Enterprise 2.0: Spotlighting SharePoint's Wide Reach - InformationWeek

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Software // Social

Enterprise 2.0: Spotlighting SharePoint's Wide Reach

Social networking applications in the enterprise span industries as diverse as education, the military, and software development.

While it's no secret that Microsoft's SharePoint is increasingly being used for social networking applications, its wide range of uses -- from education and research to military and gaming -- is surprising, a presentation at Enterprise 2.0 revealed.

For example, officials at the Minnesota State Education Department thought social platforms could be put to productive use in education, said the department's Karen Klinzing. The SharePoint application was tightly focused on teachers and education and launched in February of this year. "We wanted to teach old dogs new tricks," she said, describing the launch of the application. "Within 24 hours we had three states on the line. It fits a niche for other states, too."

The Minnesota application fits well with Gov. Tim Pawlenty's effort to buttress the state's technology education, Klinzing noted. The SharePoint application covers territory far and wide, helping educators to converse with businesspeople. The application has sparked small connections that can be very important for individuals. For example, Klinzing cited the case of a teacher who used the application to seek help for a needy and sick student who was missing school days. A company came forth and gave the student a laptop computer.

In another example of SharePoint's wide reach, the U.S. Army is using SharePoint in its Battle Command Knowledge System to help prepare young officers for service in Iraq. When returning officers finish their tours of duty, they are videotaped and asked to describe the top 10 situations they were confronted with in Iraq.

"We're trying to get people to learn from each other," said one specialist describing the Army application. "We want to know what happens when something goes wrong." A primary advantage of showing videos to young commanding officers heading to Iraq is to give them help in preparing for the constantly changing combat territory in Iraq.

In yet another show of social computing muscle, Bert Sandie, representing EA (Electronic Arts) University, described how a large percentage of EA's 9,000 employees post articles and assorted advice that can be of value to other employees, often located thousands of miles away.

"In gaming, we have to innovate very fast," said Sandie. "And we have a lot of people in different locations working on the same problem. For instance, you can search for animation expertise at other locations." Sandie noted that although thousands of articles and other items had been posted by EA employees over the years, not one has had to be taken down.

Tom Monroe of Battelle, a large research and development organization, urged audience members interested in developing social networking applications to identify a champion within their organizations to help promote the application. People passionate about social networking and its usefulness in organizations can help the phenomenon gain acceptance quickly.

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