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SharePoint For and By Information Managers

Why SharePoint in the enterprise is being driven by non-IT people

Today I write from Washington, DC, where I’m attending info360, a large event for information managers, record managers, and the like.

Microsoft has a large pavilion in the Expo hall and there’s a SharePoint “track” at which I presented yesterday. And there’s no doubt that SharePoint is a “hot topic” for these folks. It’s been a great event for me for several reasons.

First, my presentation yesterday was jam packed—I’m guessing close to 300 people in the room. And it was my first time trying to cram a technical talk into 40 minutes.

I usually have trouble squeezing into 75 minutes, so it was a challenge, but there were lots of good questions so the crowd seemed very “dialed in.” We focused on Remote BLOB Storage and the managed metadata—two critical features of SharePoint 2010 as an “enterprise ready” ECM tool.

Second, this event is really an industry event, not a technical event. The attendees are mostly knowledge officers, records managers, content and information managers, librarians, etc.

Their perspectives have been refreshing (very business-focused) and fascinating. I can’t tell you how many of them have said, in effect, “We’re implementing SharePoint” when, in reality, they’re not technical people and they don’t fully understand the platform yet, but the featureset and cost arguments for SharePoint are so compelling that they’ve decided they’ll figure it out as they go! 

What’s the take away?  SharePoint is being driven in these enterprises by the business, not by IT. That’s a sea change in the enterprise that reflects, in an interesting way, the reality of IT in the 2010’s, as “consumers” become smarter about aligning technology with their needs.

It also means there’s going to be a lot of opportunity for folks in the community to help provide guidance and services to these throngs as they foray into their first technical service. 

Third, it’s clear that there’s a LOT of content that’s going to be moved into SharePoint over the next year or two. It’s almost mind boggling. That means a  lot of need and opportunity for guidance related to storage management and optimization.

I’ve already talked with folks doing massive media, PDF, and imaging projects in SharePoint—people who have never used SharePoint to date and are jumping on board in very big ways. 

Fourth, many of these enterprises are actually government organizations, and it’s really refreshing to hear each and every person from these organizations talk passionately about improving efficiency, providing better service, and saving “taxpayer money.” 

Too often the stereotypical view of government employees suggests quite the opposite, but these people are shining examples of folks who really care about what they’re doing, recognize the weaknesses and limitations of current systems, and are trying to build more agile and service oriented organizations.

Microsoft’s new messaging about SharePoint frames “The SharePoint Journey.” When I speak at technical events such as SharePoint Connections, the audience is more seasoned and experienced, more technical, and often further along in their journey.

It’s easy to lose track of just how exciting those first steps in the journey can be for an enterprise—and just how much value SharePoint offers. I’ve really been reminded of that here.

Last but not least, Microsoft has assembled a tremendous collection of SharePoint ISVs at their pavilion. Top quality vendors like AvePoint, Colligo, BA Insight, Metalogix and others “fill the gaps” between SharePoint and the specific business cases to which SharePoint is being applied.

Compared to more monolithic alternatives, the SharePoint ecosystem is dynamic, energetic, and equipped to address a wide range of scenarios and requirements.  I’ve been lucky to have the chance to step back from a pure content role and to enjoy more interaction with the attendees and the vendors!

I mentioned SharePoint Connections and I’d be remiss if I failed to note that it begins on Sunday in Orlando Florida!  I’ll be joining over a dozen of the nation’s top SharePoint gurus and members of Microsoft’s product team for three days of awesome sessions, great networking, and fun!

For those of you coming—or thinking of coming—I’ll be doing a full day preconference called “Dan Holme’s SharePoint Collaboration MasterClass.”  It’s a jump start for you if you are new to SharePoint or SharePoint 2010.

We’ll be looking at all of the core collaboration concepts and functionality, so that you are equipped to align SharePoint to support your business requirements. It’s also a great foundation for the three days of the main event, at which we’ll be focusing on administration of and development on top of the SharePoint platform.

If you’re at Connections, be sure to stop me and say “hi!” I’ll be looking forward to your questions—meeting you and hearing what you’re trying to do with SharePoint is what it’s all about and is my favorite part of my job!


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