How’s the ESN heartbeat in your company?

I was recently reading the ViewDo Labs blog and came across John Puopolo’s post where he’s reaching out to the community… Tap Tap Tap is this thing on.  I really saw it a bit as a doctor wanting to put the stethoscope out there to check the pulse…  I want to address his questions, but also give some background on how important engagement is.  You can’t just ask for it… The passion comes from the heart of the community that’s being built… it’s so much about momentum and passion and then the technology just needs to get out of the way.

In his intro he questions… “few of us are engaging in a meaningful way.

In any community there’s an evolution.  In the beginning it’s few few people carrying the burden of producing compelling content, but as everyone gets more comfortable things change.  Now the stage is not just for the few, but for everyone.  There will always be lurkers.  On top of that there are many communities that are created, but there is no heart beat, no life.  On the other hand there are communities of all sizes that very much have a pulse with a healthy beating heart.  Who forms that inner circle that help create cohesiveness really really matter.  Let me pick on one of my favorite communities… SPYAM.  The Yammer network for the SharePoint, Office 365 and Yammer communities.  It’s got great gravity and has great engagement based on my experience.  The network nearly has 5000 members and great participation.  Let me break it down for you.

Here are a few of my favorite messages posted and self selected by number of replies…


This illustrates these conversations bring in a lot of different perspectives and participation.  They start with a question and those in the network chime in.  The network has steadily grown for over the past year and a half.  Conversations and driven by the community.


  • Does your company offer an ESN?


  • Who champions the ESN in your company?

Traditionally I see it mostly as Marketing and Sales, (sometimes IT, but often they are also detractors) but there are distinct ambassadors that really have taken to it.  So it is definitely individuals, but certain departments more than others.

  • Do the executives use it to communicate effectively?

They are experimenting

  • Is there a formal initiative in your company around enterprise social networking?

Semi formal.  I never hear goals, but I do hear encouragement for incorporating it into our culture.

  • What types of business decisions do you or your company hope to make based on ESN usage?

Speed of information.  Answering questions that don’t fit in existing processes.  Sharing news.  Status updates.

  • If your company offers an ESN, do you engage, actively, every day? If so, please share your story! If not, why not?

I think they expectation is that the individuals will set the pace, with notification integration, the engagement will grow.

  • Are you working on a project where the ESN fosters collaboration? Is it effective? Why or why not?

Yes.  Yammer helps us communicate and builds on what gets lost in email.  The project team helps decide what should live in yammer… it really helps for retention and helps for ramp up for new team members.

  • Is it “just easier” to use email? Is the ESN “just another” system to keep track of and “deal with?” or do you see benefits?

The benefits are there.  In the beginning it can feel like just another collaboration or communication system, but the energy of the community and the knowledge that gets shared there is what makes the difference.  Email suffers with a lot of weakness of conversations being lost, and really security is becoming a bigger and bigger problem with the status quo of email.

  • Do you believe that if everyone used the ESN to maximum effect that your company would experience positive outcomes more frequently?

Yes, I believe it would speed up the information flow and all individuals who have another way to tap into the collective mind of the company.  What better way is there to engage over distance?

Merry Christmas SharePoint DC

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays #DCLights

I hope you and your family are having a great time together.  This time of year in the United States and much of the Western world is Christmas, Hanukah, and is a season of spending time with family and friends.  This year I got the opportunity to gather the SharePoint Community influencers in the DC Area and with the help of ViewDo Labs, we were able to gather for dinner and tour the National Zoo lights, the Capital lights and National Christmas tree.

From my home to yours… May your home be filled with PEACE, HOPE and LOVE this Holiday Season!




National Zoo Lights


Our Christmas Sleigh!  Thanks ViewDo Labs!


Erbil Iraqi Kurdistan

SharePoint in Iraq? Community Building in Iraqi Kurdistan

In my research on building community and travel, I found that I could get a visa on arrival to Kurdish territory in northern Iraq.  When I chatted with Michael about this idea, we agreed we needed to be careful about how we promoted this event.  We needed to work on building participation through social channels, but without the normal openness of our previous events in building IT communities.  We reached out to Jim Bob Howard, the friendliest guy online you’d ever meet.  He is an awesome networker.  He has a great approach at contacting people in a way that is inviting and un-invasive.  He is an expert connector… you have to read his experience with getting Nairobi SharePoint Saturday to happen and the craziness that happened on the Miracle of the second SharePoint Saturday in Nairobi.  You need to read his blog about Nairobi to understand how divine intervention plays into all of this connecting.  It does.  I’m 100% sure that we aren’t alone in our pursuits.  Connecting people around the world has changed lives and will continue to.

In the searches performed, we had many that simply fell on the floor, but then we had a few breakthroughs and finally found the one contact with a connection at the University of Human Development  (UHD) in Sulimanie, Kurdistan.  While this wasn’t Erbil our intended destination, it looked like an incredible opportunity that would meet all our goals. We were cautious about any travel we’d be doing and wanted to make sure we were traveling through Kurdish controlled areas for our own safety.


