Michael Steadman

Sure! This is not comprehensive by any means - I've probably missed a few -but here are my favorites:

For Discussion Forum's that 'work like users expect' - both Lightning Tools and Bamboo Solutions offer suites that can be deployed in minutes and provide dramatic improvements in discussion forums- Bamboo also has a bundle called 'community central' that includes discussions, plus some other nice web-parts that allow you to really improve social capabilities- http://lightningtools.com/social/ -or- http://store.bamboosolutions.com/sharepoint-community-central.aspx

Lightning Tools offers a 'chat' feature- but out of 300+ SharePoint customers - we've only really seen a 'chat' requirement a handful of times...

The MySite organizational browser is 'ok' - but if you don't have a MySite... you can use one of the 3rd party org-chart solutions- This is ONE of them- (I like it - because it's cheap, and easy to use, and you can point it to a list vs. Active Directory- sometimes at the departmental level this is better, since you may not need to deal with IT to deploy a solution)- http://www.sharepointorgchart.com/UserGuide/CompareOrgChartToOrganizationBrowser.aspx

The key to great social experience in SharePoint is the activity feed- users want to know who-is-working-on-what - this can be just about anything that's happening in SharePoint - colleague, files uploaded/saved, sites/groups joined, etc- The issue is that customizing the activity feed is troublesome- and there are some 'expected' behaviors that just don't exist- (i.e. facebook/linkedin allows users to post an image, or reply in-line to a comment, etc.) -

There are a few solutions- the biggest/baddest of them all is: http://www.newsgator.com/products-and-solutions/industries/government-and-military

There are also some solution-starters (i.e. not licensed installable products - services companies give buyers full source-code and a fairly wide-open perpetual license - but the service-company retains ownership of the IP so that they may modify and resell to others) - I happen to like this approach better- it's less expensive, and allows the customer to maintain control of the entire solution - as well as provides flexibility w/design, etc- (and no ongoing annual license)- There are a few of these, too- search codeplex for "sharepoint activity feed" - - or send email to [email protected] and ask to see SP Activity or SP Community (Disclaimer - I work at this company - this is not a sales-pitch - hence my upfront positioning of NewsGator as the lead solution for activity/social)

I've helped quite a few org's w/this conundrum- there are a lot of reasons to use (or not use) MySite - but my philosophy is that the decision shouldn't be based on social features- there are definitely ways to provide GREAT social features on SharePoint without deploying MySites.

this help?? Happy Friday-