What does anyone know about SharePoint? More to the point, what does anyone know about SharePoint use in the enterprise? The answer to the first question is arguably "quite a lot." But the response to the second is probably "not so much," unless Microsoft decides it’s going to release that information.

Now think about Office 365, By all accounts, Office 365 is a success. But what do we really know about its enterprise use? 

ConceptSearching, which specializes in information retrieval software, has just released a white paper that purports to answer your most pressing questions about the state of the SharePoint and Office 365 market.

SharePoint Market Survey

The survey, conducted between November and March, is based on 432 unique surveys completed by organizations using one or more versions of SharePoint or Office 365 in a hybrid or cloud environment. 

It was not sent to Concept Searching clients or prospects, the report maintains. Rather, “Participants were sought in this way to ensure unbiased results."

This research gives insights into the use of SharePoint now, the use of SharePoint in the future, the level of use of Office 355, and as far as it can be gauged, how it being used in the enterprise. And it’s not all good news - - for Microsoft, anyway.

But before taking a look at the findings, it's important to note that this is not an axe job by a disgruntled vendor. On the contrary, Concept Searching is a Microsoft Gold Application Development Partner and a Business-Critical SharePoint partner.

Office 365 in the Enterprise

Martin Garland, president of Concept Searching, said the survey looks at the challenges as well as the advantages of a SharePoint or Office 365 specific environment. "This helps us focus on the delivery of enhancements to our solutions, which address technology challenges that need to be met,” he wrote.

In terms of SharePoint and SharePoint Online — or Sites in Office 365 —, Microsoft has added a number of products and features to gain competitive advantage.

To a large extent it has succeeded, even if this is only the beginning of a long road in developing the functionality and improving the current infrastructure.

Office 365 has managed to corner the enterprise productivity and content management markets, although there is tough competition from the likes of Google, Alfresco, M-Files and Huddle, plus big players including Xerox, IBM, Hyland, Lexmark and OpenText.

SharePoint, SharePoint Online

But Microsoft is not helping itself either. According to the report, Microsoft has made mistakes along the way. 

The report even goes so far as to point out that SharePoint Online created problems rather than solved them, explaining, “The inclusion of SharePoint Online, in many ways, muddies the waters as organizations must now evaluate their long term plans for SharePoint and Office 365, rather than making a cloud based application decision that will address organizations’ specific needs, such as collaboration, document management, or business social applications."

Keeping in mind that the report is designed to pinpoint how enterprises are applying and using metadata in SharePoint deployments, it threw up a number of interesting facts about how it is being used.

Use of SharePoint 2010 and 2013 is now neck and neck, and only 17 percent of organizations are using SharePoint 2007. According to the similar 2014 report, 50 percent of organizations were using SharePoint 2013, 76 percent were using SharePoint 2010 and 27 percent were using SharePoint 2007. 

Furthermore, this year the survey had to take into account SharePoint 2016 and the part of its roadmap that indicates that SharePoint 2016 on-premises will change as far as possible into a cloud application.

 “SharePoint organizations are interested in the business benefits whether that is in the cloud,  or be that on premises. They want to know how to work more productivity, how to work more efficiently, how to improve what they are doing,” Carla Mulley, vice president of marketing at Concept Searching, told us.

SharePoint Use

Mulley also pointed to the fact that despite the fact that they say they hate SharePoint, a large number of organizations are not prepared to do without it. However, they are prepared to go outside the fold to find things that are not happy with, like search

“There is a considerable percentage that are looking at non-Microsoft solutions. This is a huge change in attitude,” Mulley said.

“Office 365 wants to be all things to all people which if you look at analyst reports and all that kind of thing that is not the way people are adopting the cloud.  They are not saying let’s get rid of on-premises and lets go with Office 365.”

It's not just search, it’s about all enterprise applications and the ability of enterprise to pick and choose what they want and when they want it from the cloud.

"Enterprises are much more selective now. They are buying specific applications to solve a specific problem,” Mulley added. 

“Microsoft is making so many SharePoint adjustments. If I was in a SharePoint organization I would not move to Office 365 because they are either building it as fast as they can or they are buying it as fast as they can and I don’t know, as a SharePoint organization, that I would want to take on that risk without having a proven product."

 She points out that even installing SharePoint or moving to the cloud is an issue for enterprises. 

“There are too many issues," she said.