Talking about SharePoint with as mixed a group of people as we did last week in our SharePoint in the Enterprise tweet jam was both entertaining and enlightening. There was wide agreement on some of the questions, as well widely differing opinions on others. Here's a summary:

If you are interested in seeing the list of panelists who participated in our Tweet jam on August 17, you can check that out. But when the time came, there were plenty more tuning in to provide their own insights.

Before we kicked things off officially, we defined "enterprise" as organizations with greater than 100 employees. The point we wanted to make was that we were more interested in SharePoint use in any organizations regardless of size.

1. Describe SharePoint's place in the enterprise in 2011?

 So where does SharePoint fit in the enterprise? The responses were varied, but a majority saw it as a central hub, a framework/platform to support a wide variety of needs. Of course, as Jennifer Mason pointed out, it really depends on the needs of the organization.

@mwherman2000: Q1 I think of SharePoint as an Enterprise Hub for almost everything that happens in a company

@ln_sitecore: Q1: #SharePoint is an ECM Infrastructure to manage business processes in the enterprise

@robhoward: Q1 SharePoint's place in the enterprise? A key piece of an enterprise's IW investment

@arslogica: Q1 Is SharePoint the software version of the water cooler + white board + conference table – a place to huddle and brainstorm?

@danieloleary: Q1 A dinosaur, not capable of meeting the demands of mobility or external collaboration. Reflects old business models

@rkoplowitz: Q1 #eimchat content-centric middleware offering applications and dev platform

@lptacek: Q1: SharePoint is an effective way for Office users to share documents and collaborate.

@peteiuvara: Q1: in essence what you have is a framework, a portal platform for collaboration 

@The_D_Martin: Q1 for the Enterprise SharePoint is something we tie into the overall content infrastructure to help tie it all together

@yaacovc: Q1 #EIMChat SharePoint connects people and documents in the enterprise > Let's not forget SharePoint is the Office server.

@jennifermason: The answer to Q1 really depends on the goals of the organization. Each has unique needs. Some may focus on one area over another.

@cawprhyd: @cmswire #Q1 SharePoint 2010 is a possible solution for RIM (but the org must understand its limitations, too)

@spgenie: #EIMChat Q1 SP is key factor in disseminating information within an organization through collaboration, centralization, and management

@piewords: A1: #SharePoint is a fact of life that is being stretched too far, but isn't necessarily evil.

2. Your most important advice for success with SharePoint?

In a nutshell to be successful with SharePoint, "success = Governance + Strategy + Adoption + Architecture" perfectly summed up by Symon Garfield. There really was no argument that proper planning and strategy were crucial and that governance and adoption are a top priority.

The key is that the technology should not come first, the requirements should. Get your ducks in a row, then decide how SharePoint best fills the need (if it does at all).

@SharePoint: Q2: Define the business need FIRST and then explore how #SharePoint will help achieve the goal (RR)

@davecoleman146: Q2: #EIMCHAT Give people a reason to go there

@Perficient_MSFT: Q2: Solicit input from key stakeholders and users across the enterprise as you define SharePoint requirements.

@rkoplowitz: Q2 #eimchat, strategy, strategy, strategy, plan for functional rollout, ensure oragnizational readiness, align with business goals

@symon_garfield: q2 #eimchat - 10% tools, 20% processes and 70% people #sharepoint success

@nickinglis: #EIMchat Focus on business case for SharePoint and then shift focus to a user adoption strategy

@jenaysellers: Q2: think adoption. People need a reason to use #SharePoint. Make sure you have a plan, business goals, etc defined b4 jumping in.

@jennifermason: #EIMCHAT you need to Think Big, Start Small and keep growing. This will help with adoption and implementation.

@emarkconsulting: Q2 - Technology is 10% of your project. Don't underestimate the business and the remaining 90%.

@arslogica: Q2 Want to lose $500k and 12 months? Try building process-intensive enterprise apps on top of SharePoint.

3. SharePoint's top strengths as Social Business explodes?

The responses to this question took two forms. First those who looked at SharePoint's strengths from a business perspective:

@robhoward: Q3: SharePoint's top strength? Market penetration and presence. It seems to be everywhere

@drewdillon_et: Q3 Platform & reach. MSFT can’t do everything, they empower developers & $500+ billion partner ecosystem.

@jholston: Q3 Seriously, it's ubiquitous; > 100 mill paid seats, 20k new users per day last 5 years. plus on prem, cloud, & hybrid options

@pmpinsights: Q3 #eimchat strength is TCO & value of SharePoint as a complete platform with many capabilities…often replacing expensive legacy apps.

