SharePoint and Multi-repository Content Governance in 2014

By Michael Alsup posted 02-22-2014 18:12


We have been working with many large organizations lately trying to figure out what is happening in the markets for SharePoint and multi-repository content governance. Our conclusions, with which many reasonable folks in the AIIM Communities will disagree, is that while there will be many winners in this market, solutions based on SharePoint will win the largest market share. We believe that this win will be Hybrid, not just Cloud-based or just On-Premise SharePoint in the next three years.

Here is our logic: First, there has been too much investment in customizing SharePoint On-Premise to easily migrate existing On-Premises SharePoint solutions into Office 365 and the App (Client Side Object or CSOM) Model. According to our teams, the development and implementation trade-offs are challenging and a full App model migration for an organization with thousands of customized SharePoint On-Premise sites is a very significant undertaking. This might be more practical in the future, and we are looking for an update in this area at next week’s SharePoint Conference in Vegas.

Some of our clients have heard the message that SharePoint going away. It may be true that SharePoint On-Premise (which is an API model, not a location) will be deprecated eventually (over the next 3-5 years). I believe that, to the extent that this happens, it will be in favor of on-site Azure and an App Model foundation in SharePoint On-Premise, not just in Office 365 and the cloud.

The fact that Windows 8 is not winning the BYOD competition could be useful in this evolution. SharePoint is competing at one level against the simplicity of storing documents in Box and Dropbox, and at another level against the complexity of building solutions in legacy ECM platforms like Open Text and Documentum. SharePoint wins as an ECM repository by being the right combination of powerful, useful and easy in between these extremes. This requires that the SharePoint user experience is as good from iOS and Android Apps as it is from Windows 8.X Apps. This also requires that Microsoft delivers a compelling version of Microsoft Office (including Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Outlook especially) to iOS and Android. Microsoft has announced that this is coming, just not as quickly as many of our clients want.

In a way, SharePoint wins because it is practically impossible to fully govern SharePoint from the outside. Governance has to include list and calendar items, forms, folder structures, and the sites themselves. It has to include linking events in SharePoint to foreign applications, integration with legacy SharePoint sites, and support through multiple unrelated product lifecycles. The SharePoint environment evolves too quickly to synch with and govern SharePoint content by exporting it from SharePoint. SharePoint wins as it increases the percentage of content that organizations store and collaborate on that is contained in in SharePoint. SharePoint clearly doesn’t win in organizations that don’t use it at all, but this is a minority of organizations according to many AIIM, Gartner and Forrester references.

As the App model prevails, legacy ECM vendors will need to make significant investments to move their products to fully multi-tenant clouds with full BYOD App model support in order to compete.An App model win does not mean legacy ECM sites and solutions are retired quickly. The challenge is that enterprise architecture standards and IT policy are capping their opportunity by trying (somewhat unsuccessfully) to limit the number of multiple and diverse repositories in which important content is stored in an organization.

Our clients are figuring out how to provision and manage and govern Hybrid SharePoint sites consistently, so that temporary collaboration sites can be provisioned in the cloud and the hard and permanent stuff will remain On-Premises. The cost of storage in the cloud is not necessarily going to be less than On-Premise for large organizations. Costs come in many categories, and records in the cloud make lawyers nervous. This may change in the future, but we hear this concern frequently.

Hybrid SharePoint requires tools for provisioning and metadata inheritance and information lifecycle and enterprise-scaled content governance that enable content and information policy to move seamlessly between the cloud and On-Premise according to the requirements of the organization. A Policy Hub Service (such as those provided by Autonomy or RSD or based on extensions of SharePoint information policies) will federate information policies to all of the relevant content repositories for their enforcement. Hybrid SharePoint becomes hidden SharePoint. It needs to have an easy-to-like, Box-like interface using consistent App’s across iOS, Android, and Windows 8.X. Users will pick content types (or they will be assigned using auto-classification tools) and save documents in their daily processes. Cheryl McKinnon of Forrester had a fine report on ecosystem add-ons for SharePoint content governance last week. 

ECM could become an enterprise unstructured content management dial-tone that a few IT folks manage, like Local Area Networks did in the 1980s or word processing products did in the 1990s. It becomes part of the standard technology infrastructure that users depend on.

Will this happen in 2014? 2015? Hard to tell. It is the direction of investment that counts.

I get that some of this is controversial.

Comments are welcome.

#cloud #ECM #ElectronicRecordsManagement #SharePoint #HybridSharePoint #InformationGovernance #sharepoint #Collaboration