Since Microsoft unveiled SharePoint back in 2001, it has been one of the fastest growing products in the software giant's history. Along with billions of dollars in revenue, the platform now boasts 125 million users and counting.

Businesses first deployed SharePoint as a point solution for document sharing amongst project teams and as a stand in to files-shares. SharePoint proved a capable solution for these challenges and Microsoft has continually added to its capabilities.

But despite its scope, and as with many types of software, it suffers from a perceived lack of user commitment.

Stalled SharePoint Projects

It is little surprise then, that in a recent AIIM survey of 422 organizations respondents described their SharePoint projects as stalled (26 percent) or just not meeting expectations (37 percent). Inadequate user training and a general lack of planning, investment and expertise were the main reason given for this malaise. And the recent talk about how Office365 and cloud fit in with SharePoint has further muddied the waters.

And yet support for SharePoint remains strong. Despite only 11 percent of businesses identifying their SharePoint projects as successful, 75 percent of respondents said they still have a strong commitment to making the platform work. There has been a doubling of take up in the cloud 365 version, and nearly 40 percent of users continue to adopt multiple add-on products to fill in gaps and extend functionality.

Enterprises have invested in SharePoint, seeing it as "best in show" for team collaboration and content management. Yet users have increasingly turned to consumer-style collaboration tools like Box and Dropbox, claiming that SharePoint is unintuitive. 

Plan, Plan and Plan Again

But SharePoint isn't going anywhere any time soon. Microsoft is already providing a teaser campaign around the launch of SharePoint 2016, although no release date is in sight yet. It promises SharePoint on premises and online will get a bold make-over.Microsoft also made clear its intentions to use SharePoint in hybrid environments, which should catch the attention of enterprises and make it easier for them to deploy the product.

With the regular updates and the plethora of add-on products available, why aren’t more enterprises mastering the platform? By failing to view it as a business tool, businesses never take the next step, to work out how to integrate the platform into their systems to improve workflows.

Learning Opportunities

There's a big difference between applications and platforms. And SharePoint is a platform. It requires integration with other enterprise systems and third party systems to fill out its functionality.

Shifting business process from paper across to SharePoint is key if enterprises are to get real value from their dollar spend. It also takes extensive planning to make it work properly. By using add-on projects, you can avoid being locked into custom workflow development. If SharePoint is only used for simple project team collaboration, you lose out on the platform's full potential.

Lack of buy in from senior management is another reason for failing SharePoint deployments. Businesses shouldn't skip on an information governance (IG) framework either. One in five organizations failed to link SharePoint with IG policies. Organizations can use IG Frameworks to see where the gaps are in SharePoint’s capabilities, notably in records management. 

Crystal Ball Gazing

Microsoft has been advocating a hybrid move to the cloud -- keeping more sensitive data on premises. This hybrid approach and a greater synergy between its product portfolio shows the way forward, with SharePoint positioned as part of Microsoft’s Office365 suite.

Microsoft hasn't given up on SharePoint yet. It still plays a major role in its overall strategy. And judging from the survey results, businesses aren't giving up on SharePoint either. While the times are changing, SharePoint is changing with the times.