February 26, 2014

​When it Comes to Information Management With SharePoint, You Get What You Want

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By Dave Martin
Feb 26 2014

Once again I raise my opinionated head to write something just before the big show. Of course the big show I refer to in this instance is none other than SharePoint Conference 2014 (SPC 2014). On the topic of big I wanted to discuss something I have been discussing for the last seven years: The SharePoint Big Picture.

When I first started talking about some of the things you could do to extend and enhance SharePoint I was all about records management. I eventually graduated from this very specific niche to the much broader realm of information governance – a term that still remains as vacuous as ever, much to the delight of information governance professionals such as myself. And then I went whole hog, and espoused on SharePoint as THE information management platform, no longer a contender in a market rich in history, but the ideal leader that reenergized a staid and stale set of solutions (RM, ECM, WCM, DAM, BPM and all the other acronyms) that just about every organization has owned for the last 15 years but never actually benefitted from. Not only this, but SharePoint looked across a sea of failures and said: we can do this better, and we can do this for everyone; focusing and reemphasizing that without the end-user’s acceptance this technology could never succeed.

So here I am again, looking at what SharePoint has become, and many times through my career I have indeed thought, this picture could not possibly get any bigger… but once again, it has.

For a little over a year now, Microsoft has been squarely focused on what they call The Four Megatrends: Cloud, Social, Mobile and Big Data. It would be fair to say, very few organizations have the type of focus Microsoft has when it comes to driving into markets, but at the same time, they have a long standing model that embraces partners when focused functionality is required. As stated a million times: SharePoint is a platform. More so, SharePoint is a platform for Cloud, social, mobile and big data.

I have found when talking to people about SharePoint that their challenges are also very focused. One thing I try and do is ask questions to see if there are other challenges that their focus (blinders) has not let them see. Once I have a good idea of their actual list of problems I ask them to tell me about a day in the life in their organization and how they are using SharePoint from their perspective. Then I ask them to tell me the same story from the perspective of a records manager, legal professional, someone from finance, someone from HR, and lastly (and most importantly) a typical end-user. Once the colour comes back to their cheeks I tell them it’s okay, we hug, and then say that SharePoint can actually help them do a lot more than they think. Their response is identical every time: I didn’t think SharePoint could do that.

Did you know that Azure can be used as an archive for SharePoint content to overcome any data size/volume issues you were told you might have? Did you know that OneDrive for Business (formerly SkyDrive Pro) is the exact same type of Cloud sharing tool as Box or Dropbox, but is actually connected to the rest of your infrastructure and not yet another silo’d repository that IT has zero control over? Did you know Yammer looks and feels and operates just like Facebook, but ties together people and process in a way that makes sense and drives real-time efficiencies in the enterprise? Did you know that SharePoint can connect back to one of the most powerful business intelligence solutions available today to drive big data value from content in Dynamics… or SAP? Did you know that there is a SharePoint app for that?

In a way I wish everyone could come to SPC 2014, to see what SharePoint can actually do. And I don’t mean what it can just do out of the box (which is already impressive enough), but go and see what Microsoft’s vast array of partners are bringing to this ever expanding platform. The beauty of the model Microsoft has put together is that you aren’t subjected to the given capabilities of a traditional information management platform provider, you get a choice in the matter, you get to pick from a variety of solution options from a number of companies that are dedicated to a specific solution practice. If you hear, “that’s how we do it,” and you don’t like that way, well stroll on down to the next booth and see if the next SharePoint platform vendor has what you want. We all talk about flexible solutions, well flexibility means being able to make choices and the SharePoint ecosystem is chock-full of choices. You don’t get what you get, you get what you want.

If you ever thought SharePoint was just a vehicle to vendor lock-in, if you ever thought that all you can get is what comes out-of-the-box, think again, this isn’t a best-of-breed solution, this is a platform that breeds the best solutions… this isn’t your Dad’s EIM.

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