The Microsoft Ignite conference was a huge conference attended by over 23,000 people. It was multiple conferences pressed together into one (SharePoint, TechNet, and more). The conference was well done, many breakout sessions to attend, and networking opportunities were available wherever you turned. Being an attendee to every SharePoint Conference since 2006, I could not help but notice that there was different feeling and attitude overall at this one.
SharePoint Expansion Era is Over
Between the releases of SharePoint 2001 and SharePoint 2013, Microsoft and the SharePoint community have been “throwing mud on the wall” to see if it sticks. And, with the release of SharePoint 2007, there has been explosive growth. I heard an interesting statistic when I attended the Boston SharePoint Users Group (BSPUG) recently. As of a couple of months ago, there were 86,000 corporations out there with some form of SharePoint in place. This is hearsay, so please do not quote me on this, but even if it is within 5000 deployments that is still an amazing number. This era has been an exciting time. Many names rose to the top as titans of the SharePoint community in evangelical roles speaking in more countries than most visit in an entire lifetime.
This being said, during the last couple of years this growth momentum has changed. My friends who were in the evangelical roles have been put in a position to reinvent themselves. The SharePoint convention has been blended with several other conventions drawing less attention to it than it has seen in the past. Even the overall atmosphere was quite different. I am saying all of this to say, we are on the cusp of a new era. This era is going to be very different and is going to be driven by different business needs.
Era of SharePoint Maturity
During the Expansion Era, the need was to get SharePoint installed (hopefully by best practices) and adopted by corporate information workers. Many necessary key components were overlooked during that first era, as well. Governance, information architecture, and enterprise taxonomy were neglected for multiple reasons that I am not going to get into at this time. With the work that I am seeing come to the table, the conversations I am having with past and current clients, and internally where I work all are pointing to an era of maturing SharePoint environments.
The future is going to look very different if I am reading the tea leaves correctly. SharePoint shops are still going to have a solid place in the community, but most do not have the needed experience to build rich enterprise wide taxonomies and information architectures that span beyond SharePoint. By now, most corporations understand that SharePoint is not a silver bullet that is going to fix all their business needs. It does provide a solid platform to bring together multiple systems visually, but in order for this to work properly the taxonomies that need to be developed must span beyond the walls of SharePoint – reaching into your CRM’s, PIM’s, DAM’s, financial systems, and more. A need for unification of language across these seemingly different systems in order to draw rich information needs to take place. To make this happen, your company is going to need to find companies that specialize in helping organizations build these structures. Information sciences is going to come to the forefront out of sheer necessity caused by the sheer volume of content that is out there being generated by our employees.
If your company is wondering how to get more from its SharePoint farms, whether it be on premises or in the cloud, you are going to need to stabilize and improve the foundations you currently have in place. You need to do so in order to get the ROI that you were looking for when you first had SharePoint installed. SharePoint 2016 is coming quickly. Those of us who attended the Microsoft Ignite conference saw it already. There are a lot of new things available, but in all honesty, they will not light up to their full potential if your information architecture and taxonomies are subpar or non-existent. If you are planning on upgrading your SharePoint environment, move to the cloud, or a combination of both now is the time to take the extra steps to mature your SharePoint implementation. Now is the time to enable SharePoint to work at a new level of integration and intelligence for your company.
David J Pileggi Jr.