2012 - Ready or Not

By Mike Alsup posted 01-01-2012 17:37


Today is the first day of 2012.  Like other pontificators, this is a good day for me to summarize 2011 and pronounce on 2012.  Here is some of what I saw in 2011 in the world of Content Management, Records Management and SharePoint:

  • Lots of SharePoint Adoption.  At the SharePoint Conference in October in Anaheim, Jeff Teper said that there were now 65,000 customers and 125,000,000 users of SharePoint.  Wow.  On the one hand, that is a lot of SharePoint sites.  On the other hand, what I saw was mainly collaboration sites and intranets and lightweight knowledge management.  Lots of enthusiasm for the possibilities of SharePoint and a clear intention to use it for enterprise content and records management. 
  • Lots of Infrastructure Consolidation.  What I saw in the field was mainly focused on infrastructure consolidation to SharePoint 2010 from both SharePoint 2003 and MOSS 2007.  Some migration of share drives and legacy content management platforms to SharePoint, but more emphasis on getting administrative governance and application development standards in place. 
  • Waiting to See on SharePoint Records Management.  As a provider of records management solutions for SharePoint, we naturally would have wanted to see wholesale adoption of SharePoint as a repository for records.  But we didn’t.  We saw lots of tire kicking and retention schedule updates and people who wanted to do it.  But mainly, they wanted to understand best practices from other organizations that had done it first. 

Here is what I expect in 2012:

  • Records Management 2.0.  The beauty of SharePoint for records management is that it enables transparent records management on a platform that users want to use.  With proper infrastructure, architecture and standards, records management can be implemented in SharePoint team sites without users needing to understand the intricacies of their file plans and retention schedules.  With the proper implementation of SharePoint content types and an information lifecycle that is provisioned on an enterprise basis, all that users need to do is select a content type and then either a user or an application needs to declare a piece of content “final” at the right point in the lifecycle.  Everything else can be done behind the scenes. 

We call this Records Management 2.0 (RM 2.0) to distinguish it from the generations of RM implementations that failed for want of user adoption.  The RM 2.0 approach is more about content types and the information lifecycle than it is about whether SharePoint is the repository of record.  Other ECM suites have achieved similarly transparent records management, and many of the best enterprise implementations of RM 2.0 in SharePoint have been built on the legacy ECM Suites as the repositories of record, but they almost never had the level of user adoption to propel it through the enterprise.  I expect that 2012 will see accelerating adoption of SharePoint both for content governance in team sites and as an enterprise repository for records.

  • Content Enabled Vertical Applications.  Here is a blast from the past.  Enterprise content governance in SharePoint enables an application platform for what Gartner once labeled Content Enabled Vertical Applications.  Large organizations have been wanting to establish a consistent platform for the management of their unstructured content in applications that they could easily integrate with their ERP and LOB systems, but as soon as they got something in place, the platform or the standards became unstable.  ECM Suites were just too expensive to build the hundreds or thousands of applications that would make up an enterprise of governed content.  But, the overwhelming adoption of SharePoint has finally overcome the issue of what is the platform.  Microsoft calls these Composite Applications.  Whatever.  SharePoint wins. 
  • Getting Ready to Not Care about the Cloud.  Here is where I am out on a limb.  I hear a great deal about “the Cloud”.  I think it is a data center where someone else pays for the electricity.  There are public data centers, private data centers that you don’t own, and on premise data centers that you do own (unless you have sold them to an outsourcer).  The issue is what standards are used for building, accessing and managing applications in each environment.  In the world of SharePoint, the product is different in the cloud and on premise because of limitations on what can be deployed in the cloud and how it needs to be deployed.  There are many SharePoint applications that provide great value that can’t be deployed in the Microsoft Clouds (Microsoft private cloud solutions, Windows Azure, Office 365) because of product limitations.  If Microsoft enabled these applications to be more easily deployed in their clouds, and their customers could deploy their SharePoint applications similarly in each of the three environments, then the decisions on how and where to host would be based on economics and deployment strategy instead of the limitations of SharePoint in the clouds.  I am not sure if Microsoft gets there in 2012, but leveling this field has to be their goal. 

It has been a long time since I was this excited about an upcoming year.  See you in the field. 

#ElectronicRecordsManagement #SharePoint