Like it or not, SharePoint continues to be a central topic of discussion. It’s a platform everyone integrates with at the same time criticizes and competes with. Love it or hate it, if SharePoint is inside your organization, it’s also safe to assume it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, SharePoint continues to grow in organizations of all sizes, from document collaboration and intranet publishing, to an increasing focus on business process workflows, internet and extranets. Today, many organizations are now in flight with their 2010 upgrades, replacing other portals and ECM applications, and even embracing social computing all on SharePoint.
Not Every Organization with SharePoint is Fully Committed to the Platform
In spite of SharePoint’s continued growth, it’s likely that Microsoft is just one of several vendors with related applications inside your organization. Yes, not every organization with SharePoint is fully committed to the platform or recognizes its capabilities or strategic importance. It’s also likely your users are working with other ECM, collaboration or external social vendors (with or without the blessing of corporate IT).
As a result, many organizations have wound up supporting multiple niche applications, disparate and siloed repositories, different object and security models, inconsistent taxonomies and UIs, redundant profiles and licensing with costly maintenance, administration and development. All the while, the exponential growth of information continues with a lack of strategy, standards, user experience, governance, security and compliance in how information is managed across the enterprise.
Best of Breed Has Made an Information Mess
While some argue that best of breed is the right approach, the results are in. This lack of a commitment to a unified information management technology ecosystem has gotten many organizations into a chaotic mess! IT has spread themselves too thin and can’t deliver solutions or services that meet the expectations of users. And we continue to see users go outside the firewall seeking information services and solutions that IT is unable to deliver -- thus proliferating the information chaos that exists today.
In fact, an analogous situation to this information chaos is the mess that GM found itself in. Inefficiencies and inconsistencies of product development and manufacturing platforms across the globe (compared to other car makers) almost led to GM’s demise. Today, GM is investing in fewer vehicle architectures, shared best practices across facilities, and shared costs of tooling across platforms -- all of which mean faster time to market and lower costs.
SharePoint’s Unified Ecosystem Approach Makes Economic Sense
By investing in a unified technology platform like SharePoint, the logic is that organizations can save money by sun-setting expensive legacy applications, quickly build or buy new add-on solutions, and lower their total cost of ownership while providing sufficient value to end-users. In fact, this thinking has been one of the drivers of SharePoint's broad adoption as the economics make sense and drive purchasing decisions.
However, focusing on economics alone does not mean that SharePoint is the answer for every problem or will ultimately enable your workers to collaborate or manage information any more productively than they do today. Technology is only the enabler and needs to be viewed within a broader strategic context.
The Strategy for SharePoint Should Focus on People & Information
As we re-envision the information workplace and invest in all kinds of new technology, the absence of an overarching strategy will ultimately lead to more information chaos. While strategy is often times a mysterious topic that only McKinsey or Gartner experts might address, it doesn't have to be that complicated.
The value of any technology to an organization at a high level includes driving revenue, reducing costs or being compliant. You need to look at the knowledge worker and identify what information they need to contribute to the shared value creation of the organization. For SharePoint to become a strategic technology, you need to embed it into the day-to-day information work-flows of people.
From sales, support, legal and finance...you need to enable and engage workers with a means to create and consume information, connect and socially collaborate. You need an economical and unified technology platform like SharePoint that helps manage information in a variety of forms while providing services that enable open and secure collaboration.
Editor's Note: You may also be interested in reading: