There are a lot of opinions about Microsoft Office SharePoint, some favorable and others less so, but no matter the camp you sit in, there is no denying it’s ubiquity in our organizations.

According to a recent AIIM (the Association for Information and Image Management professionals) Industry Watch Report “The SharePoint Puzzle,” that ubiquity is here to stay:

SharePoint has evolved from a somewhat lowly position to become the Swiss army knife of corporate IT departments, promising collaboration, team and project management, electronic content management (ECM), intranets and portals, records management, and more -- straight out-of-the-box, and with over 70 per cent of organizations having deployed SharePoint in some form, it appears to be here to stay.”

Despite its endurance in the enterprise, this Swiss army knife is generally considered to be short of a Web Content Management-shaped blade; according to the aforementioned AIIM report, only five percent of respondents using SharePoint for "public Web management.’

We are yet again on the cusp of a new SharePoint release and as an industry we are again pondering whether this is will be the release to disrupt WCM. As a Content Management Professional, I think you can age yourself by the times we’ve held our breath to see if this is time the Microsoft leviathan will lumber its way onto the mainstream WCM lawn.

Whether that is the case or not, Tony Byrne of the Real Story Group makes an interesting observation, that “if past experience is any guide, SharePoint 2013 is really SharePoint 2015.” In the meantime, analysts like Gartner’s Mick MacComascaigh note that many of their client enquiries and subsequently vendor evaluations have a SharePoint element to them, solidifying the argument that SharePoint integration is moving into the "mandatory" column on the RFP.

Why is That?

This new SharePoint release is being born into a world of engagement -- call it Web Engagement, Customer Experience Management or as Gartner describes it “Online Channel Optimization” -- and organizations are thinking about how to deliver relevant content to their audience across multiple social and Web touch points.

The demand for relevancy and targeted content is undeniable. Organizations need more than one version of their message; there are variants that need to consider the audience the message is addressing, as well as the channel it communicates through.

This appetite for fresh content is served by SharePoint in two ways. Firstly, SharePoint is a largely untapped resource of good content that enables a deeper connection with customers that are bored and unengaged with slick “brochureware” forged by the cool kids in marketing. Secondly, it’s familiar to a lot of people in the organization. Why teach employees, such as the engineers who write best-practice documents, a new Web Content Management system when they can simply continue collaborating as they have been through SharePoint, especially if they seamlessly publish their work to the Web from there?

All this is not to say that I am giving up on the idea of the democratization of Web Content Management and that we shouldn’t aspire to have the people that our audience wants to hear from plugged directly into Web publishing, especially if Web Content Management is the focus of a company’s social media publishing. But, using SharePoint as a pragmatic way of harvesting great content just makes sense.

As I said in another byline on CMSWire last year on SharePoint:  true, it may be the tool to build your Website on -- but liberating all of this great content and the people that contribute to it are a vital cog in the Web engagement machine. It therefore becomes imperative to hook SharePoint into your Web publication systems.

Editor's Note: Another article by Ian Truscott you may enjoy:

-- Engaged, Collaborative Employees Require CXM Style Thinking