SharePoint at center of growing ecosystem in content management

Over the past few quarters, I’ve fielded a number of inquiries from IT, investor and vendor clients about an emerging “SharePoint ecosystem.”  Questions range from “We want to extend our SharePoint deployment to support a transactional app.  What third-party tools should we look at?” to “What are the gaps in SharePoint where there are opportunities for investment?” In response to some of these queries, I’ve put together a new report for 451 Group clients that shares a title with this blog post.

It’s hardly a secret that SharePoint has had and will continue to have a tremendous impact on the content management market.  Organizations really started taking SharePoint seriously as a content management platform after the release of Microsoft Office SharePoint Server in 2007 (affectionately known as MOSS 2007).  We’ve seen a few trends since that time that affect this idea of a SharePoint ecosystem:

  • With many organizations investing significant amounts of time, money and effort in their SharePoint deployments, there is a good deal of interest in expanding SharePoint’s use beyond some of the more basic content sharing uses and intranet apps where it mostly started.
  • Along with that however is a better understanding by many in IT and in business units of where SharePoint works well and where it falls short.  This isn’t true across the board, as there is still a great deal of variation in terms of the sophistication of SharePoint deployments (i.e., the more an org uses SharePoint, the more they are likely to see its limitations).
  • Microsoft’s own attitude towards SharePoint seems to have shifted to some degree since the 2007 MOSS launch.  At that point, Microsoft positioned SharePoint more as the end-all, be-all of content management.  That positioning seemed to fade pretty quickly in the face of the realities of content management realized by Microsoft’s field organizations and partners.  Today there is more subtlety in how Microsoft defines its own content management capabilities (foundational) vs. the areas it leaves to partners (supplemental).  I’m not claiming this new, Microsoft has been positioning SharePoint as a dev’t platform for ISVs for some time, but it is worth highlighting as an ongoing trend as it relates to the ISV ecosystem.

So those three trends taken together and separately can point to significant opportunities for ISVs that are extending SharePoint.  There is also really not much in the new SharePoint 2010 release to derail many of these players; there is still lots of room for extension and complementary capabilities.

Some of these are smaller players really dedicating their businesses to SharePoint (e.g., Nintex, KnowledgeLake) and some are much larger businesses that have either invested heavily in SharePoint tools (e.g., Quest Software).  Existing large ECM vendors fit into this ecosystem as well, as they have adjusted strategies to both coexist and compete with SharePoint (e.g., Open Text, EMC).  We cover most of these vendors in some depth in our regular Market Insight Service and look at them together and at some of the competitive dynamics in the segment in this Spotlight report.



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#2 Marc on 03.07.11 at 7:27 pm

I can only cringe reading this post, or any positive mention of SharePoint for that matter. It is fundamentally unconscionable to promote SharePoint for any purpose in its current or immediate future incarnations without a total breakdown and bottom-up rebuild. I have not experienced a single implementation of SharePoint that is essentially useful and facilitates productivity rather than throttling it; and I have experienced quite a few. Unless someone is intentionally preventing me from seeing any useful and effective implementations, I am convinced that it must not be possible.

Once you look at how SharePoint came about, what its initial seed was and how it developed, you start understanding that the fundamental framework of SharePoint is about as old, rotten, and convoluted as one could expect from a side project that is built on old concepts and technology. SharePoint2010 is essentially the Windows Mobile 6.5 of phones; a mobile operating system that was bastardized from a PDA operating system born out of the early 90s. Anything other than Microsoft doing to SharePoint, what they did to build the Windows Phone 7 operating system (which, with all it’s bruises, bumps, and flaws has great fundamentals to build on) will leave them behind in yet another arena; playing catchup after trying to milk the anemic cow called SharePoint to death. Anyone that adopts SharePoint is dooming themselves to massive waste of resources to build an effectively counter-productive system. The return and gain from focusing on improving existing and building out new business processes on existing technology will far exceed any gains from SharePoint in most, if not all, cases.

Again, I emphasize, promoting SharePoint is essentially akin to abuse and sabotage. Friends don’t let friends do SharePoint!