The fun part of every December is to look back at the year and think through all that has happened. Looking at all the ups, the downs and the unknowns can really be an eye opener to get you ready to make the resolutions and plans for the next year, because there really is no point in looking back if you don’t take the extra steps to plan forward.

Looking Back

In this article we are going to do just that, with a focus on SharePoint. Now, while it is true this article is very personal to my experiences, it is also likely that much of it will apply to you as well. I encourage you to look through my list and then come up with your own. Next December we can compare notes and see how far we have come!  

From Documents to Process

The first big thing that I wanted to recognize as being a big win for 2012 is that many of the people that I have worked with on SharePoint projects have started to switch focus from “a better way to store documents” to a focus of “a tool to make work easier.”

To me this was a natural progression. The first step always seemed to be providing a way to “work better with documents” and then once they got a small taste of that, they wanted to just “work better.” This has been a fun transition for me because once people get a taste of SharePoint, they can’t help but to want more.

HR Onboarding

The next highlight of year for me was seeing so many HR departments recognize that they could use a tool like SharePoint to try to automate and improve their internal onboarding process for new hires. If I had a dollar for every time I was asked about this in 2012 I would be a rich lady!

This signaled a turning point to me for many organizations that were using SharePoint. Most of the people who made the inquiry knew very little about technology, but they knew they had content that needed to be distributed based on a process and tracked for accuracy. Most of them had recognized other internal wins with SharePoint and saw it as a potential solution for their needs as well. This one type of project came up almost weekly in conversations that I had with clients.

Like all things in business, SharePoint was a great fit for some groups and other groups decided to go with other tools. The project itself wasn’t really what stuck out to me, instead it was the trend of business users seeing something successful with one thing and then applying it to their situation and identifying it as a potential solution. 

Governance in Action

The third and final highlight of my year was seeing so many people living out the idea of realistic governance for SharePoint. By realistic, I mean, planning smart and implementing governance where it makes sense and is manageable.

Within this last year people seemed to latch on to the idea that governance is important, but they have to be smart about it and apply it to their unique environments. Without the application to their environments, governance was really just a fancy buzz word that they knew they needed.

This year, with many of the people I worked with, there was a strong desire to take best practices and apply them to fit within their environment. Applied governance really took main stage this year and it was one of the biggest wins in my mind.

Planning Forward

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As I sit and think of how far we have come this year, I can’t help but be excited about the next year! 2013 is going to bring many exciting, fun and challenging changes to the industry, especially SharePoint. I am going to highlight a few of my predictions for next year. Take a look and use the comments to let me know what predictions you might have for 2013.

Platform & Device

So the first prediction I have is that regardless of the platform or device, a user is going to have expectations that it works. If they are working on their home PC, their office Desktop, their tablet device, cell phone or a kiosk, they are simply going to expect it to work and work the same.

Devices are everywhere now and it is common that from almost anywhere we can have immediate access to the internet and content. While I think people will have reasonable expectations of security, I think they will expect that content is accessible from multiple locations and devices in a common and repeatable way.

Internal & External Communication

My next prediction is that users are going to have the expectation that they can work the same way with external partners and vendors as they do with internal vendors. If they identify something that works internally, why not be able to easily use the same methods and processes externally?

I think that this demand is going to push more and more organizations to develop a solid external communication strategy. This will likely include involvement from multiple levels of the organization and require, in many cases, a much stricter governance plan. But regardless of how the problem is solved, I am predicting that this will be one need that I hear over and over in the next year.

Upgrading to 2013 with Consideration to the Cloud & Hosting

As organizations look at what it will take to upgrade and provide a 2013 SharePoint environment to their organizations, I believe that they will use this as a chance to look into hosting options at the same time. I imagine that each organization will look at what they are currently doing and try to identify what efficiencies could be found in a hosted or hybrid environment.

In the past few years this has become a greater trend for many organizations, but at this point it seems like the stars are aligning for many and that the options available now can meet the demand of the organization. Even if an organization chooses to keep their data internally, I predict that there will be many internal conversations around why they are choosing to do so and what alternate options currently exist.

With this release of SharePoint, many organizations will find that common everyday problems and issues with SharePoint have been addressed in the newest release, and in order to meet the demands of the users, upgrading to the newest release will need to be considered.

After all, why invest in developing tools that are no longer needed because SharePoint 2013 provides the functionality out of the box? Or why struggle with training users on things that they find difficult to do, that are much easier and much more natural in the new release of SharePoint?

While I understand that an upgrade will not be in the future for all organizations, I do predict that even those that don’t typically follow a fast upgrade cycle will be more inclined to consider it. As organizations determine the additional components needed to effectively run SharePoint 2013, it will just naturally make sense for them to consider different options for delivering the environment.

So there you have my three predictions for the upcoming year:

  1. Devices are going to Dominate How We Think
  2. Users will want to Communicate Beyond the Boundaries of the Internal Organization
  3. Evaluation of Hosting Options

The alignment of these lean in to each other because in order for organizations to truly adapt and respond to the ever changing needs of the organization, it is likely that they will need to do this with even less resources than they currently have. By investigating hosting options they will likely be looking to identify ways that allow them to be more responsive to the ongoing needs of the users.

All in all, I think this next year is going to bring to the forefront a lot of the ideas that we have been speaking about for years. I think that this will be a year of organizations aligning their resources so that they can meet the demands of the users.

I would love to hear what you think about in terms of predictions for next year! I am excited to be where I am, and I for one am really looking forward to all the things to come in 2013.

Image courtesy of FreshPaint (Shutterstock)

Editor's Note: Want to read more from Jennifer? Try What is This SharePoint Thing All About Anyway?