There's been an interesting theme running through the blogs and Twitter conversations of late identifying a shift, perhaps, of content and focus around the SharePoint platform, moving from IT Pro and Developer-centric to Business User-centric. Is this an intentional shift, a natural progression, or both?
Think about where we are in the platform lifecycle: SharePoint 2010 went RTM in May of 2010, with a refresh expected in 2012 (because you CAN'T release a product in 2013, oh no!), and the major Microsoft conferences and events up to now have largely been focused on deployment and integration and expansion of partner solutions. Now that things are a bit more mature, with SP1 available and most enterprises who have or plan to deploy SharePoint are solidifying those plans, there is a natural shift happening in the content and dialog around the platform toward productivity and business value, i.e. we have this thing in-house, we've spent the money, now -- how do we get the most value out of our investment?
While this line of dialog has always been there, it has clearly intensified these past few months. SharePoint continues to be the latest Microsoft juggernaut, with most of the Fortune 1000 either on the platform or planning to deploy it to some degree. But with that momentum -- and here's my opinion of where the shift is happening in the content -- many IT Managers are starting to understand what we've been trying to tell them for a couple years now, that SharePoint is not (necessarily) just plug and play, that you need to do the proper planning to get the most value out of it, and that the business and the end users should drive the direction of the platform, not the IT team.
Microsoft has done a brilliant job at marketing SharePoint. They gave it away for free (WSS) and hooked us all on a quick and easy collaboration platform. We built little productivity solutions for our teams on top of simple lists, libraries, workflows and InfoPath forms. We wanted more and more, and then found that getting things to scale was not so out-of-the-box. The tendency is to turn to IT to solve these problems, to make the system "performant" (which is not a real word, btw, but one attributed to Microsoft). While it makes sense for IT to think about scale and performance and centralized services and all of the other back-end wheels and knobs and trinkets to keep the system running, but SharePoint truly is an end use platform in which The Business should be driving how it is being used, what features are to be deployed, and how fast the system should scale. Because at the end of the day, SharePoint is just a tool in the tool belt, a way to get more work done, faster, and in a better way.
Is there a shift happening in the content and dialog around the SharePoint community? I think so, and it is a much needed change. It's about time we stopped talking about IOPS and client library assemblies, and starting thinking about how the business can decrease costs and improve efficiencies. #ITPro
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