Thursday, 31 July 2014

Time to SMiLE for Marginalia on Engagement readers

Interested in how organisations are adopting internal social media to change the way they work, improve their communications and innovate? Simply join SMiLE London on 25th September via Marginalia on Engagement!

At simply-communicate we spend the year tracking down the best stories of Social Media Inside the Large Enterprise (SMiLE). We report and publish case studies, articles and news each Friday on our simply-communicate magazine.

While we keep a close eye on the latest technology, our main focus is the culture, the behaviours and the human side of digital transformation.

I share all my articles via social media (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Google +).

I also publish my stories here on Marginalia on Engagement - go to simply-Marginalia for the full list.

Many of you have shown great appreciation, interest and warmth around my reporting. Thank you! That gives me energy and even more enthusiasm to continue writing and publishing around a topic I feel very passionate about!

Another way to say thank you is by giving all Marginalia on Engagement’s readers an exclusive 33% saving to SMiLE London event on 25th September. All you need to do is enter the code ‘Marginalia’ in the promotional code box.

What’s SMiLE London?

SMiLE London is the biannual conference by simply-communicate on Social Media Inside the Large Enterprise.

Every six months at simply-communicate we identify the top employee social network stories from our publication. 

We do this by taking into consideration a number of factors: innovative leadership communications, cultural change, social media adoption, strategy, employee engagement, community building and much more.

However, ultimately it’s our readers who tell us what the most interesting case studies are and what they want to know more about - and we value that feedback! We then bring these successful stories live onstage at SMiLE London.

I will continue keeping you informed and updated on the subject through my reporting and publishing. At the same time I hope you will be able to join us on 25th September – just remember to enter the promotional code ‘Marginalia’ to get your 33% discount! 

What to expect from SMiLE London on 25th September? Here is the AGENDA

9:30: Welcome and State of ESNs in Europe with Marc Wright and Silvia Cambié

10:00 Keynote Speaker: Dave Shepherd, Barclays

Dave Shepherd has been working for Barclays for 25 years and has never seen anything like it. The Head of Frontline Help at the third largest UK bank is talking about the change that followed the introduction of their mobile intranet 18 months ago. Now the rest of the communications community is catching up with this revolution. The Employee App has given everyone in the Bank a voice for the first time, and underpins Barclays' Digital Eagles campaign that is giving them a real advantage in the competitive arena of digital banking.

10:40 Toby Jones, Rugby Football Union

This is an exciting time for the Rugby Football Union (RFU). With the Rugby World Cup coming to England next year there is an added impetus to improve their internal communications. Toby Jones , Internal Communications Manager at RFU explains how their SharePoint 2013 -based solution integrates with the enterprise social network (ESN) Yammer. "We launched Yammer first, in the period of July-August and let it gather momentum. Then, when the adoption levels within the network were high, we launched the full SharePoint intranet."

11:20: Break and Exhibition

11:50 Marc Jadoul of Alcatel Lucent

Marc Jadoul is the Strategic Marketing Director at Alcatel-Lucent in Belgium and one of the global advocates of their internal platform Engage. He talks about how they built a platform to last:
“If we had aligned our platform to the organisational structure of Alcatel-Lucent it would be obsolete by now. "We wanted to break the silos so there is absolutely no hierarchy in the whole system. It really is the virtual water-cooler.” 

12:30 Table sessions

A choice of 30 separate table sessions led by our expert moderators covering all aspects of social media in the large enterprise.
Some of our experts are well-known for running their own networks; others are subject experts in Engagement, Career Development, Community building, Collaboration and Adoption.

13:00 Lunch

14:00 Table sessions continued 

Your chance to get a second bite of the cherry and visit another table.
All the App developers will be there so you can discuss how to use these micro-applications to transform parts of your communications.
We will also cover SharePoint 2013 and all the Enterprise Social Networks.

14:30 Jean-Paul Chapon, Societe Generale 

Banking is undergoing a major transformation led by digital technology. Customers are increasingly using mobile devices like smart phones and tablets rather than brick-and- mortar bank branches to access their accounts and buy financial products. In order to embrace these changes however, banks need to look inside first. As Jean-Paul Chapon , Head of Digital Communication and e-Reputation at Société Générale puts it, “we cannot succeed externally and benefit from the many opportunities currently available, if we don’t change and digitalise our internal ways of working”.