@nickinglis: #Q3 #EIMchat SharePoint has the ability to utilize collaboration as a business competitive advantage (if done properly)

 and those who looked at it from a functionality perspective:

@meetdux: q3: integration with MS Office is a top strength and differentiator

@yaacovc: Q3 #EIMCHAT the top strength of SharePoint is its integration with MS Office but is also the weakness of SharePoint.

@jennifermason: Q3: Familiarity. The more users are using SharePoint the easier it becomes. One tool for multiple purposes

@s_tindall: Q3 #EIMChat SP provides a controlled platform for social collaboration

4. SharePoint's biggest weakness as Social Business explodes?

 Many pointed to its social capabilities as a weakness, others said that driving adoption of social is hard and still others pointed to SharePoint's mobile experience. In this case, the wide range of partners, who offer integrated social capabilities that enhance what SharePoint offers out of the box, come in very handy.

@ln_sitecore: Q4: The social apps in #SharePoint are not social business, only a part of it. Ergo, SharePoint is ill suited for social business

@lptacek: The world outside the Microsoft universe. RT @cmswire: Q4: What are SharePoint's biggest weakness as Social Business explodes?

@nickinglis: #Q4 #EIMchat external collaboration. there are tools that do the work faster, better and with more ease than SP right now.

@robhoward: Q4: Perception that SharePoint can do everything.

@rkoplowitz: q4 #eimchat sharepoint is part of a social business strategy

@NazParker01: Q4 Biggest Weakness is business wants to lump everything in SP. WSS caused this! Everyone thinks it free and easy to do

@joeloleson: Q4: SP Weakness on Social Biz: 3 year release cycle for the shrink wrapped box. It's also a strength for IT

@SharePoint: Q4: 1 challenge for the whole industry is driving adoption of social features. Changing corp. culture is always a tall order.

@yaacovc: Q4: SP weakness on Social Biz: no support of SharePoint on iOS and Android platforms, no open activity stream on SharePoint.

@peteiuvara: Q4: website branding challenges, licensing, non-AD user provisioning and mgmt, limited eCMS features compared to CMS platforms

@emarkconsulting: Q4 - the larger issue is creating a social strategy that brings users back to SPT and away from external tools and sources.

5. Trends or technologies that threaten SharePoint's place in the enterprise?

SharePoint is very tight in the enterprise. It's everywhere and in most cases is seen as the software platform to beat. In fact many organizations compare other solutions to SharePoint. But that doesn't mean that SharePoint will be dominant forever. So we asked what things could treaten its place. 

@mrackley: Q5: #EIMChat End Users

@WonderLaura: Q5: Google likes to think they're a competitor, but I don't think they truly are.

@cawprhyd: @cmswire #Q5: For IT & RIM, the view should be "simple is elegant". SharePoint is not simple.

@danieloleary: Q5 MOBILE. I need apps that work across all my devices and just work. SP isn't keeping pace with the cloud and mobility

@pmpinsights: Q5 #eimchat Not sure an alternative exists that offers same value & capabilities as a complete platform.

@robhoward: Q5: I don't think underlying technology really matters as it used to. Only IT cares and biz is usually driving conversation.

@pmpinsights: Q5 #eimchat Adoption, change, and budget constraints certainly impacts success and threatens SP's place.

@s_tindall: Q5 #EIMChat A lack of user adoption - need people pushing it's use in all business areas within the enterprise, not just IT

6. The biggest challenge for organizations using SharePoint this year?

We didn't actually get to this question, the discussions coming before took up all of our time. But we did leave people with the opportunity to provide their final thoughts as they signed off. Here are some of those.

@koplowitz: Q6 #eimchat biggest challenging will be expanding usage from collab/portal core to breadth of capabities to leverage investment

@emarkconsulting: Q6 - Biggest issue -- Adoption. Communicate, Collaborate and Coordinate. Talk to everyone and make sure you have support/buy-in.

@RogerMorrisUK: RT Finding great people who know SP and Biz ! Q6 @cmswire what is biggest challenge for orgs using SP?

@chrisgeier: RT @NazParker01: Q6 Biggest Challenge is Adoption! Once they have it, they don't use it correctly. Education is key! #EIMChat (Agree!)

@cawprhyd: @cmswire #Q6 the rules = simple for end users & architecturally sophisticated, including the right algorithms...can SPt take it?

@arslogica: Q6 Biggest challenge for orgs using SP? The economy!

Joel Oleson's tweet may sum up what Microsoft itself is thinking:

@joeloleson: SharePoint is on great trajectory. To survive it needs to continue to innovate, and it's doing very well.

You can view the full archive of the tweet jam, there are plenty more interesting thoughts in there, including a lively discussion on vs SharePoint.

Thanks to all that attended and our great panelists.