Microsoft = Facebook for the Enterprise

The nation’s fourth largest bank will roll out a social networking service for 110,000 employees over the next several months, giving workers a sophisticated knowledge-management platform that combines the user-friendly approach of the popular Facebook service with broad integration into Wachovia Corp.’s business applications.

Joining Newsgator meant immersing myself in Microsoft products as the company is heavily invested in them. In fact, it was one of the aspects that attracted me, I’d done open source for years and thought it would be a good challenge to learn the Microsoft stuff. I have not been disappointed.

On of the pleasant surprises I had as I was busy drinking from the firehose over the last week is how complete Sharepoint 2007 is. I will post more about Newsgator’s Social Sites product, which is built on top of Sharepoint in a later post as I am still learning the ins-and-outs of this new product. At any rate, Sharepoint has impressed me.

Microsoft has some massive implementations and, of course, much of that is possible because they have an integrated approach to the other components that make large deployments feasible, like Active Directory and administration infrastructure.

The idea that Microsoft could be the "Facebook of the enterprise" requires a degree of imagination but it’s not unreasonable to suggest that knocking down big deals like the one highlighted above will position the company as one of the largest social networking providers out there.

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More on Contacts

I have continued to have a good experience with Plaxo, in fact I up’ed to the premium subscription for $50 a year just to get the “de-duping” utility.

Microsoft Entourage and Apple’s Address Book sync’ed and apparently thought it would be a good idea to duplicate every contact in my address book, and when I threw in my desktop iMac, well I had 3 of every contact. The prospect of culling through almost 10,000 contacts to eliminate 2/3 of them was downright depressing.

Plaxo has this neat de-duping utility that made quick work of the job, and as a bonus, found 324 contacts that could be merged to be more complete. It worked perfectly and because the toolbar app syncs to the online service I was able to synchronize my address book across two computers and two separate applications.

My Apple Address Book (for those of you that don’t speak Mac, you really want to use the provided PIM applications like iCal and Address Book because they integrate so well with Cocoa apps) and Microsoft Entourage also sync and that means my address book is always in sync (including my new iPhone) and I have a copy online as well as a backup copy courtesy of Plaxo.

I can’t tell you how pleased I am about this because for years I have been plagued with mismatched contact data on the various computers I used and my mobile devices. Really, it’s been in my top 5 problems for at least the last 10 years and now it’s solved. A great example of how doing something simple really well and doing it for, in this case, less than the cost of 1 grande latte a month, can make a big fan out of a customer.

So I went over to Gmail and decided to export the contact list that has been building up there for a while… I was really surprised to see that my Gmail contacts now number over 2,100 and judging from how many times I search gmail for a contact I am quite positive a lot of them are not in my address book. I’ve felt for a long time that contacts in Gmail is a seriously killer app, it’s surprising that Google hasn’t delivered even a basic contacts management service. I’m not the only person interested in this…

BTW, here’s a great script for running a search on your Gmail contacts from the Mac Address Book.

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