15:10 Claire Goring & Laura Jennings, Dentsu Aegis Network

Claire Goring is Global Head of Internal Communications at Dentsu Aegis Network, the international media and digital marketing communications group. Claire has led and developed internal communication strategies for large organisations undergoing extensive change. Having previously worked for a number of global organisations across law, technology, engineering and telecoms, Claire has also worked for Virgin Atlantic for a number of years leading communications on a number of high profile campaigns including the hugely successful Heathrow Terminal 3 build programme, Upper Class product and Airbus new aircraft launches.

Laura Jennings is Senior Internal Communications Manager at Dentsu Aegis Network, where she manages their global channel framework and provides communication support for their global Technology function. Laura has worked across a number of medium to large size organisations including Diageo, Credit Suisse and ANZ Banking Group providing strategic advice and support in internal communications, change management and channel development. Laura has experience in launching and managing a number of social media channels within global organisations and is passionate about collaboration and social media in the workplace.

15:45 Exhibition and App Fair

16:15 Paul Thomas, Online Communications lead, Grant Thornton

The name Jam may suggest a heavy metal group improvising onstage, but, at Grant Thornton UK LLP, it’s where over 4,000 partners and employees are making an altogether different type of music. "We asked our colleagues to suggest the name for the platform; Jam resonated with the ideas of stickiness and people working together," explains Paul Thomas , Online Communications lead at the UK professional services firm. Officially rolled out to the entire organisation in March, today Jam, which is based on Jive, has an adoption rate of 84%. Success of the new ESN is the result of much hard work. It all started with a soft launch to a smaller group of people to help build advocacy around the business benefits of the platform, before launching more widely to the whole firm.

16:45 Liam Kilminster, Social Collaboration for Centrica and British Gas 

Liam Kilminster is the business lead for Social Collaboration for Centrica and British Gas. Liam has worked in online communications and intranets for over 10 years and currently implementing the Yammer strategy across British Gas. “This includes gathering user requirements from a wide range of roles including executives, customer service agents and field-based engineers, providing solutions to meet theirs and the business needs.” He has successfully launched Yammer across British Gas with excellent adoption and usage rates and is currently planning the Yammer merger with British Gas’ parent company, Centrica plc. “With the launch of our social intranet due later in the year, utilising SharePoint 2013, now is all about readying our business for the social revolution”

17:15 Conference closes

Sunday, 27 July 2014

British Gas breaks down silos with Yammer

British Gas, the largest UK energy and home services company, started to pilot their Yammer-based employee social network (ESN) in October 2013. "Initially, we trialled Yammer with a small group of 500 staff. We wanted to see if it was worth investing in the BG Network for the longer term. Eventually it was!" says Liam Kilminster, Social Media and Collaboration Manager.

Responsible for building the adoption of the ESN across the whole organisation, he provided engineers in the field with iPads and iPhones pre-loaded with the Yammer app: "Suddenly the number of users went up to 5,500. That was when I realised how much our remote employees loved it."

In fact, Liam didn't have to find champions: "engineers and other technicians became instantaneously our best advocates." Because they typically go out every day to fix boilers, they never really have the opportunity to speak with the rest of the organisation, Yammer has changed all that’. For the first time they realised that they could talk to each other. They started to invite colleagues to join the BG Network en mass, asking for ideas and sharing best practice.

The importance of training

Most of Liam's job has been around developing user guidance and communications. He met with different stakeholders, asking how they would like to use the platform and identifying their unique needs. "They gave me some really good ideas. I then went back to the management team, and we started working on the basis of that feed-back."

To encourage further adoption, Liam ran a 30-day Yammer campaign in June. He put together a month calendar of activities; every day had a specific topic, such as building profiles, sharing documents, setting up a community and making the best of analytics.

The all-employee feed was populated with pieces of advice and user guides relating to the topic. "For example, we posted material on the rationale behind the BG Network and what it could do to help people in their job." The advice was followed by concrete tips on how to use it - from uploading documents, to sharing images and videos, to commenting and to including other colleagues into conversations.

These are just a few great examples:

• Yammer is all about collaborating with colleagues - remember that the answer to your question is out there, and the best response may come from someone you never knew existed! By completing your areas of expertise you are letting your colleagues know who you are the 'go to person' for. The information you provide is also searchable so please put as much information in here as you can. Remember that Yammer is a BG wide platform, so don't forget to mention which area of BG you work in (BGR, BGB etc). It's a great feeling to answer somebody's query, so please allow them to have a chance to ask it! 

