What would a year in information management be without SharePoint -- any kind of SharePoint? We have to be careful to clarify now as talking about SharePoint could involve any one of four groups of products. In other words, we could be talking about the 2003 version -- and yes it is still being used -- the 2007 and 2010 version, and SharePoint 2013.

SharePoint Perspectives 

Even without the full release of SharePoint 2013, there is a deal to be said about SharePoint and over the past 12 months we, along with our expert contributors, identified and teased out the principal issues and concerns of enterprises using it.

There are, of course, recurrent themes throughout the year and the different versions of SharePoint -- my own favorite being the discussion around SharePoint as an Enterprise CMS -- and while we wait on tenterhooks for the full, general release of the next version, it is unlikely that the problems we have identified are going to be solved with a new version.

Generally speaking, and looking back globally over the year, this is because the main problems around SharePoint are not really SharePoint issues at all, even if SharePoint can aggravate the issues, the main problems are the result of unplanned deployments and disorganized information.

While this can be said of most systems that operate in the information management space, with SharePoint the problem becomes more acute as it reaches further and further into more and more enterprises.

It is hardly surprising then, that many of the big hitting posts from this year dealt with issues around deployments, as well as organizing and accessing content across whatever version is in use in a given enterprise.

1. SharePoint's Architecture

The year began on this theme with a contribution from Steven Pogrebivsky CEO of MetaVis Technologies, who points out that even though there have been 125 million SharePoint licenses sold already -- and this at the beginning of 2012 --  most enterprises don’t understand how to implement and manage their SharePoint platforms properly.

He stressed that of all platforms, SharePoint needs the application of proper information architecture more than any. By information architecture he is talking about the way the information is grouped, the navigation methods and the terminology within the system.

2. Business Case For SharePoint as ECMS?

From that, another issue arose that clearly resonated with readers and was a theme that many writers returned to over the year in some shape or other and that was the problems associated with using SharePoint as an Enterprise CMS system. This was not the first time that we broached this subject, but this time we looked at the business case for using SharePoint as one of the principal content management systems in the enterprise.

We cited two different reports that appeared over the course of 2011, both suggested that it is being systematically used as such as adoption levels increase. So much so, that Microsoft released a white paper that month making a business case. Entitled the Business Value of Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 Enterprise Content Management and coming from Microsoft, it argued that the business advantages of using it as an enterprise CMS are considerable.

But neither it, nor any of the other reports that came out over the year, were able to tell us whether it was worth investing in SharePoint as an enterprise, as many of the individual components of Enterprise CMS can be sourced in the cloud relatively cheaply.

This is something that is definitely going to come up again in the coming year, especially with the release of SharePoint 2013.

3. SharePoint Applications: 8 Basic Steps to Success

Another issue that crept up time and time again was the problems of moving from legacy systems to SharePoint.

Joe Shepley, a regular contributor to CMSWire as well as Vice President and Practice Leader at Doculabs, took the bull by the horns and in a series of interesting and challenging posts walked us through a process which, he says, offered no silver bullets for the problem, but did make things easier.

His starting point -- and we're back to the deployment planning devil here -- is discovering what your users are going to do with it and what capabilities they require. Simple!

4. Compensating for SharePoint's Gaps

Planning is everything. In the meantime, a further question that enterprises need to answer around SharePoint was the focus on a Forrester report at the end of February. It examined whether enterprises should replace their Enterprise CMS with SharePoint, or whether they should integrate the two. This wouldn't be an issue if the level of deployment across enterprises wasn't so high -- an estimated 63% in this report -- but it is an issue and enterprises need to decide what they are going to do.

In Putting Together the SharePoint ECM Puzzle, Alan Weintraub examines the problem. As his starting point, he urges enterprises to decide what they want their Enterprise CMS to do, what SharePoint functionality covers those needs, where gaps exist in those needs and what vendors best fill in those gaps.

5.  Mobilizing SharePoint

Infragistics' Jason Beres, VP of Product Management, took a look at one of the issues that is likely to become more and more important in the coming months -- securing SharePoint on your mobile. If more enterprises are using SharePoint as a content management system, and more workers are mobile, the demand for secure, mobile access to SharePoint is going to be a top concern.

The problem, he said, is the whole SharePoint experience. SharePoint is not supported on mobile devices and users cannot upload or edit documents in SharePoint as a mobile operating system does not expose their file systems. What about security? So what to do?

