Making the case for collaboration: Content and Code seminar

Earlier today I attended a Content and Code event at the Microsoft UK Customer Service centre called "Making the case for collaboration". The morning seminar was designed to help attendees understand the value of collaboration within an organisation and how SharePoint can help individuals collaborate with each other. The day started with an introduction to some of the challenges currently facing organisations, these include the following;

  • Information silos - these make information hard to find and share
  • Changing workplaces - today's workforces expect more and more individuals want to work remotely
  • Mergers & Acquisitions - companies are being bought and sold and internal teams are merging
  • Globalisation - organisations need to communicate globally, connect distributed teams and search across global content
  • Security issues - more people want to work from home and use different devices, these all mean more issues relating to security
  • Keeping up to date - organisations need to know what their employees are doing, with may organisations this can be difficult given the amount of information
  • Budgets - these are either being cut or remain stagnant

Another point that was made, which I thought was very interesting was that 80% of IT budgets are spent on keeping the lights on e.g. paying for licences, hardware etc. As a result there is very little to spend on improvements. So the question is how can collaboration/collaborative tools help. Content & Code listed 6 reasons where collaboration can help with these issues, they are:

  • More effective sharing of knowledge
  • More effective search tools
  • Better communication channels
  • Process consistency
  • Systems consolidation
  • Potential cost reductions

Content and Code then looked at how an organisations information landscape looks (lots of little silos) and how it could look (a great big mountain range). Whilst it's nice to think that every organisation could have a mountain range, it's important to recognise what it takes to get there and why you want to get there. This was the subject of the next session where the speaker look at at collaboration tools role to inspire, to inform and to evolved.

If it wasn't clear already it was reiterated that it was important to understand your business before you even think about implementing a collaborative tool. This means knowing the following:

  • Your organisations strategic goal and ensuring your tool is aligned with it
  • What other systems, tools and processes exist
  • What customers and suppliers your organisation is working with
  • What the expectations of your staff are

If you have an good understanding of these, then you're well on the way to delivering the foundations of a collaborative platform. 

Office 2013 and SharePoint 2013

The final session of the day was a very quick look at some of the new functionality in Office 2013 and SharePoint 2013. The release to manufacturing version of SharePoint was released the day before this seminar so we also got to see some of the new features live. They include the following:

SharePoint search

  • One search rather then a search for the free product and a search for the enterprise product
  • An improved UI
  • Consolidation of content
  • Better query rules
  • Better result sources
  • Content organised by search

SharePoint communities (Discussion forums)

  • An improved UI
  • Badges feature
  • More like forums then previously
  • A reputation builder so if you don't post something for 6 months your reputation decreases

SharePoint social

  • Improved MySites
  • Your newsfeed
  • Site newsfeed
  • Rich content
  • Likes and hashtags
  • Unlike SharePoint 2010 you have to turn on MySites in SharePoint 2013

SharePoint Apps

  • A new development model for SharePoint 2013
  • Apps now leveraged in the cloud
  • Sell your Apps now an option
  • Option to add apps to your SharePoint platform
  • Significantly everything is an App!

Overall this was a really interesting if intense morning. For anyone already using SharePoint the 2013 version looks to be even bigger and better.