Is SharePoint an Obstacle in Your Organization?

By Rich Blank posted 01-05-2012 16:57


With all the hype around everything "social" today, SharePoint is sometimes portrayed in a negative light and an obstacle to enabling collaboration.  Competitive pure play social vendors want to blame the tool, point out SharePoint's short-comings, and hype their own products as new and different.   Yet is new and different really any better?  Is SharePoint really the obstacle?  Or are the real obstacles your enterprise IT department’s inability to quickly respond to business demands and the inertia of large organizations to change culture?   

Let’s be honest, who doesn't love new and different?   However, at some point the euphoria of new and different wears off and the reality of simply getting work done sets in.  The politics and organizational issues continue.   The reality of security, compliance, legal and risk still place the same constraints, corporate hurdles, and boundaries on businesses.  It's too easy to blame technology and point the finger at SharePoint as an obstacle.  It’s really difficult for an IT department to look in the mirror and realize they have issues with providing "collaboration as a service" and delivery of projects in general.  It's easy to compartmentalize something like social business and view new and different features/functions as the answer.  Yet, it's really hard to take a holistic look at information management across the enterprise and determine how social fits into the big picture.  Even harder is for an organization's leadership is to admit they need to change or die a slow painful death like Kodak, Borders, or Blockbuster.  

The fact is that all organizations have legacy systems that include team sites, intranets (news/information), and ECM systems. These systems are mostly siloed "islands" today and SharePoint may exist in this sea of digital information (such as the primary place for team sites and documents).   As organizations begin to introduce social technology to mirror the explosion of the consumer social web, new and different solutions seem attractive and easy at first.  However, you can't simply look at "social" as an isolated project or technology --- meaning the organization buys into marketing hype and purchases yet another siloed application thinking it will connect all the islands.   Simply introducing another tool from another vendor or replacing one vendor with another doesn't solve any of the current problems that exist around information management, culture, and delivery.  

I get it….the business wants what it wants and they want it now.  They don’t want to wait for corporate IT to get out of its own way   However, one of things that business users overlook as they rush into the hype of social is the underlying holistic architectural vision and basic information management principles when it comes to content management, collaboration and electronic communications.  The nature of business today requires us all to focus on compliance, retention, security, privacy governance, operations and support, delivery, and change management, etc...   The harsher reality is that we also need to focus on the total cost of ownership of collaboration as a service across the organization.   And if you holistically look at the problems that organizations large and small have ... standardizing on a single technology platform makes the most economic sense and reduces the total cost of ownership of everything including social collaboration.  

Bottom line is that SharePoint is not the obstacle.  SharePoint has simply forced organizations to focus on real underlying information management, governance, compliance, service delivery, and cultural change issues at scale.  In fact, if you view things holistically, the vast Microsoft ecosystem provides all the capabilities, security, and compliance required for effective communication, collaboration, news/information, team sites, communities, social, search, ECM at an attractive total cost of ownership.   In a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) and more open business world, we need to be talking about where information lives and how it is managed and secured across the organization.  We need to be talking about collaboration as a service and how organizations can deliver better capabilities to users.   Social feature are quickly becoming commoditized and we now need to take a hard look at information management across the enterprise.   If we don’t, "big data" becomes even bigger with each passing year....and the information mess most organizations have today will become even messier.   

#SharePoint #social #sharepoint #microsoft #SocialBusiness