What's your Future with SharePoint? Moving Back & Forward..

19 Oct 2016 | Sajin Sahadevan

We have been hearing and reading a lot about Future of SharePoint. What exactly does it mean? I did a rewind on the previous SharePoint info for the past 1 week and noted down the following themes for each year:-

Moving Backwards:- Let's start with 2012..



from the 2012 AIIM report on SharePoint: the biggest issue is the lack of expertise to maximize the usefulness of SharePoint, and [2] in only 8% of firms are decisions about SharePoint made by a business systems advisory group.
the key message from Microsoft was that SharePoint 2013 was the last on-premises edition; organisations should move to the cloud.



the deployment process for SharePoint was noted to be elaborate and time consuming, and in many cases hard to complete.
– both Forrester and AIIM said users weren’t adopting SharePoint and didn’t like the SharePoint experience.
– Microsoft’s guidance was to use SharePoint for public facing internet sites.
– success with SharePoint appears to be about sales numbers, not actual effective use.
– a Gartner analyst recommended that Microsoft should “kill SharePoint” because nobody likes it, it’s too hard to use, and too hard to manage.
– Forrester said that organisations probably won’t continue to invest in SharePoint.
– the sense was that while end users disliked SharePoint, IT pros liked it a lot.



– SharePoint is too often approached as an IT delivery project, not a business one.
Microsoft is de-emphasising the SharePoint brand name (remember the outcry after the SharePoint Conference 2014 at how little the word “SharePoint” was used during the event?)
– Office 365 is the place to be; the version of SharePoint after 2013 will be the last one.
– AIIM said that users still aren’t embracing SharePoint.
Microsoft changed its guidance of public facing internet sites; don’t use SharePoint – use Sitecore instead.



Microsoft revamped its messaging – SharePoint Server 2016 will not be the last on-premises version, and  hybrid is a good strategy – take a mixed approach to SharePoint with some on-premises and some in SharePoint Online



SharePoint has a great future!
Microsoft is committed to SharePoint Server
– Hybrid is still good – use the right mix of Office 365 and SharePoint on-premises
– The SharePoint brand is re-established / re-celebrated in Office 365
– Microsoft introduced a streamlined UI, a simpler experience, and even a mobile app (finally)

Looking at the above data points, it is clear that Microsoft has pivoted on its love for / embrace of / direction with SharePoint. However, I would argue that all of these statements are statements of fact (“that” statements) which exist outside of how an organisation makes use of SharePoint. In other words, it appears clear that Microsoft has a plan for the future of SharePoint, but what should organisations do in planning their future with SharePoint?

Are these statements enough?Well, we need to find that out!

Moving Forward

Above, I had summarized what’s been happening with SharePoint over recent years, asserted that those happenings are statements of fact, and asked whether statements were enough for organisations planning their SharePoint journey? In other words, in light of Microsoft’s public re-commitment to SharePoint, what’s the necessary equal response from organisations planning their journey with SharePoint?

In exploring how to frame that, I have mentioned the below points:-

  1. Technology can provide a starting point, but not the journey itself. I like how Randy at AvePoint said it recently regarding SharePoint and Office 365, “it’s easy to get excited about the technology improvements …. but let’s not forget what matters most: making a difference in the lives of the information workers we serve.”
  2. In research conducted in the mid-90s on virtual teams, Jessica and Jeff at NetAge concluded that success was “90% people, 10% technology.” The people stuff – the business driver, the team culture, the level of interpersonal trust, the nature of interdependence, etc. – was much more important than whatever tools were used.
  3. There’s a difference between avoiding failure and chasing success with new tools. According to Stephens in the mid-2000s, avoiding failure “only” required good infrastructure and responsive applications. But, if you wanted to chase success, there were a whole set of additional activities required – such as client support, business acceptance, training approaches, user manuals, and more.
  4. In the AIIM 2016 report on SharePoint, the three leading reasons for SharePoint failing were all organisational concerns (see image above): 67% inadequate user training, 66% users never really liked it or found it hard to use, and 64% senior management didn’t endorse and enforce it.
  5. And finally, a long time ago (last millennium, in 1996), there was this idea about enabling impact with groupware: “Groupware will …. not mysteriously transform organizations from collections of highly competitive loners to well integrated, cooperative groups of collaborators. Without careful planning for its introduction and the changes that this will entail, the impact of groupware will likely be quite limited. Successful groupware implementation will require both a careful assessment of the fit of the technology to the organization and a well designed training program to introduce this new technology and its potential to the organization members..” Now substitute the word “groupware” with “Office 365” and read it again. Interesting!

What principles are you using to guide your organisational journey with SharePoint? Stay tuned for more!