There were no big Microsoft-based announcements for SharePoint this year. 2011 was really about proper planning and implementation practices for SharePoint 2010. And of course, it was about the partner ecosystem and all the good stuff it brought to the SharePoint platform. Here are some highlights, mixed in with a discussion about social business with Jared Sparato.

SharePoint Has Not Lost its Luster

No, Microsoft didn't offer up a new version of SharePoint this year, and yes, the big SharePoint conference in October was focused on getting better at SharePoint 2010 and the customer success stories. But that doesn't mean it wasn't an interesting year for the platform. So, let's look at what I saw as some of the highlights for SharePoint this year:

SharePoint from the Experts

We've had no shortage of great insights into how to make SharePoint 2010 work best for your organization. Joe Shepley, Symon Garfield, Christian Buckley and Mimi Dionne are four regular contributors to CMSWire who bring a range of advice and insights into the different aspects of the SharePoint Platform.

A few of the more popular SharePoint articles this year:

Of course we've had our share of not so positive looks at SharePoint:

And a few realistic looks at what the platform can really be used for:

Our SharePoint tweet jam also offered up a wide range of opinions and guidance on using SharePoint 2010: Tweet Jam Summary: SharePoint in the Enterprise #EIMChat

SharePoint from the Research

SharePoint has always been considered a document collaboration tool, sometimes just a glorified file share. But this year, thanks to all the new functionality that came with SharePoint 2010, the platform has been looked at not only as an option for enterprise content management, but also as a collaboration platform:

Let's Not Forget the Partners

It would take a year to list the SharePoint partners and all the integration points made to give SharePoint stronger capabilities in areas like social computing and enterprise content management.

Here are just a few:

Or the Competitors

The competition continued this year for those who think they have "the" SharePoint alternative:

And the Role of the Community

I had the chance this year to talk to some of the people who contribute to and help drive the SharePoint Community. This is their view:  The SharePoint Community: What it is, Why It's Important and Microsoft's Role

Microsoft's Take on Social Business & SharePoint

I also had the opportunity to talk to Microsoft's Director, SharePoint Product Management, Jared Sparato a while ago about SharePoint and Social Business in general, and it was an interesting chat. Sparato said that the two big principles of social business are:

  1. Business wants to be as productive as possible, and
  2. People are the center of the process.

He said that connecting people isn't the end, it's a means to the end -- productivity. He also pointed out that SharePoint was doing this before anyone was even talking about social business, the platform has always been about connecting people, with information and processes.

SharePoint is also not about chasing tech trends. The fundamentals have been nailed, the differentiators are clear. Sparato says that Microsoft is looking at where SharePoint is headed, and it's not about chasing the latest greatest features. Features in themselves are not what makes a platform successful.

And that's is a lot of the reason why you don't see SharePoint updates coming out at a quicker rate. It's not that Microsoft doesn't understand time to market, because they do and you see that in the regular updates that come with Office365 (see The SharePoint Cloud: Benefits of Office365). But SharePoint on-premise has been historically focused on the IT professional, who isn't looking for constant updates, and while it's clear that the audience for social business solutions is changing, it's not changing over night and Microsoft needs to be respectful of its current customer base.

It's possible you consider that a cop-out. But it's a realistic view of where SharePoint is today and how it got there. Is that going to change? Likely and Microsoft will have to figure out how to change with it. Office 365 is a huge part of that change. FAST Search for SharePoint 2010 is another part of the change (see SharePoint for Customer Experience Management, Not So Far Away).

I think SharePoint is going to hold its own next year, and we can expect changes to come to bring it more in line with today's expectations for innovation. But that won't all come from Microsoft, it will also come from the partners and greater SharePoint community.

And like everyone else, we will be there to see it happen and bring it all to you.