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SharePoint 2013 Analysis & Reviews

Microsoft is Aggressively Expanding its Office Store

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At the end of a week that saw Microsoft piling on functionality and cash incentives to capture a bigger slice of the enterprise market, including businesses with a mere 150 seats, it also announced an aggressive expansion of its Office store and more languages to capture new markets.

While it's obvious Microsoft is going to push its own products in its own store, it will also highlight third party apps that integrate with Microsoft tools.

Building a Hybrid Bridge to the Microsoft Cloud

2014-29-August-Rope-Bridge.jpgWhen Satya Nadella announced Microsoft’s new Mobile-First, Cloud-First strategy, he drew a line in the sand with Microsoft employees and set the company on a new course. When Microsoft COO, Kevin Turner reiterated the message at the World Wide Partner Conference in July, he sent partners scrambling to get cloud certified, saying “Selling on-premises software was good for you and us for a long time but the future lies in the cloud and mobility, and Microsoft plans to go in that direction with our partner community intact.”

Customers have felt the shift as well as they ponder what solutions can be cloud based and how to integrate them without significant effort and cost. Some organizations look at Office 365 and feel insecure about moving to a multi-tenant environment. Many organizations have significant investments in on-premises applications and infrastructure so moving to the cloud will not be an easy process.

These critical business systems have kept the wheels of commerce running for some time and have been built up with many layers of complexity and integration. Strict compliance regulations prevent many companies from exposing data in a cloud environment. With these constraints and issues in mind Microsoft has created a number of hybrid options that allow companies to selectively migrate enterprise solutions or build new applications that use cloud services while maintaining an on-prem infrastructure.

Let’s look at the options.

DAM Confusion in the Marketplace

2014-21-August-Maze.jpg(UPDATED 8/27) With the announcement of Microsoft’s partnership with the DAM vendor ADAM last month, it would be easy to say that Microsoft has de facto conceded defeat for SharePoint, a MS tool often promoted as a DAM. This would be a mistake; SharePoint and ADAM were never really competitors. Despite the claims of some enthusiastic sales people, SharePoint has never really been functional as a true DAM system. This new partnership solidifies SharePoint’s role in an overall DAM strategy as a file sharing and workflow tool that can be integrated with true DAM system – and especially so with ADAM, as they share the .NET code base.

One question still lingers: will Microsoft continue to promote SharePoint as a DAM tool while using ADAM both internally and as the DAM solution in their cloud offerings? Both the question and its answer open up the complex world of DAM marketing and branding for those in the industry.

Take Back Your SharePoint Governance Plan

Let’s start at the beginning … What is a governance plan? In the IT world a governance plan is typically a set of roles, responsibilities, procedures, policies, etc., that an organization can build around the usage of a particular piece of technology. When you are implementing new software either for the first time or in preparation for an upgrade, a governance plan is important, but depending on the technology, may not always be required.

When you are implementing SharePoint, a governance plan is definitely required.

Corralling Non-Microsoft Content in the Cloud

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Ten years ago, Yahoo and Google offered rapid creation of free file sharing and collaboration spaces -- perfect for group papers, sports teams, families -- in short, any group of people who needed to see a common, centralized set of files.

There's no shortage of Web hosted business-oriented file services in today's cloud era: OneDrive, OneDrive for Business, Box, Google, Dropbox, Salesforce Chatter, among others.

Most recently, Amazon announced its new enterprise cloud file sharing service, Zocalo. Zocalo will offer simple document feedback, centralized repositories, offline sync to laptops, phones and tablets, security and directory integration. As with many of these services, the costs are minimal to none, allowing users to stand up a new repository in minutes for a project with a credit card.

These services pose a real challenges for the Microsoft enterprise.

Google Kicks the Productivity Stool From Under Microsoft

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It’s been an interesting couple of weeks in the document management space, made all the more interesting by the ongoing competition between Microsoft and Google around their productivity suites.

We also saw recently that most enterprises are still struggling with document management while both Metalogix and Accellion have released new products to help overcome this.

Why You Should Never Upgrade SharePoint

Information Management, 2014-11-August-Monkey-Tools.jpgClients often tell me that they want to "upgrade their SharePoint" without understanding what it is that they are requesting. "Upgrade" makes the process sound much easier than it actually is.

When you upgrade Microsoft Office, you can open all of your old documents in the new version after a simple install. If your previous version of Office was really old, the software might prompt you upon opening each document to convert it to the latest version -- a one-time task that runs automatically.

People tend to think that a SharePoint "upgrade" is as simple as installing the latest version of SharePoint on the server, and then the content and documents will automatically port over. This could not be further from the truth!

Where User Experience Should Fit in SharePoint's Roadmap

SharePoint, 2014-08-August-Jigsaw-Puzzle.jpgMany people have singled out SharePoint's user experience (UX) as one of the main culprits in lagging adoption and engagement numbers since the launch of the platform. Arguably it wasn't until the 2010 version that Microsoft took targeted steps to remedy this, adding important usability improvements and social capabilities. It was also during the SharePoint 2010 release timeframe that the partner ecosystem grew to support design and UX. This expansion introduced new options for customers, as well as provided feedback and direction for Microsoft, leading to further enhancements in the SharePoint 2013 release, including mobile enhancements and the support of device channels.

