While we have seen over the week just gone by the massive interest in SharePoint and a steady increase in the deployment of SharePoint 2010, how it is being used across the enterprise varies. A new EMC-sponsored AIIM report shows that one of those uses is as an enterprise content management system.

SharePoint Deployments

The report -- entitled Using SharePoint for ECM: How well is it meeting expectations? by Doug Miles and based on the results of 674 surveys carried out across AIIM members between April 15 and May 5 -- confirms that, already, SharePoint 2010 is being used by a large number of enterprises for content management.

Recently published, it shows, in fact, that over a third of organizations are using SharePoint to manage content across the enterprise, and over half believe that SharePoint will become their primary enterprise CMS in the future.

While it is debatable whether this is a good or bad thing, it also shows that over 60% of users are showing strong interest in third-party additions and integrations, which can fill perceived functionality gaps.

Behind those figures, though, there are some notable caveats. While many are using it for content management, traditional enterprise CMS applications such as scanning and capture, forms processing, document workflow and records management have yet to be widely adopted.

There are other problems too. While we have noted before that planning deployments is still a major issue for many enterprises, both this research and other research released by OpenText during the SharePoint Anaheim conference shows that deployment still appears to be haphazard.

Where is SharePoint Now?

It is not really surprising that interest in SharePoint as an enterprise content management system is as high as it is, given adoption rates across all verticals and in all business segments from SMBs to Fortune 100 companies.

Over the past ten years, since the first release, it has moved from being an intranet and basic collaboration application to something that is now used for portals, collaboration, forms processing, business intelligence, business process management and content management.

According to Miles, who heads AIIM's Market Intelligence Division, its adoption is in the region of 60-70%, and with the improved functionality in SharePoint 2010 of content management, records management and business process management capabilities of SharePoint, this is set to increase.

While there is still no agreement as to whether it provides true enterprise CMS capabilities in comparison to traditional suites, there is no doubt from this research that where it is deemed to be lacking by enterprises, third-party add-ons are being used instead.

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SharePoint deployments

While the popularity of SharePoint is indisputable, and despite much talk about upgrading to the 2010 version since it was released in May last year, it seems enterprises have been slow to make the jump, the research shows.

According to Miles, only 8% of SharePoint users have completed the upgrade to 2010, while the rest are either happy to stay with the 2007 version, or just haven't got around to moving yet.

That said, 21% have deployed SharePoint 2010 as a first use with 6% of those live already and a further 28% moving from 2007 to 2010, with half of those expecting to be fully live by the end of the year.

Small and particularly mid-sized companies are more likely to have 2010 as a first time use, with the mid-sized companies taking longer to go live.

SharePoint, Content Management

Of the organizations surveyed, 36% say they have it in use across the enterprise for content management with 11% of those using no other content system.

Interestingly, the level of integration between SharePoint and parallel systems is low; 19% are running enterprise CMSs, document management, or records management systems in parallel, while only 6% have SharePoint integrated with other systems.

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SharePoint enterprise content management functionality use

In terms of company size, large enterprises are more likely to have applications other than SharePoint to manage their content, but even still, 40% of those companies are using it for managing content, even if it’s not the exclusive purpose.

Midsized companies are less likely to be using SharePoint for content management, with only 26% managing content across the enterprise, while small companies, having made the investment, are twice as likely to have only SharePoint in use in their companies.

Content Proliferation in SharePoint

In terms of the amount of content now being stored or placed in SharePoint, it is probably no surprise that the amount of content is increasing dramatically.

Most companies surveyed, however, still have less than a terabyte of content in their deployments, although 5% now say they have over 10TBs and 17 reporting over 20TBs, up from 16 last year.

Site proliferation is still an issue, even if it looks like there is more control than there was last year; 14% have over 1,000 sites compared with 12% last year, while 16% have over 10,000 sites. And most are reporting considerable increases and are looking at further increases in the coming year.

Most companies say  they have in the region of 20% to 30% more content than they did one year ago, but 28% consider it is 50% or more, which means they are doubling the amount of content in SharePoint every two years, including 16% who are doubling or even trebling every year.

Enterprise CMS Functionality

Most users haven’t moved radically away from the original SharePoint purpose, and this survey shows that collaboration, intranet and use as portal have taken the top positions, followed by document management and then project management.

A third of organizations will pull as much information into SharePoint as possible to provide a universal information portal, whereas 37% plan to use SharePoint as a master-portal linking to other repositories. 19% plan to link to SharePoint from an existing dedicated portal or enterprise CMS.

Search, with or without the benefits of the FAST additio,n is still important while the traditional enterprise CMS function of records management, imaging and capture are only used in 8% of organizations. Other notable points include:

  • 85% will be using document management of some form
  • 68% plan a portal connection to other content repositories
  • 57% plan to use records management 
  • 47% will use case management
  • 43% will use forms capture from scanned input.

Given the disorganization we have seen in other places around email management, it is probably not surprising that it has the lowest current use (3%) around SharePoint and is the least likely application for the future at 32%.

Third-Party Add-Ons

Finally, even with the new features that appeared in SharePoint 2010, third-party features look like they will continue to remain popular with enterprises, a situation that is actively helped by Microsoft, which encourages ISV to develop value-added applications.

In this respect, workflow and business process management is the most popular add-on at 18% at the moment and 55% anticipating some kind of BPM add-on in the future.

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Desired enterprise CMS third-party add-ons

Apart from that, 40% of enterprises say they will be looking at add-ons for security, classification, records management and archive, and 30% are looking to improve back-up, storage and email.

Add-ons for e-Discovery, archiving, digital signatures and case management are also set to quadruple in adoption, and there is a growing interest in better email interfacing, but as before, this is from a low current adoption of 6%.

Even with the new functionality offered with SharePoint 2010, the research shows that enterprises, while increasingly using SharePoint for content management, are still not convinced about using it for all their needs and will look to other vendors to fill the gaps.

Key issues for enterprises is using SharePoint for collaboration and project management in the context of other existing enterprise systems and how SharePoint 2010 sits with those systems.

While, 53% overall consider SharePoint to be their primary enterprise CMS now and moving into the future, 22% will continue to use it with existing systems, requiring considerable planning for deployment.

However, for the moment while SharePoint continues to spread across the enterprise and while many are using it to manage some of their content, SharePoint running in parallel with other systems appears to be the wave of the future, with this kind of content management set up most likely.

There’s a lot more in the full report, so if you’re interested in more check it out here.