MOSS Versus WSS for Social Networking

A common theme in many of the sales calls we go on in our consulting business are questions about the differences between WSS and MOSS. One that I think is very important, but that people seldom ask me about are the ‘people management’ features.

In many organizations, the first version of SharePoint that someone installs is Windows SharePoint Services. It arrives in workgroups or departments when someone installs it on a server with the help of, but often under the radar of, corporate IT. Team members use WSS and like it. They show it to their peers who install it servers in their own departments. Soon, management notices and decides to roll out an enterprise portal using Microsoft Office SharePoint Server.

If the portal implementation team does an adequate job, the portal will make things manageable from an IT governance standpoint. Users will be able to find information across team sites thanks to a unified search infrastructure. The implementation might even include some interesting custom functionality that is specific to the business.

However, if the portal implementation team does a good job, the new portal will encourage collaboration in ways that lots of individual WSS servers cannot – across organizational boundaries by connecting people with other people that they likely would never have come into contact with previously. In other words, a well designed MOSS portal can facilitate social networking in the enterprise by helping people find other people who have common interests, possess needed expertise, or are just friends of friends.

MOSS makes enterprise social networking possible thanks to User Profiles, My Sites, and People Search.

You can read an overview here: Personalizing Your Portal: Overview – http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms548160.aspx.

I think it is interesting that the MSDN Library discusses these topics under the heading of "Personalizing Your Portal". I think these features are important because they let potential collaborators advertise themselves to each other. Maybe that sounds a bit impersonal. How about match-making for lonely workers?