• You can follow just about anything on Yammer! In addition to people, you can also follow conversations and files. If you find a particular discussion thread or topic useful then you can follow it so that you're kept up to date with the latest developments. If you find that you're no longer interested, then it's real easy to stop following it as well - find out how in this document. 

Every day they also ran Q&As correlated with the tips shared on the platform. These were instrumental to open up dialogues around doubts as well as to speed up the learning process for the less advanced users. "It was good to see how people were stepping in answering each other queries. It was not just myself and my team giving the answers. That showed the real power of communities and collaboration."

#Yamwins

However, what employees found most engaging was a contest called #Yamwins organised during the last week of the campaign. Employees were required to share successful use cases that they had experienced since using the network.

"We saw hundred and hundred of examples. That was surprising, something that I would have never thought of." Some use cases were about finding contact information within seconds, such as a boiler part number to send straight away to an engineer. Other examples were around faults and appliances: "for example, an engineer would take the picture of something wrong with a boiler, then upload it to the network. Immediately, other engineers could work out what the problem was and give him advice on how to fix it."

There were also stories around managerial feedback. "If a technician was making a customer happy, he would post the news on the site to let the managers know about the achievement. That was a chance to get a 'Well done! Good job."

The latter example has been particularly transformational for the culture of the organisation: "In the pre-Yammer era none would know how good your job was, and praise wasn't something drawn to attention." Now, it happens every day. "This new level of appreciation has been massively important to boost the sense of inclusiveness of our field teams."

Throughout the month, Liam kept promoting the campaign. To build awareness he sent out emails and e-newsletters each week. Plus, he set up big digital screens in all the offices to display what was going on the BG Network.

After the 30-day Yammer campaign British Gas managed to have over 11,000 employees actively engaged around 700 communities.

When leadership talk with engineers

"It had never happened before to see a leader talking with an engineer."

While taking advantage of the grass-root viral adoption, having executives' buy-in was key to adoption. When the BG Network was still at its conceptual stage, Liam met with the Leadership Team to discuss the benefits of the tool to the business.

The Managing Director "got it straightaways" and became himself an evangelist. "He invited his teams to join the platform. His teams in turn, invited their own teams. It just escalated from there. In a sudden, we had all the senior management using the BG Network to talk with anybody."

The barrier in the middle

"Now we have started to hit the middle manager layer."

This is perhaps the hardest change to implement. Culturally, British Gas has always had internal politics; trying to change the status quo, the normal way of working, is hard. "Middle managers can get very twitchy about our engineers. They are the people who control projects, outputs, people performance, processes and everything else. And they still want to reply on emails."

But engineers are already using the BG Network despite what managers say. And managers are starting realising that they cannot control this.

Leadership has also stepped in with a let it go message: "Let them use Yammer and do their job, they are adults and are not going to do anything silly."

"However, we are getting there, the value of the ESN is undeniable. There is huge appetite and that cannot be stopped."

In fact, Liam is planning to run another 30-day Yammer campaign at the end of the summer. His goal is to have 30,000 staff on the BG Network by the end of the year. He knows that key is getting middle managers on board.

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This article originally appeared on simply-communicate 

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Novozymes crowdsources the future

Novozymes, the Danish leader in industrial enzymes and microbes is replacing old-style innovation management practices with their own style of ideation through crowdsourcing.

With more than 1000 R&D employees worldwide, their scientists were often unaware of complementary inventions produced elsewhere in the company. Idea generation tended to be siloed and stuck in a rut, time was wasted and staff creativity suppressed.

In 2011, the R&D management team set a priority: to speed up the process of new product development.

They recognised that an internal ideation campaign based on the concept of crowdsourcing could help to enhance both the quality and quantity of ideas. "It would encourage our scientists to develop brand-new products as well as to cross-pollinate their ideas with feedback and insight from other colleagues," explains Frank Hatzack, Head of Innovation Development at Novozymes.

The project was launched on a Nosco-based social platform, which they called COLIN. The name is the acronym for Collaboration (COL) and Innovation (IN). Run through a competition format, a number of staff could submit their suggestions for new products, but also take an active role in the screening process. Within a period of one month, the campaign fulfilled its goals, generating ideas within high-growth markets. "One of these represented a radical innovation that opened up an entirely new enzyme application."

