Like many, we have been following the evolution of SharePoint 2010 since its general release last year. Anecdotal accounts suggest widespread deployment and use across enterprises with further deployments on the way. A little over a year later, we still wonder whether it has lived up to its initial promise and what exactly it is being used for at the moment and where it will go in the future.

It is difficult to answer those questionsand to gauge whether companies have a clear SharePoint 2010 strategy, or whetherenterprises -- and it seems this is the case with at least some -- have simply adopted a "Deploy now, strategize afterwards” approach.

Doug Miles, head of the AIIM Market Intelligence Division, has been thinking along the same lines, and, through AIIM, has published research that attempts to answer some of those questions.

Using SharePoint for ECM. How well is it meeting expectations? surveyed 674 members of the AIIM community in April and May this year.

He says SharePoint itself has developed since its first iteration into a solution that does just about everything for intranets, to enterprise collaboration, to business intelligence and business process management with an adoption rate of 60% to 70%, he says. Some figures that are worth noting about SharePoint in the enterprise include:

  • Only 8% of SharePoint users have upgraded to 2010 version so far; 21% are deploying 2010 as a first use.
  • 36% say they have SharePoint “in use across the enterprise for content management.” Included are 11% with no other content systems; 19% running unconnected ECM/DM/RM systems
  • A quarter consider their stored content in SharePoint to be doubling every two years or less and 5% have over 10TB of data already.
  • Collaboration and intranet are the most widely used application areas, then document management and search.

SharePoint 2010: How enterprises are using it

SharePoint 2010: How enterprises are using it

SharePoint Adoption

Going back to the State of the ECMIndustry Report earlier this year, we saw that 70% of the largest companies have completed an implementation of SharePoint.

Of all the enterprise licenses, only 36% or organizations are using it for content management, including 11% who have it as their sole ECM and 19% who have other ECM, RM or DM systems.

For content, most have less than a terabyte stored in deployments -- 17% have more than 20TB -- and many believe that the amount of content stored is growing at a rate of between 20% and 30% per year, with a further 28% estimating that it is doubling every year.

Enterprise Collaboration, Intranet, Portals

Looking at the applications that are being used for the most, we see that enterprise collaboration, intranet provision and portals are the most common uses, followed by document management and project management.

With functions such as imaging and forms capture, or records management, we see that only 8% of companies report using them widely. Project management is more popular in the US, with social business the principal European interest. Looking to the future, planned uses include:

  • 85% will be using document management
  • 68% plan a portal connection to other content repositories
  • 57% plan to use records management
  • 47% plan to use case management
  • 43% for forms capture from scanned input
  • Email management is faring badly in SharePoint, with only 3% using it and is the least likely application for the future at 32%

Enterprise Collaboration

In all of this, enterprise collaboration is the big winner. In the biggest organizations, not only do enterprises use SharePoint 2010 to collaborate and talk with colleagues, it is also used in communicating with external associates.

While project collaboration creates a need for check-in/check-out document management,file-share is still popular. The problem is that, although documents are stored by default in the database, the fact that they can no longer be seen directly makes some users uneasy.

This can lead to a situation with documents continuing to be stored on the file-share, with only the final version published into SharePoint.

If the file-share is barred for access in favor of SharePoint, there is a risk that users will choose to put work-in-progress documents on their non-backed up local drives -- something that is validated by the fact that less than a third of are committed to placing all documents into SharePoint.

SharePoint 2010: Types of enterprise collaboration

SharePoint 2010: Types of enterprise collaboration

Content Management

In terms of the kind of content that is being placed in SharePoint, the survey shows an interesting breakdown of file types.

While 20% will store videos and similar content in large file format, only 28% will store scanned documents, often for fear of breaching storage limits, which probably says more about a lack of understanding about capture than it does about SharePoint itself.

The result, Miles says, is that, while many different content types are being managed in SharePoint, traditional ECM functions such as scanning and capture, document workflow and records management are still being underused.

Business Process, Third-Party Integration

Business process management capabilities are widely available across SharePoint, requiring different level of skills depending on what is being considered.

Learning Opportunities

In this respect, project management is the most common automated process, followed by IT support, while there is considerable use of automated processes across line-of-business.

For relating processes to other enterprise systems, information portals are the biggest integration project, followed, again, by process management and even web content management.


SharePoint 2010 integrations

SharePoint 2010 integrations

However, links to enterprise content management applications, such as records management and imaging, is still low at 15%, but there are indications that they are set to grow, as are links to social media and analytics systems.

Third-party add-ons are still in demand despite the added functionality of SharePoint 2010, helped to some extent by Microsoft’s encouragement of such strategies.

Of those add-ons, BPM is the most popular at 18%, but the research predicts that this will grow to 55%. 40% are planning add-ons for security, classification, RM and archiving.

In addition to this, e-Discovery, digital signatures and case management are set to quadruple in adoption, and there is a growing interest in better email interfacing.

Fitting with Other ECMs?

Heading into the future, the rate of SharePoint deployment looks set to increase, but at the moment, 53% consider it to be their primary enterprise content management system -- 31% exclusively, 22% with other systems.

In terms of usage of SharePoint for core enterprise CMS requirements, the research shows:

  • 29% are happy to use the new Record Center functionality within SharePoint, 41% will continue to use existing records management systems
  • 34% say they will use a scan-to archive, as opposed to only 8% who will use it to scan to process 
  • Of the 55% of organizations that have plans to adopt social business systems, 36% will stick to native SharePoint capabilities with 15% using an add-on product or integration

SharePoint 2010: Third party integrations

SharePoint 2010: Third party integrations

SharePoint 2010 Now

It is possible to draw a number of conclusions from this report -- particularly that collaboration, project management and portal applications are still the main drivers for SharePoint adoption, and the fact that over half have the intention that SharePoint will become their primary ECM system.

It is also clear that many of the traditional applications of enterprise content management, such as scanning, workflow and records management, have yet to be adopted but, Miles says, it is likely that this is because many enterprises are still upgrading to SharePoint 2010, before proceeding to expand content management functions.

However, there is a lot more here than this and to really get an overview of SharePoint 2010 in the enterprise at the moment, it is worth downloading the report, which is available free here after registration.