What would a year in information management be without SharePoint -- any kind of SharePoint? We have to be careful to clarify now as talking about SharePoint could involve any one of four groups of products. In other words, we could be talking about the 2003 version -- and yes it is still being used -- the 2007 and 2010 version, and SharePoint 2013.

SharePoint Perspectives 

Even without the full release of SharePoint 2013, there is a deal to be said about SharePoint and over the past 12 months we, along with our expert contributors, identified and teased out the principal issues and concerns of enterprises using it.

There are, of course, recurrent themes throughout the year and the different versions of SharePoint -- my own favorite being the discussion around SharePoint as an Enterprise CMS -- and while we wait on tenterhooks for the full, general release of the next version, it is unlikely that the problems we have identified are going to be solved with a new version.

Generally speaking, and looking back globally over the year, this is because the main problems around SharePoint are not really SharePoint issues at all, even if SharePoint can aggravate the issues, the main problems are the result of unplanned deployments and disorganized information.

While this can be said of most systems that operate in the information management space, with SharePoint the problem becomes more acute as it reaches further and further into more and more enterprises.

It is hardly surprising then, that many of the big hitting posts from this year dealt with issues around deployments, as well as organizing and accessing content across whatever version is in use in a given enterprise.

1. SharePoint's Architecture

The year began on this theme with a contribution from Steven Pogrebivsky CEO of MetaVis Technologies, who points out that even though there have been 125 million SharePoint licenses sold already -- and this at the beginning of 2012 --  most enterprises don’t understand how to implement and manage their SharePoint platforms properly.

He stressed that of all platforms, SharePoint needs the application of proper information architecture more than any. By information architecture he is talking about the way the information is grouped, the navigation methods and the terminology within the system.

2. Business Case For SharePoint as ECMS?

From that, another issue arose that clearly resonated with readers and was a theme that many writers returned to over the year in some shape or other and that was the problems associated with using SharePoint as an Enterprise CMS system. This was not the first time that we broached this subject, but this time we looked at the business case for using SharePoint as one of the principal content management systems in the enterprise.

We cited two different reports that appeared over the course of 2011, both suggested that it is being systematically used as such as adoption levels increase. So much so, that Microsoft released a white paper that month making a business case. Entitled the Business Value of Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 Enterprise Content Management and coming from Microsoft, it argued that the business advantages of using it as an enterprise CMS are considerable.

But neither it, nor any of the other reports that came out over the year, were able to tell us whether it was worth investing in SharePoint as an enterprise, as many of the individual components of Enterprise CMS can be sourced in the cloud relatively cheaply.

This is something that is definitely going to come up again in the coming year, especially with the release of SharePoint 2013.

3. SharePoint Applications: 8 Basic Steps to Success

Another issue that crept up time and time again was the problems of moving from legacy systems to SharePoint.

Joe Shepley, a regular contributor to CMSWire as well as Vice President and Practice Leader at Doculabs, took the bull by the horns and in a series of interesting and challenging posts walked us through a process which, he says, offered no silver bullets for the problem, but did make things easier.

His starting point -- and we're back to the deployment planning devil here -- is discovering what your users are going to do with it and what capabilities they require. Simple!

4. Compensating for SharePoint's Gaps

Planning is everything. In the meantime, a further question that enterprises need to answer around SharePoint was the focus on a Forrester report at the end of February. It examined whether enterprises should replace their Enterprise CMS with SharePoint, or whether they should integrate the two. This wouldn't be an issue if the level of deployment across enterprises wasn't so high -- an estimated 63% in this report -- but it is an issue and enterprises need to decide what they are going to do.

In Putting Together the SharePoint ECM Puzzle, Alan Weintraub examines the problem. As his starting point, he urges enterprises to decide what they want their Enterprise CMS to do, what SharePoint functionality covers those needs, where gaps exist in those needs and what vendors best fill in those gaps.

5.  Mobilizing SharePoint

Infragistics' Jason Beres, VP of Product Management, took a look at one of the issues that is likely to become more and more important in the coming months -- securing SharePoint on your mobile. If more enterprises are using SharePoint as a content management system, and more workers are mobile, the demand for secure, mobile access to SharePoint is going to be a top concern.