Why Question or Criticize Microsoft and SharePoint on Collaboration?

Posted by Gary Voight, CorasWorks President and CEO

I find it interesting that yet another person is questioning…likely criticizing….Microsoft’s collaboration vision for SharePoint (check it out at http://www.cmswire.com/cms/social-business/is-sharepoint-a-failed-vision-for-collaboration-020271.php ).  I can understand the frustration. The author was part of the Microsoft SharePoint ecosystem.  Microsoft does a great job of enabling a market for ISVs (Independent Software Vendors),  then cannibalizing selected product features and then changing directions to meet their perceived market needs (aka “moving the cheese”).    However, Microsoft is not unlike any other major super platform software vendor in that they must look out for their self-interests first, and ecosystem partners must be prepared to adapt.

The bigger question seems to be what is the collaboration market?  As an “old guy” I remember selling and implementing centralized electronic file systems in the early 1990s as a way to “collaborate,” and improve worker productivity.  It also seems like companies selling document management, content management and other platforms (e.g. eRoom, Lotus Notes) have all tried to stress improved collaboration as part of the economic justification for organizations to buy their products.  No software vendor has solved the overall collaboration challenge….so why criticize Microsoft?

As I have posted in previous blogs, SharePoint is a great platform for collaborative applications.  Many organizations have improved work management with applications such as compliance management (e.g. managing permits), equipment maintenance tracking, bid/proposal management, acquisition/purchase request decision-making and management, grants management, new employee/new customer on-boarding, Lab notebooks, tasking, project management/tracking, and many, many more.  Often, the SharePoint alternatives (packaged software products or custom developed solutions) are much more expensive and take much longer to build and implement (aka more risky).  SharePoint provides great value for these types of collaborative applications.

Microsoft’s vision seems fine.  However, the ONLY thing that truly matters is the value an organization derives from their investment in software and services.  The SharePoint platform is a solid base for many types of collaborative applications.  When Microsoft or a partner can understand and deliver a solution that meets a customer’s specific needs, SharePoint can be a great tool for providing that solution at much lower costs and less risk that alternative products or platforms.


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