6. SharePoint and Social Business

In April, Microsoft's Jared Spataro turned to another issue that is likely to carry us into the New Year -- social business and how Microsoft’s vision will impact on SharePoint.

In discussing the issue, he cited research carried out for Microsoft by Harris Interactive, which involved surveys of 202 decision makers in companies of over 1000 employees. Some of the findings are interesting and made for an interesting discussion.

Ultimately, the findings pointed to the fact that the rise of social business is going to be good for SharePoint as a social and collaborative platform.

Spataro points out however, that it's not about social for social's sake. The idea is to pull people to the center and make it about task completion. Social helps get things done, whether that's with the employee, partner or customer. And Microsoft's vision fits nicely with this.

7. SharePoint, Yammer

The acquisition of Yammer by Microsoft was one of the biggest issues of the year across the information management industry, principally because no one really knew how it was going to be used and what Microsoft was going to do with it.

For Microsoft, Yammer offered collaboration, file sharing and project management at a range of price points, with a free basic offering topping out at a US$ 15 per user, per month enterprise deal with SharePoint integration.

As such, Yammer was an easy fit for SharePoint and should offer Microsoft something that it could embed in SharePoint to widen collaboration. The jury is still out on this one, but there will definitely be more to come.

8. SharePoint 2013 Public Beta

Finally, in July Microsoft pushed SharePoint 2013 out into beta, after dumping the SharePoint 15 moniker.

It offered two ways to try it out -- as a download of SharePoint 2013 Preview or by signing up for a trial of Office 365 and trying SharePoint in the cloud. There was needless say huge excitement around it and our Managing Editor, Barb Mosher, took a look at some of the features that users were likely to find useful including sites and social templates.

9. SharePoint 2013 Features

Towards the end of the summer, we started to identify some of the features in the new release that we thought users might find particularly useful.

Andrew Bishop, who works as a principle consultant for Jacobs, where he advises clients on collaboration and social enterprise strategy, spent a while poking around SharePoint 2013 and came up with seven different features that he thought users would really go for.

His initial take is that this is a significant release with a ton of great new features to talk about. Indeed, over the months that followed, we were to see and discuss many more of them with many different people, with more discussions on this to come.

10. 35,000 Foot View of SharePoint 2013

One series of discussion that drew a lot of attention and stimulated some interesting debate was the 35,000 Foot View of SharePoint posts by Brian Alderman, a Microsoft and SharePoint specialist, who brought some new and interesting perspectives to the new release.

This series of posts focused on some expected updates in SharePoint 2013 and how they will affect various roles within your organization. It specifically focused on major changes and how they will impact administrators, developers, designers and end users.

11. SharePoint's Faults

While the world grooved on the new SharePoint release and all the fabulous new features, AIIM threw a fly in the ointment in a report that appeared to indicate that many enterprises were not, and probably are not, happy with SharePoint.

While recent research by AIIM indicates that at least 70% of organizations have deployed SharePoint in some shape or form over the past year, the way it is being used and the reasons it is being deployed in the first instance, are as many as there are enterprises using it.

Contained in AIIM’s Industry Watch series report, entitled The SharePoint Puzzle -- adding the missing pieces, the fact that so many enterprises have a SharePoint presence should not fool people into thinking that it is taking over.

Indeed, it showed that a large number of enterprises were using third party products to bolster perceived functionality weaknesses in all SharePoint editions, including SharePoint 2010.

This is something that we will be coming back to again once the 2013 release is generally available. Will it be the case that enterprises will have to do the same with SharePoint 2013? Only time will tell.

12. SharePoint 2013: Six Mobile Features

Before leaving SharePoint for this year, it is worth going back to mobile SharePoint and in particular, mobile SharePoint 2013.

Long-time CMSWire contributor and Director of SharePoint Platform Services at Hyperion Global Partners, Mike Ferrara, took a look at some of the cool mobile functionality that comes with the new version.

He had no particular kind of user in mind when he came up with these, but...well who cares. He described the list as just a general overview of how Microsoft is adding to the feature set of SharePoint 2013. The list is ranked based on his opinion of relevance and value to the organization.

And that's where we'll leave it for this year. We'll be jumping right back into SharePoint once the New Year starts kicking.