What SharePoint Means for Business? Pundits Weigh In#SharePointSym

What better way to start the day than by asking some of the best known SharePoint experts about SharePoint? This morning SharePoint Symposium started with a Pundit Debate in which Tony Byrne, Mary-Foley and Martin White shared their thoughts on SharePoint today and its impact on the technology sector. Here's what we learned.

What Does SharePoint Bring to Business?

Many of the questions centered around the idea that SharePoint 2013, while providing much needed features and functionality to existing SharePoint users, doesn’t offer enough incentives for non-users to convert and subscribe. As a result, Office 365 may be the best tool to help show off SharePoint functionality via a lite version, which is much easier to implement and use.

When it comes to the digital workplace, which has ultimately changed the way people work, engage and collaborate with one another from remote locations, what does SharePoint bring to the conversation? While SharePoint itself cannot make you better at embracing a digital workplace culture, Tony Byrne (Real Story Group) suggests that there things developers and managers can do to integrate it better. He says that SharePoint needs to become the object, not the subject of the conversation -- that way, it’s not an afterthought, but rather a driver of innovation.

Furthermore, the issue of SharePoint in the digital workplace is affected more by the challenges of enterprise information management than by the actual product itself. In other words, it’s not SharePoint’s fault that you don’t have a better information governance strategy in place.

Editor's Note: Also from the SharePoint Symposium: Knowledge Networks, Content Intelligence and The Zen of SharePoint #SharePointSym

The Culture of SharePoint

However, while SharePoint is not likely to overtly influence your organizational culture, there are things it can do to help. Mary-Jo Foley (ZDNet) suggested that after speaking to some super users, Microsoft may not be as forthcoming with information or employing fewer open communication channels with users. This may or may not be strategic so they can adopt the secretive aura trademarked by Apple and others. However, I have noticed that communication has improved greatly by those companies recently acquired by Microsoft (i.e. Yammer and Skype), which could one day be integrated into SharePoint.

Those in attendance (in person and online) seemed to agree that while secrecy may work for gaming and personal devices, it doesn’t necessarily instill confidence in those having to deploy and install enterprise applications, which often need details to plan accordingly.

SharePoint Now & Later

Effectively preparing your company for SharePoint deployment can be the difference between high and low user adoption. So, what does an ideal SharePoint team and deployment look like? It wasn't easy for the pundits to describe it, because just as SharePoint is never all things to all businesses, it depends on who you are, what your users do and the scale at which you’re deploying.

However, most agreed that having a leader that champions the user experience is critical. Additionally, successfully planning for SharePoint requires not just a focus on the present, but what your users will be doing and how your organization will look three years from now (you know, when the next SharePoint update is released). In fact, if you’re a self-described Intranet Manager, it may be your time to embrace a larger role advocating for the practical things that users need to get done today.

I was surprised to learn about the implications SharePoint has or can have on organizational culture. SharePoint is a platform, not a magic solution that will suddenly transform your company into an enterprise collaboration and information management powerhouse. There is still much work to be done before you deploy, subscribe or update.