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In social networking applications it's pretty obvious that the profile page tells others who a user are, and what her views are. That's how Facebook originally started its service: a users wall. When it was changed to a common flow there where protests (as always when there is a change).

But what about your work? At the corporate intranet there is usually a space where users can present themselves, store their files and keep track of tasks. In Microsoft Office 365 this is devided between OneDrive for Business and Delve. But the question is why it exist? Is there a need for a profile page (app) at work? Or is it there just because companies want a more "social networking" environment? Is it driven by user needs or company goals?

Delve - activity

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Delve - profile

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But the question is why it exist?

Because it's a "feature" and the sales people can put that "feature" in front of a big bullet point and put it on a powerpoint slide. And then they can sell this product to your management because hey, look at this cool "feature".

In other words, it's pure marketing.

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To me, it is more about consistency. Nowadays, it is very common that most of the web apps (even if it is in-house), that user create an account, has a profile page. Despite it is not necessary to have a profile image, it may be helpful for a new team members in company!

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I hope the profile page which you are talking about contains more than the email id, extension number. If yes, I think the profile page will help in the following ways:

  • Know more about your colleagues and their skills
  • Know about the other employees with whom you interact for various projects

This is a tool to know their skill sets, their professional experience. Employee interaction might be a company goal. But learning from peers is an employee goal. The person who built it might know the actual reason why it was built. The use cases sometimes can open up many new avenues (and features in the profile page).

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Profiles can be professional too

It certainly grew out of the social web, but it has a place at work too. I've experimented with this a bit in Atlassian's Confluence, and in a team phpBB a few years ago. In that latter instance, it really caught on. I think newer tools would make it much more powerful.

I see several distinct profiles that concern organizational information sharing:

  1. Corporate
  2. Department
  3. Team
  4. Working/Project group
  5. Local chat
  6. Individual

By supporting that last point, Microsoft is doing more than tossing fuel on the marketing fire — they are recognizing the value of open individual knowledge sharing.

Granted we're talking about the nerdy details of a subject matter expert's daily explorations. Nerdy though they may be, those details may shed light on topics others can do something with as well. And why wouldn't MS provide the ability to support it.

You could use a catch-all Slack channel for that kind of thing (#general, #random, etc), but Microsoft would probably like to have a recommendation other than "go use some other guy's solution". And doesn't it make sense for MS to have a comprehensive solution that traverses the hierarchy of info?

  • "they are recognizing the value of open individual knowledge sharing" = do you write brochures for Microsoft? :) – DA01 Dec 17 '15 at 5:57
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    Not for MS, but I have written my fair share of product copy 😉 But I never write a value prop I don't believe! – plainclothes Dec 17 '15 at 6:05

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