I have written about NewsGator on a number of occasions (see for example: NewsGator Enhances its Social Sites 2010 Platform for SharePoint). I recently spoke with their new CEO, Daniel Kraft, as well as Stefanie Lightman who runs marketing and corporate strategy. NewsGator is a long time Microsoft partner for enterprise social on SharePoint with millions of active users of its Social Sites offering. Now it is moving beyond SharePoint to reach other work processes. To set the foundation for this new strategy they interviewed hundreds of customers and dozens of senior execs.
When asked how can NewsGator make social more useful, they were told to integrate it into work processes. This was already happening for some work with their SharePoint integration. SharePoint is not really social software but a system of record, in this case, documents. NewsGator provides a system of engagement to go with this system of record and make it really social.
Now they are expanding beyond SharePoint to other systems of record that tie in with an expanded sets of business process. NewsGator is preparing to create an even more robust social platform that taps the entire Microsoft ecosystem, as well as other enterprise-spanning applications. So they are now connected with such systems as: CRM, ERP, and HR through such products as SAP, Oracle, Salesforce, and MS Dynamics. This is a wise move and one I have written about before (see for example: Putting Social Media to Work and Giving Social Media a Good Job). Here is a sample Social Sites interface.
Daniel mentioned that transactions systems such as SAP work fine as long as the answer to a process action is: yes or no. It is the exception handling that can bring productivity to its knees. This is where social can provide a huge productivity boast. If you take an exception into the social space, collaboration can be more efficient. More importantly, you have a record of the issue and the solution. This can be both reused to reduce the pain next time. More Importantly, it also serves as a diagnostic for where changes need to be made in work processes or peak demands anticipated. Below you can see a sample workflow request.
Social Sites can work with the enterprise apps in two ways. First, you can bring a transaction into Social Sites and work in this environment. You can also have a Social Sites activity stream appear as a notification bar within an enterprise app such as SAP.
Social Sites also works to support the individual worker who faces the huge increase in incoming content. They offer intelligent filters to help determine what is really important. People have different personas depending on which projects they are working on or even the where they are in a business quarter. For example, as Daniel mentioned, a sales person will be taking a board view of the market for potential prospects at the beginning of the quarter and then zero in on a few highly qualified prospects as the quarter comes to a close. Here is a sample sale enablement screen.
NewsGator has also greatly expanded their mobile offerings to bring in all the social capabilities. Now an employee can do all their processing on their smart phone or tablet and not even have to deal with a traditional computer. See below for a sample mobile screen shot.
Getting employees to make productive use of the social capabilities requires more than installing software. The real benefits come when it impacts work processes. This requires changes in the way work is done. NewsGator also worked with their customers to create an adoption framework that they offer on an Open Source basis. It covers people engagement, business alignment and technology enablement.
These are all great moves and I can certainly see why Social Sites is meeting new success. McKinsey has predicted huge productivity boosts from the connected enterprise. Social Sites is certainly a way to realize these projected gains.