BT Tower 1[1]

BT plans to roll out an internal social networking site to its 100,000 employees, having developed the site based on early versions of the new Microsoft Sharepoint 2010 system.

The company, which this week reported a financial turnaround in its business after a difficult year, said it had been using a pre-release version of the system for eight months and is now moving to the new version. BT initially rolled out the new ‘Profile’ internal social networking site to a group of early adopter staff, and it will be rolled out across the business by the end of the year.

The site helps staff locate other employees with similar work areas or interests, as well as detailing project progress and offering easy group document sharing and editing, among other features.

Profile will be accessible to BT’s 18,000 mobile users, as well as to the 75,000 laptop and 25,000 desktop users who use earlier employee databases for staff information. It also allows the easy tagging and rating of data, BT said.

Peter Scott, chief technology officer at BT, told Computerworld UK at yesterday’s Sharepoint and Office 2010 launch: “We had ended up with many platforms doing different things, and with the new system we can bring together knowledge and project management, and collaboration.” At the event, Microsoft called the group of features an “unusual combination” that it said businesses had been asking for.

Scott said BT, which skipped Microsoft Vista in favour of Windows 7, had run a number of different employee directories. He added: “Using the new Profile is so much easier; it’s the only really quick way to find people in BT and to see what they’re working on.”

One of the most useful Sharepoint 2010 features, from BT's perspective, was the multi-user document authoring, he said: “Now you can easily have a group of people contributing to a document and receiving updates. It’s much easier to make progress.”