Since then, Novozymes has extended the initiative to the rest of the organisation. They have been running the campaign on a monthly basis, each time with a new "internal small crowd" of about 150 employees. "So far, we have run 30 campaigns, involving employees across Europe, China, Japan, and the US. We have generated more than 2000 ideas and turned some of the best into commercial products, patents or new business strategies."


Managing front-end innovation

The campaign is structured in stages. At the outset, the organisation appoints the Screen Team, whose members are in charge of inviting selected participants to the dedicated group on COLIN. "The Screen Team selects the most informed employees and those who have been identified as having high innovative potential for that particular campaign."

To make the process democratic and transparent, the company posts an open letter on the intranet. "We give detailed information on the purpose, scope and process of the campaign. And, anyone who would like to give their feedback on the selected team's ideas can join."

To ensure maximum clarity they run three kick-off webinars, one for each major time zone in which staff operate.

Don't underestimate the power of the engaged crowd

Participants submit their proposals as well as comment on others’ inputs during a two-week period.

Once the conceiving stage is closed, the results are analysed. The Screen Team identifies the good ideas based on a set of criteria. "For example, the first R&D campaign looked at technical feasibility, originality, customer need, resources required to realise the idea, sales potential and competitive advantage."

At the same time, they take into account the "power of the engaged crowd," which means all the comments, likes, and critical feedback shared by others. "Comments require effort, time and attention. By offering their feedback on a colleague's idea, participants can provide with a rich form of information that may be overlooked by the Screen Team."

At the end of the process, the winning ideas are promoted to the maturation stage. 


Success factors

Hatzack cites a number of factors that contribute to the success of ideation collaboration.

1. "First, clear communication." The goal of each campaign and the criteria for evaluating ideas are communicated both before and during the campaign. They are also displayed alongside the ‘idea entry window’ on COLIN, so that employees are well aware of them as they enter the competition. "This openness and transparency of information has a positive impact on trust."

2. Gamification also helps to boost motivation. "We award the submitters of the five best ideas, as well as the most active commenters." Prizes are of symbolic value. They can be a bottle of wine, a voucher for dining out or toy animals. The real reward comes from the recognition given in front of the rest of the company. "We run an award ceremony at the end of each screening stage. We take pictures of the winners, upload them on the intranet and make colleagues famous to the rest of the organisation."


3. Another key element is to run the campaign with a relatively small group of employees each time, rather than involving the broader workforce all at once. "Online collaboration is a powerful tool for boosting idea generation in large enterprises. However, management may experience an overload of proposals from employees. Working with small crowds helps to overcome this challenge and achieve concrete business results. Plus, the motivational effect of being selectively invited stimulate staff to participate actively."

4. Variety in the pool of participants is another important element. "We call it optimum diversity. We are very careful at avoiding conformity by bringing in people with different perspectives and backgrounds. That's essential to innovation."

5. Finally, the possibility to comment: "Allowing employees to post comment increases the opportunity for feedback and helps colleagues to elaborate on their ideas."

Asked about the future, Hatzack's answer is "we'll continue using this approach to idea generation through the digital process we have put in place."

However, he emphasises: "that is not about the tool; it's about a collaborative culture open to innovation. We like discussing and sharing ideas, experimenting with them and learning. The platform is just the enabler."


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This article originally appeared on simply-communicate 

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Grant Thornton spreads internal collaboration with Jam

The name Jam may suggest a heavy metal group improvising onstage, but, at Grant Thornton UK LLP, it’s where over 4,000 partners and employees are making an altogether different type of music.

"We asked our colleagues to suggest the name for the platform; Jam resonated with the ideas of stickiness and people working together," explains Paul Thomas, Online Communications lead at the UK professional services firm.

Officially rolled out to the entire organisation in March, today Jam, which is based on Jive, has an adoption rate of 84%. Success of the new ESN is the result of much hard work. It all started with a soft launch to a smaller group of people to help build advocacy around the business benefits of the platform, before launching more widely to the whole firm.

Jam...a business sandbox for working out loud

Grant Thornton launched a new brand two years ago as part of its efforts to grow. Part of that brand is being dynamic and agile. Jam supports and encourages both.

"We were looking for an online environment where people could be bold, speak up and have engaging conversations with anyone in the firm, across all levels and locations. We wanted to see them collaborate, work out loud and talk openly about what they were doing."

