In my last post, I explained how Cim enables you to create many different social business applications for your SharePoint 2010 environment. I ended with a scenario of how we bring it all together to provide end-users with a single user experience across all of these applications. The key enabler is the new Cim Activity Stream. In this article, I’ll drill deeper into it to explore why and how it works to drive user engagement.
The Need for User Engagement – Power to Drive Business Value
Cim is social business software (SBS). You use it to create applications. However, the types of applications are a new breed. They are targeted at a much broader group of users, they are more collaborative, and they are usually distributed across the entire landscape of your SharePoint environment and beyond. The objective with SBS is to have apps that are the mechanism of business value, yet, to engage a much broader set of users that are the power that drives the business value. At the end of the day, you don’t get far without engaging the user. This is particularly true with this breed of enterprise app.
So, how well are most of us doing that today…
Engage the User: Meet Kim White
Whenever I speak with customers the conversation is focused on the application, the process, the use that will drive value. This is understandable; it is how we’ve been trained to think. As an industry we tend to think about the user interface of the app. Usually, we do not think about the user experience across all of the apps.
Meet Kim White. She is a Product Manager that I talk about in my presentations. The organization needs her engaged in many different activities. She also wants to engage in other activities to contribute her best. Below we show a schematic of some of the activities she would like to engage in.
In a typical organization, how does it work for her? Maybe she has access to a bunch of SharePoint portal sites, team sites, and project sites. She has to remember URLs and go everywhere to get work done. To find out what is up, she has to remember to check. She has to check multiple “data typed” lists and libraries – and that is just one site. Or, maybe she can use email and look for the needles of value amongst the “noise”. Further, the organization has gotten smart and now has an array of SAAS apps that she has to also log into separately and check out. Then, there are the other really fun enterprise apps she gets to use.
This is typical. From an end-user perspective, it is not pleasant. In truth, as organizations we just don’t make it easy and convenient for users to effectively and efficiently engage. We have few established, structured “channels” for this engagement. Users usually don’t even know what channel to use to engage. Where do I contribute an idea to improve a process? Do I email it to “All Employees”? How would I get help to solve a technical challenge? How do I log this change request from a customer before I forget? Where can I get some great stories from customers to use in my marketing decks? We lack channels for engagement, and, we lack a simple, convenient user experience to use engage through these channels.
With Cim v2.1 on SharePoint 2010, the user experience of your workplace is different – and much better. The key new feature is the Cim Activity Stream and how we have tied it into all of the Cim social business applications that you can deploy across your environment.
Cim Activity Stream
Let’s just change our perspective. Imagine that your organization will have lots of social business apps that serve as the channels for your users to drive and derive business value. They will have collaborative information resources, communities of practice and purpose, idea communities and challenges, business processes, and services. But, let’s set a new rule – we are only allowed a single user interface for users to use to contribute, collaborate, and engage in activity across all of the apps.
The Cim My Activity Stream is a feature that you can deploy in any SharePoint site. When a user goes there, they see all of the activity that is relevant to them. They can contribute, comment, and collaborate, right from there. They can see the history of what they have done across all of the communities/apps. They can see what others have done on items that they created or that they “watched”. They can see a listing of communities and watch them. When new communities/apps are deployed across your environment, they just light up for the user to choose whether to watch them.
In sum, the Cim Activity Stream is their gateway to your collaborative workplace.
Below is a screenshot of the Activity Stream deployed in a Department Portal. If this is where the user tends to work, viola, there is there Activity Stream, at their fingertips. This is our default configuration and shows the Community Listing on the left. On the right is the My Activity Stream snaplet. It has three sections: My Stream (what others have done), My Activity (what I have done), and My Watch List (what communities and items I am watching).
So, working from here Kim White has all of your resources and activities at her fingertips. She can choose what to watch and what to engage in. She can throttle the level of activity. She can contribute as she chooses. As people do work, she sees the activity and responds. From this one place, she has a single way of engaging in all of the activities that she needs to engage in or that she wants to engage in.
For Kim White, and, each of your many, valuable employees itching to contribute and engage – life is good.