Do You Have Social Amnesia?

On May 7, 2013, in Insights, by Kirk Puffenberger

“Social amnesia” is a malady that faces many enterprises as they bring on new social software solutions and forget existing content. Microsoft veteran Kirk Puffenberger describes the symptoms and a proposed cure.



While this metaphor is somewhat tongue and cheek, I find that it is a good characterization of how some companies tend to embark on developing a social initiative that treats social knowledge as separate and independent from existing organizational knowledge typically found in SharePoint.

Having worked with both SharePoint and one of the leading social solutions, Jive Software, I’d like to share some observations about how you can recognize the symptoms and avoid the consequences of social amnesia.

As a 15+ year veteran of Microsoft, I have seen the evolution and growth of SharePoint, one of Microsoft’s most successful products ever. 

Not only was it embraced by our customers, but Microsoft was itself a heavy user of the platform.  But while SharePoint was good at a number of things, social was not its strong suit.

A couple of years ago I joined ThreeWill, a company that is an avid user of both SharePoint and Jive Software.  And even with my natural bias for SharePoint that I acquired over my years at Microsoft, I can honestly say that I was totally impressed by how Jive approaches the social needs of an organization.

engagingWhen asked to compare the difference between SharePoint and Jive, I can summarize it in a single word –  engaging. 

While SharePoint has a number of features and continues to evolve “socially”, it has  never really been embraced for its social charisma.  Jive on the other hand is truly engaging and entices your participation in social activities.

While at Microsoft I found the internal SharePoint sites to be a fantastic resource for any information I might need.  You could go to product group sites, competitive info sites, sales programs, internal employee programs, and find more useful content than you could ever imagine.  This content ranged from individual contributions to highly polished official content ready for customers or partners.  However, what it didn’t really offer was the type of environment that pulled you into the world of social collaboration.

Enter Jive.  The Jive experience is one that draws users into the social online community. 

Here at ThreeWill our Jive community is called “Cafe ThreeWill” and it has become the default “go-to” location on our intranet.  You can still go to SharePoint but you’ll find that most everyone will hang out in the Cafe.  Similar to the SharePoint world you’ll find Jive “Places” that cover the breadth of corporate topics as well as employee personal interests.

You can also find important documents such as the “Employee Benefits Handbook” or the latest sales collateral.  But in addition to just finding important documents, there is a wealth of information provided through the informal collaboration around the content (see Jive Software social capabilities).

unimpressedSo if Jive is all that, then why would I ever go back to SharePoint? 

Well, here’s the rub. 

While Jive is a great place to take advantage of the informal social knowledge within your company, I have found that it really isn’t a replacement for enterprise content management.

For example, if I am in an industry that requires strong compliance and records retention, Jive falls short while SharePoint excels.

One of the most common use-cases we’ve seen is the need to create “official” documentation in SharePoint and then “publish” this documentation to Jive for social consumption. 

One customer, BMC Software, has an external facing Jive Community to serve it’s partner channel.  BMC creates documents that go through a formal workflow on their internal SharePoint system and as part of the workflow the approved content is published to the Jive community.  By doing this, BMC is able to maintain good corporate governance over important information but still have all the advantages of the social experience provided by Jive.

If you have a use case similar to this, ask us about our next release of Pointer.  This new version of our Jive-SharePoint connector will be optimized for this specific use-case.

As you continue to explore your social strategy, beware of social amnesia!  Jump on the social band wagon but don’t leave your SharePoint content behind.  

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dannyryan moderator

@captnpuff  - great post.  You mention the use case of publishing SharePoint docs to Jive is the most popular use case.  Is there a use case that is a close second?