But even with SharePoint 2013's focus on the presentation layer and ongoing UX developments inside of Office 365 -- such as deeper integration with Yammer, PowerBI and the Delve (formerly Codename Oslo) interface -- has it been enough to improve adoption and engagement?

5 Administration Tips for SharePoint and OneDrive for Business

2014-06-August-traffic-police.jpgI've been planning on writing a Top 5 article on SharePoint administration and management for the past six months, but now that I'm finally doing it I find I must expand the scope. What's different?

The pace of change has accelerated.

Having worked in the SharePoint space for the past 10 years, it's easy to note the changes, the biggest shift being what is happening with Office 365. With OneDrive for Business, Microsoft has taken aim at the online drive space. And just as the competitors, they are trying to replace your hard drive and file shares with a cloud version, providing 1 terabyte of storage for each user.

Focus on the Last Mile of SharePoint Automation

2014-30-July-Long-Road.jpgThe rise of social and collaborative networks has changed the nature of the business interaction. The inbox and the Rolodex have become foreign to us. We expect instant access, constant updates and alerts, and data about every aspect of our lives to be readily available. We expect common business activities to be automated, streamlined, easy. Many of our measurements for success in business (certainly from the information worker's standpoint) revolve around the quality of the user experience we receive -- or create for our customers.  

When surrounded by a team of people, it is easy enough get the necessary help from others to work through a complex or confusing business process. However, as an employee in a remote office, most of your daily information worker activities are likely self-driven. Many of the interactions that require involvement from others, who may be located in another time zone, can take time and reduce your productivity while you are waiting. Suddenly it is not just about identifying the right person for an approval or feedback but about balancing their availability against your project and time constraints.

Design Information Systems with SharePoint in Mind

Any company that stores information on a computer is storing knowledge. But not all companies have an effective knowledge management system in place to manage that information. That depends on how the system was planned and how it is managed on an ongoing basis.

Whether you have a new system or an existing one that encompasses several different platforms, it's important to assess whether it is delivering all that it can for your organization. How can you do that? An (enterprise content management) ECM Reference Architecture can help you understand gaps and redundancies from a platform perspective.

Reimagine Retail Inventory to Remove Customer Hurdles

2014-28-July-Vintage-Sneakers.jpgThe retail industry is at a crossroad. We've discussed omnichannel behavior for some time now -- both from a consumer and organizational perspective -- but we need to turn that discussion into strategy and action. Retailers are now challenged to use insight from data created across these channels to drive better business performance and meet customer expectations. Technology is they key to enabling this.

Nowhere has the explosion of omnichannel been felt more deeply than retail inventory. Monitoring, moving and replenishing stock was relatively simple when the only end point was the physical store network. But consumers now discover, browse and buy from retailers through a variety of channels -- physical, mobile, online -- through marketplaces and from Drop Ship Vendors (DSVs), which is creating more range, storage and fulfillment options than ever before.

Microsoft Tightens the Reins on Office 365

Companies are still signing up for Yammer — despite the fact that user adoption remains a problem. 

In fact, according to Yammer co-founder David Sacks, the British grocery retailing giant Tesco has just inked a 250, 000 seat deal with Yammer. The information was contained in a memo from Sacks to Microsoft employees.

Sacks announced on Twitter late last week that he is leaving Microsoft, but did not specify why.

Take Control of Growing SharePoint Environments

2014-28-July-Conductor.jpgSharePoint is complex. With increased SharePoint adoption comes a number of IT challenges -- more users, more content and increased mission-criticality. Yet managing and maintaining a high-performance environment doesn’t require a costly or complex solution. Staying ahead of a rapidly evolving SharePoint environment requires a commitment to success, backed by proactive and thoughtful goal-setting, testing and measuring.

SAP Jam's Approach to Social: It's All in the Work Patterns

2014-25-July-Loom.jpgThe social adoption and ROI discussions are getting louder as more and more enterprises implement social collaboration solutions and struggle to find success. Adoption and ROI are difficult areas to define, measure and implement. The Altimeter Group released a report on The Evolution of Social Business detailing how organizations that have implemented social have created technology silos and lack clear focus or strategy in how it should be deployed across the enterprise.

As social has become mainstream over the past few years, we have seen major software vendors across vertical markets and solution types integrate social into the fabric of their core products. Dion Hinchcliffe highlighted this trend in 2011 in his blog post “Putting Social to Work,” where he described the integration of social with ERP suites like Oracle, IBM, Salesforce, Microsoft and SAP.

I recently spoke with SAP's Social Software Solutions Senior Vice President and General Manager, Sameer Patel about social adoption and ROI. We discussed how SAP views these issues and how it developed the SAP Jam platform to address them. Its an interesting approach that's worth exploring in more depth.

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