In the not too distant future, I predict SharePoint will disappear altogether. It might take a year, maybe a little longer. But at some point soon it will be gone.
Let me explain, I’m referring to the word "SharePoint," the name, the brand we have grown accustomed to over the years. I’m not talking about the product, which I’m sure will be with us and going strong for many years to come.
Why do I think this will happen? Well look at the Office 365 refresh that is currently rolling out to users everywhere. The preview screen for new users talks about Office 365, Office, Lync and Outlook. But not SharePoint. More significantly the main navigation (top right) lists the following items:
Again, no SharePoint. Now many of us know that some of these elements are in fact SharePoint. They use SharePoint sites and SharePoint functionality. But the word or branding isn't used.Even when I head fully into a site, and start to explore the pure SharePoint component of Office 365, I still don’t see the word SharePoint. It’s only really once I get into settings and configuration that the word first appears.
Why is this significant? Well the word SharePoint, for good or bad, is an established concept that conjures up specific images in peoples minds. It says "Intranet" to many, "CMS" to some, "Microsoft enterprise platform" to others. People do know SharePoint, it is an established brand. So any move away from it by Microsoft must be an intentional shift. But why?
SharePoint is very much the glue in Office 365. It is the technology that ties everything together, that makes things work. It isn't Outlook, which Microsoft is very much still behind as a brand (hence outlook.com and the move away from Hotmail), nor is it Office 365 which is the headline brand for much of Microsoft's cloud strategy.
It seems Microsoft is happy to let these brands live on, and relegate SharePoint to more of a background role. This kind of makes sense. After all, do many people know what Google Apps is built on, or Box.net? Do they think of LinkedIn, or Salesforce.com as a technology brand first? No.
A few versions back SharePoint was brought into the Office family, after starting out with the Windows Server team. This move is the natural conclusion of this step. Microsoft is banking on the power of Office to bring people (consumers and enterprises alike) to the cloud. Office might just do it, SharePoint not so much.
So I predict in a year or so SharePoint will drift out of view in Office 365. The technology will live on, as the workhorse platform many of us know and love. But people will talk of sites, Intranets and pages in Office 365, without giving a thought to SharePoint. And really is that a bad thing? Probably not.
Image courtesy of Sashkin (Shutterstock)
Editor's Note: Always provocative, Chris Wright gets the SharePoint conversations going. Read more: SharePoint 2013 Needs Less Features, Not More