SharePoint Overwhelms Business Intelligence

Reposted from March, 2010

SharePoint overwhelms business intelligence as a top search term on, that is. On Google, the SharePoint yield back in May, 2008 was 19,600,000. Today, the number is 15,100,000 (I wonder if Google’s competitive instincts have infected its algorithm). What caused something to finally overtake BI among Gartner’s clients? A number of factors, not the least of which is relentless marketing and promotion by Microsoft. Added to the hype perhaps is client confusion about what SharePoint actually is. Further factors might include the broader prospective user population – as a portal, a collaboration tool, library services, ECM, BCS, and so on, SharePoint is relevant to many levels of technology and business interests. But the single most likely driver for the rise in popularity of SharePoint as a search subject stems from partner (and competitor) compulsion to consciously (or unconsciously) promote it to an unusual extent.

Imagine Christmas morning and an excited near three-year old unwrapping her first tricycle. Eyes bright and cheeks flushed with enthusiasm, she hops on for a ride around the family room – only to stop suddenly, and with a cute but concerned stage whisper, ask, “Daddy – did Santa make sure this tricycle will be compatible with SharePoint in the future?” For analysts, hearing about new products development or corporate strategies from technology providers is much like Christmas for kids. We love unwrapping the new stuff. And, nearly every vendor briefing across a host of portal, content, and collaboration is now likely to include a Statement Of SharePoint Compatibility even if it’s obvious to an analyst that such claims are spurious or specious. Some technologies are close matches, some are distant cousins, and some are alien species of incomprehensible lineage.

It’s not that clients don’t want to know which ones fit better together – they do. But sorting out the gaps and overlaps will take some time and practical experience. And this is typically where pioneering Type A enterprises can provide some pathfinding. But even some Type B enterprises are being stimulated by vendors or sponsors to take some big plunges without the confidence that such effort will be rewarded. I have faith that SharePoint has a place in many enterprises. But I can’t take it on faith alone that it can be all things to all enterprises. The results from a search on SharePoint will yield less raw results than on Google. But the value of the refined research is exactly what business intelligence sometimes fails to provide: actual insight.

This is a re-post from 21 May, 2008. Almost two years later, the key issue remains: is SharePoint an ECM product or is it more part of an ECM strategy? What do you think?

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