Erbil (Also referred to as Irbil or Arbil) is an ancient Assyrian city from the 5th millenium BC.  7000 years old or even older.  The citidel that sits atop the hill is one of the longest continuously inhabited city in the world.

Citadel Iraq


Ako Jafaar organized a meeting for us to meet the faculty and students in the computer science department at UHD.  Our normal SharePoint presentations weren’t going to fit the needs of the students, so I took a modified copy of my recent presentation on Finding Business Value in Social Media with the intention of helping the students understand the new market of employment around the needs around cloud services, development in enterprise social, and how to “sell” enterprise social networks with emphasis on “engaging” employees and armed them with dozens of thoughts around business value.




The questions we got were quite fascinating.  Some asked about cultural challenges of hierarchy and concerns over the empowerment of employees.  Others brought up thoughts around open platforms and open source development in and around concerns over Microsoft’s proprietary SharePoint and yammer platforms.  We then talked about sales around services and the open APIs that could be developed against.  It was obvious that there were some Google and Linux fans in the crowd of 70 or so faculty and students.  Discussions around Google Drive and the contrast of consumer services with enterprise platforms was discussed around the topic of security.


After the sessions, we talked with the Dean of the school who was impressed with the topics discussed and the engagement with the students and faculty.  He invited us to present to the entire school on the following day, but unfortunately our schedule wouldn’t support that.  We were flattered by the offer and agreed “next time” was the right answer and appreciated the open invitation that was extended.

We had dinner with an associate professor from the school.  Interesting menu.



We were able to have some local kurdish foods and talk more about living as a Kurd.  I couldn’t believe how every person we met was affected by the genocide committed by Saddam Husseins army.  It wasn’t distant relatives either.  When we first arrived in Sulimenia our taxi driver asked us where we wanted to go.  We looked at Virtual Tourist, one of my favorites for recommendations on crowd sourced Top places to go in most cities around the world.  One of the suggestions was the second largest museum in Iraq.  Closed.  The next suggestion was of a prison turned museum.  THE Infamous Prison… Amna Saraka.




This prison was infamous for the torture that went on there.  It has become the thing that foreigners talk about when visiting Iraqi-Kurdistan.

There are amazing things to see in the Kurdish region, the history of this place is amazing.  The world’s Abrahamic religions all appear to have roots here. Old testament prophets Daniel and Jonah are both buried in Kurdistan.  The people were really quite open… we made some great friends.  I’d love to go back.



In the end, we did meet some faculty who had supported SharePoint and were very anxious to learn more, but both Michael Noel and I were more than satisfied with the people we met and the experiences we had.  We made some friends and the region really made an impression on our minds.  Next time I hear about the Kurds, I will think about my friends.

SharePoint Days Slovenia 2013 Recap and Download Slides

Just finished up my sessions at SharePoint Days Slovenia and had an incredible time here with the people of the Balkans.


Pictured Above: Zlatan, Joel (me) and Branka the conference organizer, at one of beautiful lakes of Slovenia.  


Above: Packed Keynote in Slovenia held in a resort area called Terme Olimia known for its hot springs and spas. 

This hot springs resort is essentially a group of hotels connected through underground tunnels to health spas and even an underground night club.  I’ve never been at a hot springs that had over a dozen different steam rooms, hot tubs, saunas, at different scents, temperatures, and cultural settings such as music, seating arrangements and wood to tile, to reclining and even stars on the ceiling.  Incredibly relaxing.  I definitely took advantage of getting to know some of the other speakers. This two day event was a great business retreat with a strong focus on SharePoint, Yammer, Office 365 and Azure.









Slovenian Speaker Dinner.  Speakers from Sweden, LA, Bosnia & Herz., Croatia, Bulgaria, Switzerland, Slovenia and more…

I did a keynote session on Finding Business Value in Enterprise Social Networking.  Essentially I built a business case around engagement a concept built around an annual poll that on engagement that Gallup does.  They recently released their 2013 world wide report and found that only 13% of the world is engaged.  The numbers are higher in Slovenia, but still a long way… which means huge opportunity to transform the business. You can view or download my slides on “Business Value in Enterprise Social” from SlideShare.net I had a break out session on The New Enhancements in SharePoint 2013 around Video and the Asset Library including the HTML5 player, the Silverlight streaming player, and many features including embedding video from youtube and embedding your SharePoint videos on other sites.  I think we had more than half of the session in demo.  Those slides on Video and SharePoint 2013 are here. With people from mostly from Slovenia, but also some surrounding area.  This area is well served with a rich community. I had incredible time in this most beautiful region of the world.  You really do get the best of the old world castles, churches and history and nature with lakes, mountains, falls, and caves.


