I’m in the middle of a series of posts throwing my hat in the ring and offering my best guess at what might be next for SharePoint.
The Microsoft community has been abuzz in the last few weeks as we seem to be nearing some tangible news about what the next version of SharePoint will look like—needless to say, speculation about what the folks in Redmond might be planning (or not planning) for SharePoint 2013 is running rampant.
With the next release, there are some opportunity areas for SharePoint—and where Microsoft decides to go will have critical implications for current and future SharePoint customers:
- Will SharePoint’s records management capabilities finally be ready for prime time?
- Will SharePoint offer fully-functioning integration with capture technology?
- Will SharePoint provide more robust workflow capabilities to go beyond basic document-centric processes?
- Will SharePoint evolve into a true social business tool?
- Will SharePoint 365 overcome the limitations of BPOS?
In the first three posts I addressed core ECM functionality (records management, capture, and workflow), but today I’ll be stepping outside of traditional ECM and into social business functionality, an area that SharePoint is the industry leader or laggard in, depending on who you ask!
#4. Will SharePoint evolve into a true social business tool?
The problem: SharePoint’s social business capabilities, a category that’s relatively new compared to capture, workflow, and records management. Despite that, it’s one of the main things folks will tell you they’re interested in using SharePoint for, so where Microsoft goes with 2013 will have a big impact on many of the organizations currently using (or considering) SharePoint.
But before we dive in, let’s start with a bit of background on social business software, because it’s a relatively new product category that’s rapidly evolving.
As Figure 1 shows, social business software is part of the larger context of collaboration technology.
Figure 1 – Collaboration Technology Quadrants
Without going too deeply into this figure, which could be a whole blog post in and of itself, suffice it to say that SharePoint made its name by bridging two quadrants that had been distinct up to the release of MOSS: document-centric collaboration and conversation-centric collaboration for internal audiences (i.e., employees behind the firewall). And so from very early on in the development of SharePoint, collaboration has been at the heart of its value proposition, although this collaboration was initially focused on document-centric and team-based collaboration
Shortly after MOSS, however, other vendors were considering how they could bridge the gap between conversation-centric collaboration for internal and external audiences, and by the time 2010 was released, a number of them had released built for purpose, enterprise ready true social business tools, all of which provided far better social functionality than SharePoint 2010 could (e.g., Jive, Social Text, and Liferay).
And so even though social business capabilities had evolved in 2010 to include rudimentary conversation-centric, more social collaboration through Facebook-like My Sites and on the fly content tagging, SharePoint on its own really can’t touch these built for purpose social business tools…although when combined with a tool like News Gator, it gets pretty close.
My two cents: Given the drive across all industries to “go social”, and given how much they’ve hyped 2010’s social capabilities, it would be hard to imagine that Microsoft wouldn’t amp up SharePoint’s social business capabilities. The only real question is whether Microsoft will do so through better native social business functionality or through improved integration with tools like News Gator.
But here’s the rub: lots of folks who have SharePoint (many of them with significant footprints) also have one or more social business tools to provide the social business functionality MOSS and 2010 lack. So when 2013 comes out, these organizations will have a bit of a mess on their hands to sort out, depending on how much Microsoft has upped SharePoint’s social business capabilities. And given how entrenched SharePoint is at most organizations (how many sites, how many users, how many terabytes of documents), I think most will opt for whatever 2013 has in it rather than sustain both SharePoint and one or more built for purpose social business tools—but only time will tell.
The final word
Okay, with one buzzword out of the way, let’s move to the next, the cloud, and see what Microsoft might have in store for hosted SharePoint. But while you all wait with baited breath for the final post in the series, feel free to dive in and let us all know your thoughts on the future of SharePoint—let’s get the conversation started.
Joe Shepley, PMP is the Vice President and Practice Leader at Doculabs in the Greater Chicago Area. He specializes in several areas including SDLC (software development life cycle) methodolorgies, ITIL (V3 Foundation), Project Management, and most importantly Microsoft SharePoint. You can connect with Joe via Twitter by following @joeshepley or on LinkedIn.
More from this author:
- What’s Next for SharePoint Workflow?
- What’s Next for SharePoint Capture?
- What’s Next for SharePoint?
- SharePoint Needs Information Architecture
- What the Heck is Information Architecture and Why Should I Care?
- Building a Successful Information Architecture
- You Already Have a SharePoint Information Architecture
- Using Information Architecture Elements to Improve Your SharePoint Environment: Part 1 – Site Structure
- Using Information Architecture Elements to Improve Your SharePoint Environment: Part 2 – Folder Structure
- Using Information Architecture Elements to Improve Your SharePoint Environment Part 3 – Metadata
- Using Information Architecture Elements to Improve Your SharePoint Environment Part 4 - File Naming
- Using Information Architecture Elements to Improve Your SharePoint Environment: Part 5 – Document Types
- Using Information Architecture Elements to Improve Your SharePoint Environtment: Part 6- Resource Requirements
- Using Information Architecture Elements to Improve Your SharePoint Environment: Part 7 – Process Requirements