By Errin O'Connor, Founder & CEO at EPC Group.net - September 08, 2011
The Perceptions vs. Reality of I.T. and New Technologies
When discussing with a client who is considering or beginning the process of rolling out SharePoint 2010, I sometimes feel like a broken record in saying, “yes, it can accomplish that” or “it can be implemented to replace this or that system” but in reality these are all true statements. I read an interesting article the other day regarding Facebook and its comparison to corporate technologies and SharePoint in particular.
Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server (SPS) 2003 (2 full SharePoint releases ago) had My Site (social) capabilities but it was before its time and management, legal, compliance, and CIOs were rightfully concerned and doing their due diligence in seeing how this new feature, along with others, such as blogs and wikis would positively or negatively affect their organization. Many of these organizations with these concerns thou also relied on file shares and antiquated HTML or custom .asp Intranets and good enough was better than the risk perceived.
There are some organizations that have taken SharePoint 2007 and SharePoint 2010’s (social) professional networking capabilities (My Sites) and practically stood them on their head in doing some real work (i.e. allocating budget and resources) with huge ROI. SharePoint 2010’s capabilities bring your staff together to increase productivity, provide knowledge bases, open discussion areas to larger groups, while providing this in a secure environment is beyond powerful.
What is the difference between someone sending out an inappropriate email to a person or group of people or someone posting something possibly inappropriate on their My Site? Yes, they are both against company policy and should be removed and the issue dealt with accordingly.
My advice and urging is for organizations to step outside their comfort zone and invest in using SharePoint’s features (as you probably already own the licenses) and look at its Web Content Management, Document Management, Business Intelligence, Intranet, and Professional Networking capabilities.
There is no doubt that organizations have pulled back the reins on investing time and effort on the utilization of a new technology and have turned their focus on their existing technologies, keeping the status quo, and staying in between the lines. I had a conversation with an organization’s Director of I.T. last month and he told me, “If you compare what we used to spend (effort and budget) on innovation 8 to 10 years ago compared to now, it’s completely night and day.” He went on to say, “Our organization spends 10% of what it used to on innovation and it seems to be some fear of the unknown that is driving this.”
The I.T. Department within organizations is not the anti-sales department but an enabler to help you and your staff increase productivity, decrease wasted time on searching or finding content, protecting the organization from litigation, and making sure you have the tools to make your job easier.
Scenarios to Consider
This could be an area of conversation that could go on for hours, but I wanted to give a list of a few examples of what clients have approached EPC Group with in the past 4 months to kickoff this scenarios topic.
1.We have a LiveLink system and our users can’t stand to use the LiveLink interface and they love SharePoint’s easy to use interface so they end up just storing documents in SharePoint and that is not “our system of record.” Can we front-end LiveLink with SharePoint until our OpenText license expires?
2.We have a massive file share system where I am sure there are a ton of duplication as well as applications, large files, possible databases, and data that we are not sure what to do with… how can we migrate this successfully into SharePoint?
3.We want to roll-out SharePoint 2010 to a few departments and integrate it via Single Sign-on with the major LOB systems in those departments. How best can we do this without affecting future upgrades or patches that Microsoft releases on SharePoint 2010?
4.We want to implement SharePoint Server 2010 Enterprise as our ECM solution but do not know where to start or have a retention schedule, what should we do?
5.We have to be 508 compliant in SharePoint, what solutions are out there and how do we do this the right way the first time as there is no room for error?
6.We want to upgrade SharePoint 2007 to 2010 but have done major customization and also have developed custom .NET KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) in 2007 and want to now use PerformancePoint, what is the best approach?
7.Should we use some external cloud service or should we implement our own solution in-house? What are the pros and cons of that long term?
I sincerely enjoy my interactions with clients looking to implement SharePoint 2010 and there are best practices and past performance projects to show to all 7 questions above and SharePoint 2010 can meet all of these needs.
The major issues with a lot of the areas of concern tend to be political or a lack of ownership within the organization to drop the hammer and say this is the way it’s going to be. SharePoint initiatives are most successful with executive sponsorship or that visionary\maverick who is willing to drive and embrace change.
Items That Are Coming Down the Pipe – Like it or Not
To maintain a competitive advantage, most companies are going to have to embrace new technology and start getting prepared for Tablets, Mobile Device access, and truly implementing a records retention policy along with a system of record (ECM/ERM) that is fully searchable and high performing. Microsoft has purchased Skype and one can only wonder what they have up their sleeves with this as well as developed their new Lync Unified Communication solution.
Facebook, Netflix, self-check outs, on-demand cable shows, iTunes, and others things have changed the culture of what people, being your user base, expect. Your company may or may not have the budget right now to purchase new licenses or revamp your technology until 2012 or later but there are still options out there to prepare such as SharePoint Foundation 2010, Skype, getting off your file shares, and implementing strategies.
These strategies should consist of your organization’s IT Roadmap (including SharePoint) as well as an Enterprise Governance Strategy (including SharePoint and how you are going to deal with Mobility).
The last item I wanted to touch on is eDiscovery, as we live in a litigious world and being prepared and making that investment to be prepared may turn out to save you a great deal in the future. That equates to implementing a records management strategy in your organization and identifying “what is a record.” Also think about how best email is being managed and what are your technical options around streamlining your organizations technology.