If SharePoint in name goes away, what it has taught us will not
After hearing that his obituary had been published in the New York Journal, Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known by his pen name Mark Twain, wrote in an 1897 note that "The report of my death was an exaggeration.?
Today, a similar situation has unfolded, though the focus is much different. There has been a lot of buzz in the Microsoft world about the death or end of the SharePoint name. Of course, none of this is verified or even mentioned by Microsoft; nonetheless it is making headlines.
Bloggers and skeptics are leaping at the chance to start a rumor in an attempt to disrupt SharePoint users who are pleased with the systems that have been deployed for them. At the European SharePoint Conference, Microsoft corporate vice president of OneDrive and SharePoint Jeff Teper proudly stated that the second beta of SharePoint 2016 will be delivered before Thanksgiving, indicating Microsoft's commitment to the platform and making good on the company's promise to deliver additional betas of the product prior to formal launch in 2016.
Regardless of whether there is an eventual end to SharePoint or not is frankly irrelevant. By all accounts, a reasonable suggestion would be that, yes, in fact, the name SharePoint one day will go away. When Office 365 overtook SharePoint to become the fastest-growing product in the Microsoft portfolio, the writing may have been on the wall. However, relevant in the discussion are the tools, protocols, policies and structure that will forever be used by organizations irrespective of the platform or name of the enterprise system at hand. Simply stated, it is what SharePoint has taught us about collaboration that will always be present inside our organizations.
If SharePoint in name ended tomorrow, what would we be left with? A lot. Organizations have learned that collaboration is a critical part of business, embracing enhanced tools such as OneDrive and Skype to push the collaborative message into the hands of its users. Moreover, SharePoint has taught teams how to work together toward a common goal, while pushing teamwork to a new level never before seen in the online world.
Think back for a moment to the pre-SharePoint world we worked in, circa 2000. At that time, sending an e-mail was considered collaborating, with many of us hauling large binders around containing project documents. These were typically filled out by hand during a meeting only to be updated digitally and e-mailed to participants. Today, participants attend meetings with laptops and minutes are distributed via link immediately following the event. Documents are uploaded to a centralized site for all to see, and new staffers are trained on how to use the system.
Those who cannot attend a meeting in person have moved well past dialing into a conference bridge and a disconnected sense of the discussion; they now attend live via Skype and present materials to the group as if they were in the room. In many cases, this is the method used across the world at a fraction of the cost of those systems we used only 15 years ago. Today, they are commonplace and roll off the tongue as simple alternatives to not being in the same place at the same time.
Today, we have a digital world where collaboration is expected and the platform is secondary. Microsoft has shown us countless times how convergence is critical to corporate success, and adopting policies is paramount over the heavy lifting of non-enterprise systems. As the world wonders if SharePoint will disappear one day, let's focus on the collaborative pillars it has taught us and take those additional steps to make our organizations great. With configured workflow in place, training plans executed and corporate needs addressed (to name just one), companies will succeed regardless of what the system is called.
Eric Riz is the Founder and CEO of Empty Cubicle. He sits on the Microsoft Solution Advisory Board, acts as a judge for the Microsoft Imagine Cup, and is a three-time recipient of the SharePoint MVP award. Catch his sessions at SPTechCon Austin, Feb. 21 ? 24, 2016.