Many Happy Returns on 2011 SharePoint Investments

By Marc Solomon posted 12-23-2010 19:40


The lame duck Congress had just tackled an entire term's worth of legislation and I heard one pundit say "it's time to get out of the prediction business." It is amazing what a public shaming and self-preservation can accomplish together in such a short time. However, nothing fogs our crystal balls more than a packed agenda squeezed into a tight deadline. If we want a foreseeable future that comes true in ways we helped shape we should throw down our cards. Call a spade a spade. That's right. Invest big time on SharePoint '10 in '11. 

The biggest impediment to creativity is stress. When people are stressed out dexterity is compromised. Options disappear. Capital is hoarded and scarcities become self-fulfilling. Nothing tightens muscles and reflexes like a constricting economy. Entire sections of the brain go dark when survival instincts commandeer the same animal spirits that would otherwise be unleashed on new innovations and markets.
To us denizens of the greater SharePoint Republic this community has functioned as both safe harbor and life boat when the relentless cost-cutting of the great recession threw cold water on the most practical and well-grounded development initiatives and expansion plans. The lights stayed on amid limited resources, talent shortages, and MOSS's own systemic shortcomings as a development platform.
The natural pause in the ECM development cycle has one sustaining lesson for all of us this holiday pause before we floor the 2011 pedal. Let's bring over our best thinking without the bad habits we swore to break for good.
Let's expire the inertia-laden lifecycles that suck the creative spirit dry from our project teams. Most importantly let's be sure that SharePoint 2010 is working for us and not the reverse. If all the upgrade represents is old wine in new bottles we are being used by the tool -- not using it to operationalize enfeebled, warn-out, and yet critical business processes.
Here's how the new bottling translates into the planning of our own rollout in 2011:
1) ARCHITECTURE -- No more separate team sites and libraries for every client: What's the point of unifying your document collections when they spawn another set of stovepipes (some of which never get utilized while others pile on multiple copies of the same source!) Forecast: Better search and taxonomy tools will make adoption of search-driven ECMs the norm and site-driven intranets as appetizing as yesterday's lunch menu.
2) STORAGE -- No more guessing about where to put things: Configure Content Organizer to tear down the walls between local drives and SharePoint. Forecast: The "save as" function will now infer the expectation to "save as something my team can access and leverage."
3) METADATA -- Enable users to express their work without the guess work: Design architecture around controlled vocabularies (taxonomies) and top-of-mind association (folksonomies). Forecast: We will defeat the false argument that the enterprise needs to choose one approach at the expense of the other.
4) SOCIAL MEDIA -- Transform the emailization of SharePoint from a repository to a home for idea-sharing, outpost for activity streams, and meeting place for project collaboration. Forecast: Call it personalization, call it Facebook behind the firewall. Either way we are no longer separating tasks (email) from outputs (CMS).
5) WORKFLOW -- Introduce backend systems to SharePoint: Top-of-to-do-list -- Script content types so that document properties auto-populate from the details buried in our accounting systems to our cement-encased silos (-- two complementary data stores that can't be seen talking to each other!) Forecast: More fun than a barrel full of browser cookies filling in the blanks on my state registry of motor vehicles site.
Happy holidays to AIIM, fellow bloggers, and the greater SharePoint Republic. The prediction business may be tanking. But those New Year's resolutions may be worth keeping for ourselves and sharing with the communities we serve. If we face the coming year with that resolve, our wish lists and to-do lists will become one in the same.

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