While there is ample anecdotal evidence to suggest that companies are using SharePoint in many ways other than the original concept of SharePoint as a collaboration platform, many companies are still using it for their intranets.
In fact, according to Janardhanan Shankar, VP at Cognizant, in the opening presentation at the Advanced Intranets and Portals conference in Amsterdam, for companies with workforces of over 1000 workers that are looking to develop an intranet, SharePoint is still the application of choice.
Leaving aside those companies that are already using IBM, enterprises are currently looking at how a SharePoint deployment will meet their communication needs or, in the case where there is already a SharePoint deployment, what they can build on top of it to make it better.
The fact that SharePoint is being talked about in terms of intranets is interesting in itself, given that there is ample evidence to suggest that it is being used for other functions such as enterprise content management, but probably more interesting are the three emerging trends around SharePoint that Shankar says are notable in IT departments across the world.
It is these three trends, he says, that will dominate intranet development over the coming years. Already with the conference only started, all three trends have come under scrutiny by the speakers that followed, and the program, over today and tomorrow, look set touch on them frequently.
As we will be returning to them in the posts that follow, let’s take a quick look:
1. Social Web
Those with SharePoint deployments already are looking at ways of layering a social layer on top of SharePoint. From a business point of view, managers are not entirely convinced that there is value in it, so while there is interest, investment has yet to follow.
Where a social layer has already been developed, it is being used primarily to bring together started and specific groups. In this respect, he cites brand rooms where disparate teams from around the world are coming together to work on a particular company product, or providing a place where users in a specific region can come together.
2. Mobile Web
It seems no one can escape from mobile or mobile content. According to Shankar, not only are people looking for their content to be mobile, but they are also looking for their intranet to be mobile, even if that intranet has been built on SharePoint — and problems of mobile SharePoint we don't even want to touch now.
In enterprises that haven’t really thought this through, there are considerable problems here, not least of which is the fact that, in the majority of companies, the IT department that looks after "mobile"and the department that looks after intranets tend to be different; they both have different mandates. For an intranet strategy that will work, these departments will need to, if not come together, than at least work together.
Shankar also cites video as the growing element in intranet at the moment, with video management becoming increasingly important as it is used not just to sell to clients now, but is also being used to demonstrate and inform enterprise employees about projects.
There are a number of other issues that are starting to emerge such as analytics, or the look of the intranet. However, they tend to be IT rather than business issues; in the case of analytics, they concern analysis of who is using what tool — primarily a concern of the IT department — while in the case of the intranet look, it concerns getting the best look with the budgets — a design and IT issue. More on these issues over the next couple of days.