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SharePoint - My How You've Grown

If SharePoint were to get out of the car and run into her Grandma and Granddad’s house, the first thing Grandma would say would be, “My, how you’ve grown!” And she’d be right.

The ways in which SharePoint has grown were the most striking thing about this year's SharePoint Conference - so while my esteemed colleagues Gavin and Fulton have ably discussed the features, functional changes and key messages from the conference, I wanted to concentrate on the maturity and coverage of the SharePoint platform itself.

The first thing that was obvious was the sheer scale of the product and of the event that tries to contain it under one roof. SharePoint and its community are now so big that there are only a few venues big enough to host the international conference – and what better venue to choose than Las Vegas.  For those that haven’t been to Vegas before (and I was one of them), the place is huge, crazy, and generally makes no sense whatsoever if you come from reality.

Having (barely) got my head around the vastness of Las Vegas, I was then faced with the vastness that the SPC was about to hit me with. I’ve been to a couple of NZ SharePoint Conferences and have been mighty impressed with those. This, however, was on another scale completely! 10,000+ attendees, nearly 200 sponsor, exhibitor and partner stands, plus the countless Microsoft and support staff made this easily the biggest SPC yet.


SharePoint Conference 2012


The next thing that hit me (after the conference began and the waves of jetlag and lack of sleep meandered to the back of my brain) was the extent of use the platform is being put to and the enormous value being derived from it.

Traditionally (when SharePoint was only ‘this’ high), people thought of SharePoint as an intranet and possibly an extranet or public facing website. We’ve had the collaboration, the document and records management, the search and BI, and to some extent LOB integration. What is emerging at a great rate now is the positioning of SharePoint as a critical and central business enabler. To borrow a musical analogy, SharePoint is playing the role of the conductor; as well as the pit, half the orchestra, and various members of the audience tweeting their mates from the gallery.

This growth was evident at the SPC also with the emergence of the Business Decision Maker stream as a third series of sessions to complement the Developer and IT Professional sessions (many of which were quite business focused, too). This is a realisation by the community and the industry that we are now dealing with business strategy that far extends the implementation of an independent product or platform. As a result there were often 20 (that’s right – 20!) different sessions to choose from at a time. Luckily they were all recorded, so attendees that were forced to choose between many of the quality topics and speakers at any moment could catch up with what they might have missed. Add that to the labs, certifications, community sessions, vendor sessions, and networking (during and after hours!) it made for a very busy four days.                                                                                                                                                               

If the growth of the SharePoint platform and its capabilities wasn’t already evident, it was again highlighted by a trip to the exhibitor hall. Where once you had a few one-stop shops for point-wise web parts or niche gap-fillers, you now have countless major vendors with very clever products in an increasingly maturing business space. On offer now are products and services for things like Governance, Security, Migration, Performance, Analytics, Aggregation, Training, Records Management, Compliance, Integration, Visualisation and Consultancy. 


SharePoint Conference 2012


But the thing that impressed me the most was the innovative tasks that people are putting SharePoint to. It’s no longer just a matter of managing documents or tidying up the intranet. There are businesses and business processes being totally transformed, new businesses being created and thriving, and – most inspiringly – there are lives being saved.

A memorable quote from Dr Aklak Choudhury of Barking Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals (regarding his use of SharePoint for managing patient handover between shifts) “… [this approach] has saved a lot more lives with SharePoint than I could ever have individually as a doctor.” You don’t get any better value-add than that!

Together with all this – the sheer platform coverage in 2013; the size and depth of the worldwide communities; the investment in search, Office, Azure, social, and the development and integration capabilities; and the richness of features and user experiences for multiple devices – SharePoint 2013 has come a long way and we are in for a great wave of continued growth and uptake of SharePoint.

So it seems Grandma was right.

I wonder what else she's right about. She reckons apps are going to be huge...



Posted by: Bryce Saunders, Senior Consultant | 27 November 2012


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