"Jam gave us the platform to do just that."

Community Manager Katherine Carter pinpointed a number of initial use cases. These were identified in part to demonstrate how Jam could support key business projects in order to cement leadership buy-in and ensure that Jam wasn't mistaken for simply a social platform. From the beginning, she worked on understanding people's differing needs for getting involved with Jam and supported them in achieving their KPIs.

An example of this is Exceptional Connections, a year-long leadership development programme. "We populated Jam with all of the resources and materials for Exceptional Connections before participants attended the first in a series of workshops and invited them to this space. This helped them to consider and strengthen their development goals in advance of the meeting itself."

The ESN also became the place to go to for continuing conversations after the face-to-face events. "The group committed to work together towards generating new ideas, and still uses that community today."

Opening up the conversation

Another way to show how Jam has radically changed the relationship between offline and online communications is the annual Partners' Conference. Although highlights have historically been shared with employees after the event, Jam has enabled people to get involved real time. This year, the Partners' Conference team set up a dedicated group on Jam, called Partners' Conference Live. The community became the way for the rest of the firm to participate without being present. "During the event, we did live blogging, posted photos and even held panel discussions driven by questions asked by employees back in the office. The uptake was huge, with one discussion still taking place two months after the event and racking up more than 3,000 views, confirming that we had done well in breaking perceived organisational walls and increasing transparency around the meeting."

Despite some initial caution, the firm's leaders are also seeing the benefits of 'working out loud'.

"It was the Partners' Conference that made it all real," notices Carter. "The activity online was being commented on in the room and you could feel the connection. I think our partners were surprised at the level of interest by employees in what they were talking about," adds Thomas.

Calling all bloggers 

Today, one of the main ways people participate on Jam is through blogging, using their posts as a means to amplify their voice or share a message. Anyone can start a blog, creating their own content and publishing it on a dedicated area on the ESN. And all leadership blogs are visible on the homepage of Jam so that employees can easily find and read them. Not surprisingly, this is an area of the site with a lot of traffic.

Thomas points out how the phenomenon of leadership blogging has started to change the role of traditional internal communications. "Our CEO's blog has always been popular, and now everyone has the opportunity to say something in their own blog. With our leaders particularly, the opportunity for timely and authentic communication with their teams is being taken up and our people are asking for more with their comments, ratings and likes."

Champions... 

Getting people on board and supporting them in understanding the 'why' of Jam is challenging yet gratifying.

Enthusiasts like Thomas help people change their mind and behaviours. And sometimes they turn even the most sceptical of people into passionate users. "I do remember having a conversation with a partner last year about the platform and why it should be important to him. He wasn't at all interested. Today, this person is one of our most active bloggers, always talking with excitement about his next post."

Thomas believes that when people have the chance to take a step back and see what Jam actually enables them to do, a change of mind like this one becomes undeniable. "If you look at Jam on any given day, and the interactions taking place between people who may not otherwise cross paths, you want to be a part of that. Having figured out why it is important for themselves and their teams, many jump on the opportunity to get involved."

To maintain engagement with the platform, 75 advocates were recruited to show colleagues examples of how to use the tool, keep the interactions flowing, welcome new members and keep their profiles up to date.

...vs. Gatekeepers

But what does it mean to give everyone in your organisation a voice? "We are talking about disruptive technology. Jam is breaking down barriers and challenging existing processes and channels. It presents teams such as Communications and Marketing with new ways to communicate with the business and with each other. It also helps us listen better than ever before – better understanding of what's on people's minds, what's important to them and what they'd like to know more about. What that means for the evolution of our own roles, we haven't fully determined. It's exciting though. New skills such as community management, content curation and stronger peer-to-peer networking are all opportunities to be even more effective communicators."

While Paul understands that it can sometimes be hard for people to figure out how they will use Jam, he absolutely believes: “Jam can help enrich the work that we do and the relationships we build while doing it. Who wouldn't want to be part of that?"

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This article originally appeared on simply-communicate 

Sunday, 6 July 2014

The Nature Conservancy – CONNECTing a global organisation

"In the last 7 years we grew exponentially, becoming one of the world's largest environmental organisations with offices in 36 countries. We had a real need to tie all our employees' communications and activities together," says Blake Iba, CONNECT Product Manager at The Nature Conservancy.

