Leveraging Large SharePoint Communities
With the growing maturation of SharePoint, an increasing number of organizations have large numbers of people using SharePoint for one reason or another, on one SharePoint server or another, on one Site Collection or another. In the real world, these SharePoint conglomerations grow a few users at a time and often have parallel (and competing) SharePoint programs. The result is often an organic sprawl of active collaborative communities. They are active because they’ve built SharePoint to address their business needs – a happy result of enlightened self-interest.
The question is: is there something to be gained by moving beyond the tactical organic sprawl of enterprise SharePoint? The technical aspects of this are being addressed because of shared service technologies (Cloud) and budget pressures. The issue here has more to do with people, organizations, business objectives, strategy, and the potential value of jumping to a whole new level entirely. Let’s consider some of the ways this could go:
Expertise location – by leveraging everyone’s familiarity with SharePoint, create a common standard for entering and maintaining individual expertise profiles. If kept simple and built on something like My Sites, this could be a fairly quick win.
Tapping the data in the collective SharePoint environment. We have one government client with terabytes of data in their SharePoint program. With some general agreement on governance regarding content management, and some innovative big data add-ons, this could be a big jump in organizational capacity. When you go one step further and bring open data solutions in data from the major cloud providers into the picture – things really start to get interesting.
The key point – and one that is emphasized less often than you might think – is that a community of SharePoint users in any enterprise is pre-wired to act and collaborate on the data, not just gaze at it.
Will there be obstacles to moving to this level? You bet. A really big one is getting past SharePoint parochialism (we are different, our data is unique, etc.) and server farm silos. Another is the requirement for some common governance standards. A third is the need for business leaders who understand and will actively support a quantum shift in thinking about large-scale collaboration and knowledge management. It isn’t as big a leap as you might think.