Probably one of the most interesting interviews you could have is with Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, on the topic of SharePoint (news, site). Oh to be a fly on the wall in that interview room -- a fly that could also ask questions, mind you.
Forrester analyst Matthew Brown had that opportunity after Ballmer's keynote at SharePoint Conference 2009. Here are a few of the things that Ballmer said that caught our attention.
SharePoint is Like the PC
Ballmer talked about the growth of SharePoint over its lifetime. He walks you through SharePoint's evolution from portal/intranet, to including social networking and communities, to including business information and internet sites.
This evolution, he then compares to that of the PC, "the PC started off life as a spreadsheet machine, then became a programming machine, a word processing machine".
Is this comparison a sign of the importance Microsoft is placing on the success of SharePoint? Brown thinks so and it is hard to disagree considering the success of the platform to date.
How Microsoft is Growing the SharePoint Market
Ballmer talked about the things SharePoint 2010 will do that will take it from US 1.3 billion in sales to US$ 3 billion:
- Extending capabilities for the end user
- More of a platform for both developers and end users
- Taking advantage of Internet websites creation and management and hosting
It's these three things that Ballmer believes will propel SharePoint forward.
Working with the Competition
According to Ballmer, customers like what they are doing with SharePoint. And while yes, there aren't many direct one-to-one competitors for SharePoint, there are still competitors in many different scenarios.
In some cases, SharePoint deals with these point solution competitors and find themselves coming out on top. In other cases, such as enterprise content management, document management, they don't try to compete, but get the other vendors on board with SharePoint, extending it with their own capabilities (EMC and Open Text both come to mind here).
The reality in some cases -- like enterprise content management -- is that SharePoint is better suited to large groups of end users. It's this end user appeal that has pushed SharePoint to where it is today.
On 10 Years into the Future
Ballmer talked about the core vectors for SharePoint ten years down the road. The first is to drive SharePoint to pick up all the smaller applications (ones that take between 1 and 2 years to build) that organizations work on. The other, to continue on the path of improving the user experience, collaboration and social computing.
You can watch the video of the interview between Matthew Brown and Steve Ballmer below and read Brown's take on the interview here.