In March 2012, they rolled out their new social intranet called CONNECT. The SharePoint 2010-based solution integrates with the enterprise social network (ESN) Newsgator - recently rebranded Sitrion.

Today, around 4,000 employees use the platform to share information and collaborate together. Fifty percent of them log in on a daily basis to view organizational news, engage with a community of practice or collaborate on projects and documents.

Embracing social

"We didn't know how much staff would embrace the social part of the new intranet. Previously, we just had a traditional portal for news, without room for two-way communications," comments Rachel Roberts, Associate Director of Internal Communications.

To build interest and understanding around the concept of working socially, the organisation started educating staff months in advance before launching CONNECT.

The training program began with videos showing how the platform could help staff do their jobs better. This was followed by a CONNECT World Tour where members of the CONNECT team reached out to about 100 different groups (either offices or functions) to give a 30-minute presentation. 

They talked about the idea of using social media at work, introduced the concept of online communities, and explained how to collaborate together on shared documents.

They also created the CONNECT Genius Bar and showcased what CONNECT could do at several conferences throughout the year and in different locations. The Genius Bar mimicked the Apple store concept, with a "big bar style" with laptops where staff could interact with CONNECT and really play with the new tool.

This heavy focus on training has been present also after the official launch. "We continue doing web conferencing, weekly educational sessions, and also contests around learning to search on the platform," stresses Roberts.

Building adoption...ask people what they need

Eighteen months after launching CONNECT, 40% of the staff were already using it. “Trying to understand what employees wanted from the platform before delivering it, was key in achieving this high level of engagement,” observes Iba.

For example, prior to designing the look and feel of the tool, the organisation did a series of focus groups. "One thing that stood out from the research was that people wanted to see the faces of their colleagues and have more information about them. Often, they were relating with peers from the other side of the world without an idea of what they looked like. Having the ability to put a face on a name would have had a huge impact on their working relationships."

On that basis, a major training component was focused on getting 90% of the staff to have a completed profile on CONNECT. "The fact that people could go on the platform, and search for colleagues around the world based on interests, expertise, departments and job area has been invaluable in gathering enthusiasm on CONNECT. And, highly beneficial: for any particular business reason, they could now find a colleague with the right information in a matter of minutes," says Iba.

Walking the talk through the Being Green community

CONNECT has been instrumental in engaging staff around organisational initiatives, including a sustainability initiative. The organisation wanted "to walk the talk" and "to be seen as a real model for being a green company," says Rachel Roberts.

Roberts was involved in growing Being Green, one of the most popular communities on the portal. The group, which started off as a fun conversation from a few employees, has became a huge initiative across the whole organisation. "Being in the field of conservation, we wanted to focus on sustainability. We invited our staff to talk about what they could do to be greener both at work and in their personal lives." Conversations cover energy, travel, pollution and the use of technologies to reduce the waste of resources such us paper.

Leadership's support played an important role in making Being Green successful. "Our executive team liked the idea of this community and took it to the next level."

Today, the organisation organises Being Green programs in parallel with the activities happening on CONNECT. "For example, we have developed Being Green meetings in the HQ in Colorado where we talk about implementing the learning," Iba explains.

As a result, not only have they united the global staff around a major organisational value, but they have also saved a lot of concrete costs.


When communities go on fire

Roberts believes CONNECT has encouraged employees to learn and manage their jobs in a more effective way. As an example, Conservancy staff who work on fire management projects created a very specific group, called the Fire Learning Network, to learn from each other the newest techniques for minimising the chance of burns, and to share best practice examples and resources. They also invite outside partners to join the conversation and suggest useful and applicable ways for controlling fires.

"Everyone in this community says how much value the Fire Learning Network has provided to them."

SharePoint 2013, the enabler of collaboration

Iba has come to think of CONNECT as the enabler of collaboration across The Nature Conservancy. This is partly is due to the social components added by Newsgator, which the Product Manager defines as "the plug-in laying on top of what SharePoint already has."

Newsgator enhances the social features already existing on SharePoint such as feeds, comments, posts and profiles. "For example it boosts the quality of the search when looking for expertise around communities. But there is a lot more that the ESN does from behind the scenes, including putting an activity stream on any work space."

When asked about the future, Iba's answer is a confident: "SharePoint 2013 - which we should have by February 2015 -- will help to make CONNECT an even more thriving go-to place for our employees."

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This article originally appeared on simply-communicate