A big part of my job involves describing and demonstrating features of new and existing products, and explaining to people how those features might be used to make their users more productive. In April we announced a new product called User Generated InfoSites that has changed the way I go about this somewhat. I’ve demonstrated this dozens of times, and now, rather than doing what I would normally do and describing potential use cases, I simply describe the functionality and the audience comes up with their own use cases– I don’t have to tell them how this will make them more productive, they tell me.
What I’ve learned to do show what InfoSites can do and then let the audience describe to each other how it applies to their users. Some examples I’ve heard:
- General Purpose:
- General intranet content. This is probably the one I hear most often in the context of generic search as well as InfoSites. An InfoSite could be used to surface the content that everyone in an organization might want: holiday schedules, cafeteria menus, things like that.
- HR Content. Create an InfoSite for policies and procedures, and other HR-related content. There could be multiple InfoSites for different geographies or departments.
- Legal: This is a natural fit. InfoSites could be used to consolidate content by Practice Area within a firm – and could be related to one another to form a logical content hierarchy. Similarly, an InfoSite could be used to bring together all content related to a Client or Matter.
- Oil & Gas: A common challenge we hear is the ability to see all information related to a Well, Field, or Lease in a single place. This information is typically stored in multiple systems, forcing users to look in many places to find what they need. The content hierarchy created by Related InfoSites can be of use here as well.
- Technology: There are multiple use cases I’ve heard here, such as new product development / release (security matters a lot with this one), support for complex products (looking for commonality when issues arise), and responses to RFI’s or RFP’s.
- User generated. Most of the conversations we have regarding products are with IT, so it’s been a little surprising to me how much this aspect of InfoSites resonated. The idea that users can create and manage their own collections of content when they need them, and within the established security framework is the key here. Users get what they want without waiting in a request queue, and IT is sure it’s safe.
- Location independent. We talk about InfoSites as being a way to organize content based on “what it is, not where it is”, and this resonates with people. Users can create logical sets of content by simply executing a search, and leverage the BA Insight Connectivity software to allow for content from multiple sources to be seen as a single logical collection.
- Subscription / notification. This is frequently the point that brings InfoSites into the discussion. The first question is about Saved Searches, which we can accomplish in a couple of ways. The logical extension of that is, “can you share saved searches with other users?”, and then “how do users know when the content their saved searches find changes?”.
- External content. InfoSites can be based on RSS feeds as well as searches, which means that content from external sites can be easily brought into play in SharePoint (again, without IT involvement).
I’m looking forward to seeing what new uses arise for InfoSites in the coming months.