SharePoint Is Not Dead, It Will Continue to Dominate

Gartner analyst Jeffrey Mann spoke at the 2013 Gartner Symposium on SharePoint and declared its inevitable demise. But, his assessment shows a distinct lack of understanding of what SharePoint is, what enterprise collaboration is and the fact that many companies will not go to the cloud for their content management needs.

Not Dead YetMann’s presentation was confusing and misleading. By instructing CIOs to look to a post-SharePoint future, Mann displayed a distinct lack of foresight when it comes to collaborative solutions, SharePoint and business.

Misunderstanding Enterprise Collaboration

Companies are increasingly using SharePoint to manage their content in a secure way. They’re able to build workflows on top of their content that are highly customized to their unique needs, improving their business processes.

Mann acknowledges that a high percentage of companies use SharePoint, with 28 percent using it across their entire workforce and 70 percent having at least half of the company use it once a week. Yet he cites its inevitable demise, due to difficulty administering it and poor user experience. While many of these criticisms are valid, none are life-threatening.

Yammering on SharePoint

Mann also asserts that the evolution of SharePoint in the cloud will be defined by better integration with Yammer. Wrong.

SharePoint is not a social network like Yammer, nor do the huge number of companies who have adopted SharePoint use it for social networking. Its main value proposition is separate and different from social networks in more ways than any reasonable blog post could cover. To be succinct, it is a secure and regulated environment that provides portals with content management, collaboration, and publishing. Although social in SharePoint may be a growing value point for the technology, it is not the principle driver of demand.

“Yammer and SharePoint overlap and complement each other in several ways; there are strong signs that whatever evolution SharePoint undergoes as it becomes more cloud-based will be strongly influenced by Yammer,” Mann states. This statement seems to imply that social is key to what SharePoint should become. This trend, to assume that social will always be pivotal and essential, is not accurate. There are business needs for, and against, social. His assessment seems too focused on trends, not substance.

Social cannot replace the key functions of SharePoint, it can only augment them. Social is a new area for SharePoint, one which will bring a broader selling point and more value to users, but it is not critical to SharePoint’s success. To stay relevant, Microsoft will need principally to evolve SharePoint along core lines of content management, collaboration, and publishing.

The Cloud Juggernaut

Mann goes on to declare the demise of on-premise SharePoint. Speaking of cloud solutions he says, “SharePoint on-premises is slowly on its way out; it’s become an evolutionary dead end.” He seems to believe that the cloud is a juggernaut, and nothing can stop it. Again, this line of thinking is too focused on trends, not on the substance or value proposition of enterprise tools.

Where companies can and do transition to the cloud, this may be the right course, though not always. However, many companies simply do not have this option. The regulatory and legal considerations of storing company information on the Web are huge. Many large companies cannot and will not do this. The cloud is not secure, as we all know. We understand this now more than ever with the recent NSA revelations, which proved that online encryption can be cracked. Additionally, the cloud is not reliable; regular outages of cloud-services keep businesses wary of moving their business-critical operations there. Even a short outage has a significant impact on a company’s revenue and reputation. Just this year, Microsoft’s world-wide Azure services went down because they failed to perform a routine activity.

The assumption that a better user-experience is inevitable in the cloud is unfounded. The idea that the cloud will lead to lower costs for companies is too simplified, and not always accurate. The idea that going to the cloud is always better is simply wrong. The concept that it is even an option for many businesses is naïve. SharePoint on-premise is not going anywhere, and if Microsoft drinks the Kool-Aid that it should go, then it’s making a huge mistake.

Edited 2/10 to correct analyst’s name.

Comments

  1. BY Roger Brown says:

    I agree with the points in this article. And I personally believe that Gartner has a grudge against SharePoint. Years ago (circa 2003 or so) Gartner recommended Vignette’s collaboration system over SharePoint, and I don’t think they’ve ever gotten over the fact that the latter has been so widely adopted. Gartner was wrong about SharePoint before, and I have no doubt that they will be again.

  2. BY Ryan Kather says:

    If you’re going to post a counterpoint to a presentation by someone, the minimum courtesy you could do is provide the original article.

    This article is an interesting take, but full of (what I assume to be) just as many assumptions about the direction of the industry as Manning’s. Sharepoint isn’t going anywhere for awhile. The cloud has a value proposition and MS is pushing hard to walk customers into their cloud (see new CEO in particular).

    I think you’ll see one of two things. Sharepoint will either become much more nimble and user centric, or it will slowly walk deeper into process of larger corporations and become that Lotus Notes business proposition (eventually to die). I seriously would like to read Manning’s….

  3. BY Will Kelly says:

    I think SharePoint isn’t failing but is entering a new stage of its market evolution. However, the SharePoint platform is vulnerable from more than one vector. It finally has credible competitors like Huddle and some other platforms. Additionally, companies are also looking at expensive on-premise SharePoint implementations with a new eye on getting a return on their investment. This means that third party services firms, app providers, the cloud, and better governance are going to play a larger role in its future success.

  4. BY David Lavenda says:

    Social features in SharePoint have not really caught on in a big way. Yammer introduces some nice capabilities, but they are not integrated well with SharePoint; in fact they live in different screens. That, I believe is what Jeff Mann (not Manning, by the way) is saying and it makes a lot of sense. There is no ‘documents’ vs. ‘social’ agenda. Documents and social are two sides of the collaboration coin. People need to share documents and they need to discuss their edits and changes. It makes total sense that these will go together. Regardless of how Microsoft brands this, these two capabilities will always go together. The issue is not that these features are not needed; it’s that they need to work seamlessly so that people don’t have to toggle between disparate apps; SharePoint, Yammer, or others like Lync in order to communicate ‘in context.’ So the discussion of SharePoint/no SharePoint is besides the point – it’s the users’ needs that count. And creating a simple user experience to use all the tools – which will increasingly move to the cloud – is the key to making the new collaboration experience a reality. Today, this unified user experience is only offered by third party products., like harmon.ie.

  5. BY Tamarin says:

    SharePoint you like it or not is a bulky and evolving product and not very popular among developers. To be correct very few developer like the product and mostly hate it. My personal view is that MS should put it to rest and scrap the damn thing. It’s bogus and buggy product of very limited productive use.

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