At the SharePoint Conference in Anaheim California, Rob Koplowitz, Vice President and Principal Analyst at Forrester, shared the results of the Forrester survey on "Best Practices in SharePoint 2010 Adoption and Migration." The crowd was near capacity, and full of questions about the various data points, and some of Forrester's qualitative input. The following is a synopsis of the session, with some of my own feedback on the numbers from their survey of just under 1,000 SharePoint 2010 customers, the Forrester interpretation of the data, and my thoughts on where there may be room for additional research and investigation.

Rapid Adoption

Recognizing the complexity of the product, Rob began his presentation by saying that deployment can be very chaotic, stating "success with Sharepoint2010 can be like defining the line between control and chaos. Ultimately, it’s about functional need and organizational readiness."

What the data clearly showed was that SharePoint 2010 is gaining rapid adoption. Customers are not just looking at out-of-the-box features, but are seeking to expand through application development in the new environment. Rob mentioned the well-documented concerns people had about building out complex solutions in the MOSS2007 platform, with the result of many companies accelerating their move to 2010 to meet the need of future plans, with many companies, in particular, looking to build out stronger social capabilities.

As with most analyst reports, several questions arose from the audience (I was guilty of that) as to the level of granularity of the data. Specifically, I asked whether the Forrester data applied to customers with production 2010 environments rather than test or development environments. My thinking that many organizations may be providing answers to the survey based on their experience with non-production systems which could skew the data. Rob confirmed that customers were asked to answer based on "any systems that apply" and did not specify production systems.

Large Orgs vs Small Orgs

Another great question from the audience was whether the value proposition, in his view, changed for large versus small companies. He answered yes, elements that are compelling to small and large companies may overlap, but large companies have more need around search and management of unstructured data, which is why social is so popular. Enterprise Records Management (ERM) and Enterprise Content Management (ECM) are generally big company problems, while small companies are looking for basic document sharing and simple workflow and productivity solutions that are fast and flexible.

SharePoint Deployment Issues

This was a perfect segue into the underlying issue behind almost all of the negative statistics around SharePoint deployments: the importance of defining the role of SharePoint in your organization before deploying, understanding which features apply, and staying aware of end-use satisfaction issues. Rob pointed out that there are problems both with under-provisioning SharePoint (not building out enough of what people want) and over-provisioning the platform/portal (solutions that people have not asked for, cannot find a way to fit into the way they work). In both cases, he identified the issue as deployment teams not listening to their end-users, and not paying attention to the needs of the business.

You must organize your plans to capitalize on the benefits of SharePoint. Those organizations that plan are able to get the most value.

  • 59% said they were able to deploy SharePoint at the pace they had expected. This doesn't indicate whether it was fast or slow, deployments, and the pessimist in me says they could have had very low expectations (such is the reality of surveys and statistics -- you don't often get the detail you want, with insight into the specific survey wording or methodology).
  • 57% of customers are augmenting their platform with third-party tools, which is a broad range of solutions -- from web parts to workflow to administration tools. He broke this data out further, however, asking respondents whether they had expected, as part of their planning, to use third-party tools as part of their strategy. It was an almost evenly divided response.
  • The most often utilized third-party tool used to augment was Nintex Workflow (8% or surveyed), with workflow being the most common solution, followed by administration, and then social tools.
  • SharePoint is increasingly becoming the system-of-record, not just a document repository. This is a huge shift from perceptions (reality?) of the 2007 platform, with other tools and platforms now being positioned not as replacements, but as providing a collaborative front-end to SharePoint, most commonly in extranet or web-based. You can see this in the strategy of competitors like Box.net and Jive, where they are not fighting the SharePoint wave, but increasing their integrations with the platform.

The most audience discussion stemmed from one graph in which the following data was shared:

  • 79% of respondents said that SharePoint is meeting their expectations.
  • 73% of respondents said that SharePoint is meeting their business management expectations.

While certainly a positive data point for Microsoft, many in the audience voiced their concerns that this number was too high, and whether there was additional data that further sliced into the questions to provide greater insight. Others stated that while they didn't necessarily agree with the numbers, they wanted to know more about the questions asked.

When conducting the research, Forrester responded much the same way. So they split the second question, asking business people and technical people the same question, but separately. The result was that 76% of business users thought SharePoint was meeting business management expectations, skewing the data upward. Unfortunately, as Rob pointed out, all of their data is based on SharePoint 2010, and there is no historical data to show how these trends may have changed since MOSS2007.

Building on Top of SharePoint

Another audience question was whether Forrester saw SharePoint being used in end-to-end business processes versus specific point solutions, such as simple workflows, or capability to build a dashboard. In short, are people looking for comprehensive solutions built on top of SharePoint? Rob answered yes, that their research showed that companies are doing more and more integration, building out larger, bigger, broader solutions. He discussed how SharePoint is becoming more business critical, which is a natural trend as it is becoming the system of record and organizations are getting more comfortable with the capability and stability of SharePoint.

Some other interesting statistics:

  • 81% of installs are on prem, 8% in hybrid, 4% BPOS Standard, 3% BPOS-Dedicated.
  • 42% deployed before cloud was a viable option, but some of those would have considered cloud (no additional data/questions to help determine how many).
  • 26% said requirements precluded them from moving to the cloud. Rob commented that some respondents simply did not have requirements one way or the other, not that they had specific requirements that precluded them from moving to the cloud -- but did not have any further data detailing the split between them.

Important Closing Notes

In concluding his presentation, Rob re-emphasized the importance of planning, identifying a number of issues that have taken IT out of their comfort zone when it comes to SharePoint deployment and migrations:

  • Assessing SharePoint from a functional perspective (understanding what it can do)
  • Determining functional overlap with existing systems
  • Developing a roadmap to deploy the platform based on specific needs, risks, and readiness (don't deploy technology for the sake of technology -- build it because you need it)
  • Determine organizational readiness
  • Longer term, teams should:
    • Deploy into initial workloads and monitor (measure success)
    • Drive adoption (training, mentoring, evangelism)
    • Expand to workloads that may be riskier but offer significant new value (find new opportunities to add business value)


For more information on this study, you can email Rob Koplowitz or visit his website.

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