Microsoft and Facebook, SharePoint and Social Networking

This article was originally posted on October 25, 2007.

Microsoft’s announcement of their buying a stake in Facebook is not a surprise (kind of a yawner, actually), given the rumors that have been swirling about such a relationship for a few months now. It’s been interesting to see many of the MSFT bloggers and other contacts with whom I interact creating Facebook sites.

Also interesting to watch will be how MSFT leverages this relationship to build better tools for fostering social networking within business organizations. Hopefully, the deeper Facebook relationship produces not just eyeballs, traffic, advertising revenues, etc., but also an infusion of new ideas into MSFT to enhance the teams and the tools already present. The SharePoint team is in the process of writing an excellent whitepaper about social networks for business use, which gives me some comfort that these issues are being thought and talked about, and acted on, by Microsoft. (Where have you gone, Knowledge Network?)

As we tell customers all the time: the next generation of people entering the workforce is not going to know a world without tools like these. Even if you work in a highly structured, highly regulated, or traditionally conservative enironment and giving your employees a platform for self-expression is not a priority for you, there are many compelling business cases for business use of social networking tools, both internally within your organization, and externally in customer-facing applications that you should explore and be aware of. Paul Gillin’s book does a fairly exhaustive job of describing these business cases, and there is an enormous amount of information about this on the Net as well. As Lee Iacocca said in simpler times: “Lead, follow, or get out of the way.”

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Project management, financial management, and knowledge management. Microsoft 365 aficionado, proud Sympraxian. Opinions and Philly attytood are my own.