IT may be happy with SharePoint, but it looks like the business users aren't so much. This according to new Forrester research.

Microsoft Has Work to Do on SharePoint

Forrester’s August 2012 Global SharePoint Usage Online Survey showed some interesting, and maybe not so surprising things about Microsoft SharePoint. Those trends are discussed in a research report from Forrester's Rob Koplowitz and John R. Rymer, "SharePoint Enters Its Awkward Teenage Years."

Interesting side note that SharePoint is gaining traction in the smaller markets as well with 14% of survey respondents in organizations with less than 500 people.

Here's a question for you -- what do you use SharePoint for? Here's another -- is it working out the way you want? According to Forrester's research, SharePoint is seen as a key platform for managing unstructured content and enterprise collaboration. That's not surprising, after all, weren't those the primary use cases for SharePoint from day one?  Most organizations start with these functions, and some then decide to branch out and implement other SharePoint functions (like search and custom applications).

Forrester_SharePointUsage.jpg What's clear from the chart above, is that SharePoint is not a popular choice for external-facing apps or business intelligence (BI). This, says Forrester, is a problem for Microsoft, especially when many of the organizations Forrester speaks with would like to see BI capabilities inside SharePoint.

The insights workload is a missed opportunity for Microsoft, as we have found that customers are highly interested in making greater use of SharePoint for analysis and reporting, including dashboards."

Moving Up to SharePoint 2013

It feels like we're all waiting with baited breath for the official release of SharePoint 2013. Considering how long it took for SharePoint 2010 to get adopted, you would think no one would really be in a rush to go to 2013. But, 68% of respondents are planning to move to SharePoint 2013 within two years of its release. Why?

  • Product Stability: SharePoint 2010 was pretty stable, so orgs are feeling good that SP2013 will be the same.
  • Easier Upgrades: Again SharePoint 2010 had an easier upgrade path, and it's expected to be easier for 2013.
  • IT Satisfaction: Survey says 73% of IT are happy with SharePoint.
  • A Much Improved UI: There's lot of feedback on how much better the UI for SharePoint 2013 is, especially with the social features.

Business Ain't Gung Ho, But There's Time

It's good that IT is happy with SharePoint, but what about the business? These are the people who use the platform every day to get their work done. For IT satisfaction it was 73%, for business it's 62%. There's a bit of a space in there and all the issues are business-focused: adoption, a poor user experience, other tools (like email) and business value (leading back to adoption issues).

So what is going to bring SharePoint back to the business? Three things that everyone is talking about: cloud, social and mobile. But Forrester thinks Microsoft is in for a struggle to bring these things into the platform fast enough and well enough to make the business really get their money's worth.

  1. SharePoint in the Cloud: Microsoft has offered SharePoint Online first through BPOS and now through Office 365, but most orgs are still going with the on premises deployments. However, Office 365 is a good fit for those with low IT budgets and resources, those with only the basic requirements and those looking to quickly get an extranet up and running.
  2. Social SharePoint: Yammer appears to be the potential winning service here, but it's not tightly integrated yet, so we'll see exactly what it brings to the SharePoint table.
  3. Mobile: Microsoft supports its own mobile devices, but isn't so quick to support iOS and Android devices. There are, of course, third party apps out there that offer this, but its Microsoft's own support of the leading enterprise devices that still falls short.

All of these issues are recoverable and Microsoft has shown its desire to provide the necessary functionality that organizations are demanding (if not a little behind schedule). For those looking to take on Office 365, some concerns may get addressed much faster with the regular cycle of updates Microsoft is promising.

Forrester also says that Microsoft has been smart to open the SharePoint platform allowing for richer integrations from third party software as well as its own additional services (like Yammer).

Is SharePoint Domination At an End?

It always amazes me that we can hear so much disillusionment about a product that is still being rapidly deployed across organizations, one that includes a strong vibrant community ready to come to its aide. But it does seem that SharePoint is here for the long haul in some form or another.

Forrester points to two things Microsoft needs to nail for SharePoint to continue on its path of dominance: a better cloud story and stronger adoption. Both of these are crucial for any product/service today. There are a ton and more of options out there and we hear about them every day here at CMSWire. Can SharePoint succeed in a market that is changing as rapidly as this one? It will, the question is more where on the totem pole will it end up? Is SharePoint 2013 going to be the game changer? Or simply the fifth version of the platform?