Thought it might be useful to go a little "back to basics" to help folks understand why SharePoint is so powerful and has become so ingrained in organizations.
Let's start by looking at the ECM market c. 2006. Most of the current ECM suites had just become so through a seemingly endless series of mergers & acquisitions - and most of the point solutions that make up the ECM stack (document management, records management, workflow, and so forth) had been on the acquired end of those deals. A tool called SharePoint 2003 was on the market focused on portals and document management.
And then in 2007 everything changed. SharePoint 2007 was released with significant enhancements to, and focus on, ECM capabilities. It got DoD5015.2-certified for records management. It significantly improved its workflow capabilities and enterprise search capabilities. It introduced social capabilities like blogs and wikis. And it leveraged the already impressive SharePoint partner ecosystem to fill in specific gaps and niches. SharePoint 2007 was impressive enough to organizations that Microsoft sold an unheard-of 100 million seats.
But the most significant difference between SharePoint 2007 and the big ECM suites then was not the capabilities SharePoint provided, whether its own or through its partners. And it certainly wasn't scalability. Rather, the most significant difference, and the reason it was able to bring ECM to the masses, was its relative ease of use and simplicity. This is not to say that mastering SharePoint is an afternoon's affair; rather, it's that in comparison to some of the other solutions available, SharePoint is *easier* and *simpler* for end users and to significant extent for administrators. After all, much of the provisioning that IT has to do for ECM suites can be done by individual site administrators or owners without IT's assistance. (Yes, this can be a bad thing. More on that, and the need for SharePoint governance, in a future post.)
SharePoint 2010 is an evolution of SharePoint that continues along the path of relative ease of use, simplicity, and flexibility. In my next SharePoint for ECM post we'll take a look at the six capabilities of SharePoint 2010 and what they mean to organizations.
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Interested in using SharePoint to automate records management processes? Check out our white paper here
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