Speakers gather for a final picture before the event closes down.

This cave system we toured with a few of the speakers.  It’s 25+ KM of caves, 2KM train ride plus 2KM walk.  It’s been visited by over 35 million visitors since it opened.  It’s one of the best I’ve ever seen in the 30 plus caves I’ve explored.
















If you missed the Slovenia event, it will be back next year, or in less than 2 weeks the SharePoint Adriatics event is happening in Zagreb, Croatia. I spoke at this amazing event last year. Downloads: Finding Business Value in Enterprise Social (Yammer) What’s New in SharePoint 2013 Video and Digital Enhancements and Asset Library


Thank You! Listed in the Top 50 SharePoint Sites


This blog as SharePointJoel.com now called CollabShow.com was recently recognized as a Top 50 SharePoint blog by Dynamics 101 (at the top of the list :)).  I appreciate the recognition. Top 50 SharePoint BlogsGreat to be recognized among those on this list.  As I look at this… I’m realizing it would be good to have the same thing for yammer.  Maybe I need to put together a Top 50 Yammer blogs or Top 50 Social Business or Enterprise Social Networking blogs. What do you think?


You can see the full list of Top 50 SharePoint blogs at Dynamics 101.

Sharing The Point – Ecuador and STP Tour Wrap up

Another passionate group that’s ready to launch a user group and was excited to be visited by the Sharing the Point crew.  We made our way into the middle of the world in Quito Ecuador which is right near the equator.  In fact following the event Michael Noel and I made our way out to 0,0,0 latitude.

Equator in Ecuador

We had a great group that joined us.  Nearly 70 signed up to join us.   We had two folks on the ground who helped us arrange the facilities from afar.  We ended up at the UDLA -University de las Americas


Thanks to the locals who helped us get this off the ground.  Santiago did a lot to help promote the event and in sharing the event far and wide.


Ivan worked with the University, and joined us for lunch following the event.  He helped us with the local sponsorship.

Ecuador Quito SharePoint User Group

A great group assembled together and many are interested in putting together something longer term.


SharePoint Sessions in Quito…

A Series of Blogs written by Ned


The Sharing The Point Tour Northern South America


Where do we go from here? 

Mini events as part of bigger trips… As part of our visit to the Iberian SharePoint Conference in October, we are planning on visiting Algeria and Malta. 

Demand for an event in Algiers and Malta has exploded.  We have already over 30 waiting to hear how these events will come together.

Plans to return to Africa in Nigeria, Ghana and more in November…

We are looking for partners that are interested in aligning with our efforts. (contact joel.oleson@gmail.com for more info including a variety of web sponsors. )  All of our events are designed around building community and connecting those disconnected with the greater SharePoint Community.

Sharing The Point Colombia – Strong Community in South America

It started with a challenge getting out of Caracas.  After multiple flight delays we finally got on our flight to find that our plane would not be stopping in Bogota.  After some drama on the plane we got transferred to another flight on a competing airline.  Hint: Michael Noel is an expert negotiator and when combined with my bartering skills we make a great team. Within an hour we were on a competing flight to Bogota. TAME the company that decided they were going to cancel our flight and bump all of the Bogota passengers was more like “LAME.”  They wanted to put us on a flight the next day at the same time which would totally miss our Bogota event. 

The amazing thing that really turned around our night was meeting up with Andres and the welcoming committee when we landed.  It really was a breath of fresh air.  Bogota was beautiful and we felt extremely welcome.


To join the ShareCol.com Community – Go to http://sharecol.com and click

The only community where we met up with SharePoint folks at the airport, was in Bogota.  Andres pulled together a real welcome committee which took us to our hotel, the venue, and then took us to an amazing colorful local world famous restaurant.


The community is very strong in Bogota.  I was quite surprised when I first started doing research on contacts and who to work with to pull off the series of events across Northern South America.  Communidad SharePoint Colombia recently had a 16 speaker SharePoint event with 2 tracks.  It was great to get connected with such a strong community with real leadership that has strong influence in the LATAM and Hispanic SharePoint Community.


Despite some awful logistics problems with the address of the event on EventBrite.com (a google maps bug?) we still had a good showing of attendees at Sharing The Point Bogota.  We had over 120 register for the event.   Andres and I are wearing the cool V Neck ShareCol.com T-shirts with a nice big Sharing The Point logo on back.

Sessions in Bogota…

SharePoint 2013 and the Mobile Enterprise Revolution

Joel Oleson

Ultimate SharePoint Infrastructure Best Practices

Michael Noel

Social Architecture of SharePoint for Developers

Paul Swider

The STP Tour Continues…

Sharing The Point Kickoff – in Trinidad

Sharing The Point Guyana meetup in Georgetown

Sharing The Point Venezuela in Caracas “Uncovered Passion”

Sharing The Point Colombia in Bogota “Strong Community in South America” 

Sharing The Point Ecuador in Quito