi Numoto
Corporate Vice President, Office Product Management Group
This post was mentioned on Twitter by DougKim: Is social networking at work a good thing or time waster? http://is.gd/9bfJQ
I see social networking at work as a good thing. Example: When you need help with an idea or a task, you can send a call out to your whole network, instead of just to the one person down the hall. I've seen connections made and new thinking happening because of the breadth of perspective that you can gather via a social network that would not have happened by just gum-shoeing it.
I found some related academic research that lends support to the ideas you advance here. I summarized the research here: blogs.msdn.com/.../social-networking-and-workplace-productivity.aspx
Thanks for your post!
Brilliant post, Takeshi! Led me to write one about SharePoint Communities 2010 (link listed above).
In this post, I wanted to embrace and extend Microsoft Corporate Vice President Takeshi Numoto’s ”Productivity
Starting today you can connect to MySpace from the Outlook 2010 Beta using MySpace for Outlook , the latest addition to the Outlook Social Connector. The Outlook team blog has the details and what and how, and here's our background on what the Outlook
This is the next level of communication for sure!! Organizations will have not choice but to embrace such paradigm where "We" matters more than "Me" - If they have to keep themselves alive ... :))
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