Response to Ian Morrish, Senior Consultant with SharePoint, Microsoft New Zealand on "Using SharePoint for Collaboration"

Ian Morrish, a Senior Consultant for SharePoint at Microsoft New Zealand has posted three session abstracts for the upcoming Microsoft SharePoint Conference in Seattle. These three sessions are being presented by customers using SharePoint, and are about their use of SharePoint for collaboration. Ian says that:

SharePoint and Collaboration, yes you can!

I don’t know what your definition of collaboration is but I’m looking forward to some of the SharePoint Conference sessions that are being presented by customers.
(Seems to fly in the face of some analysts who say SharePoint can’t do this 😉

My comment to Ian on his blog was this:

Ian, thanks for sharing these. I would love to be there to listen and learn, particularly since I’m the analyst you are calling into question.

Two points of feedback.

Firstly, without an objective standard as to what “collaboration” is and means, then you are free to claim that SharePoint can indeed support “collaboration”. It appears to me that you have just validated the entire reason for writing the 7 Pillars framework back in 2005 — to give organizations an organizational-centric framework for evaluating different vendor products and determining where and how they worked or didn’t in supporting team collaboration. Otherwise we have 1000 different vendors claiming to offer “collaboration” tools, but with very little insight as a result.

Secondly, the three case studies that you have linked to appear to perfectly match the conclusion in my white paper … … that SharePoint is suitable as a Pillar 1 product, that is for collaboration use cases where Shared Access to Team Data is required. I don’t see these customers talking about the other Pillars where I argue from the facts about SharePoint in light of the 7 Pillars framework that SharePoint fails in 4 out of the 7 areas.

Have a great time at the conference!


0 thoughts on “Response to Ian Morrish, Senior Consultant with SharePoint, Microsoft New Zealand on "Using SharePoint for Collaboration"

  1. Hi, see my response
    Thanks for your call. I was driving home so 95% of my attention was directed towards other people on the road (collaborating at an inappropriate time can be hazardous to your health ;-). But maybe YOUR 7 pillars are not relevant to the majority of customers I deal with (Yet). The customers I referred to use the term “Collaboration” on their own terms, as it meets their requirements.
    I was big into electronic collaboration throughout the 1990’s when I run public and private BBS systems, hosted a NetMeeting locator server on the Internet in NZ, hosted a web interface to NNTP news groups (a decade before I consider that my ideas, at the time, were ahead of their time and customers were not ready for them (half of them are still not ready for them, so I’m working with the half that are ;-).
    What I have found in the last 7 years is that most companies have task workers. They are hired to do a job (business process) that requires minimal collaboration, but are ripe for productivity improvements, which includes some collaborative capability, which I believe SharePoint delivers (along with all the other things that help facilitate the business process). I don’t see what relevance the other 6 pillars have to them at this stage of business evolution (although granted, it is rapidly changing, as are the SharePoint Products and Technologies)
    So, in summary, Pillar #2, 99.5 percent irrelevant to 99.5 percent of all employees. I see this decreasing (or is that increasing) by .1 % pa. I may be proven wrong as it could increase by .5 percent next year. That is why most of our customers aren’t talking about it. Those who do want it are welcome to find a point solution to solve the problem or, better yet, invest in a 3rd party solution that extends SharePonit capabilities in this area. Hay, that’s me. I use Colligo Contributor to solve MY requirement for offline editing and metadata change control of SharePoint hosted documents and lists. And before someone says “Why doesn’t he use Groove?”, it is because we use an Enterprise Document Library template for our consulting documents and I only want to take certain folders from the library offline.
    I could address the other pillars but I’m out of time for tonight 😉

  2. Hi Ian,
    Thanks very much for the mention of Colligo Contributor. We’re really pleased you like our tools.
    I wanted to just make a quick comment on the discussion of the relevance of location independence (pillar #2). You mentioned that most customers aren’t talking about it. We find that often customers do not frame the issue in those words. Nonetheless, there can be large end user adoption issues of browser-based collaboration tools due to location dependent user interface issues. The problem stems from the fact that laptop users (now 50% of new pc purchases), must learn two working styles – one on the corporate network and one outside it. When working in the office, access to the server is generally good and the browser works fine (though it still forces users to leave the rich client interface which is another issue). But outside the office, when traveling or even working from home, lack of connectivity, network latency and/or VPN issues can force users to take content offline since the browser interface may not work well under those conditions. One of our customers talked about these issues in a recent webinar: As I’m sure you know, forcing users to manually take content offline creates a bunch of issues around security, versioning and synchronization, in addition to adding to training costs and reducing end user satisfaction. What we’ve heard from many customers is that a consistent user experience online or offline can increase adoption of collaboration tools. Perhaps this is another way of expressing the need for location independence.
    We are finding that there is a high degree of need for location independence in industries such as professional services (i.e. accountants and management consultants), pharmaceuticals (sales), nonprofits, military and oil & gas.
    Barry Jinks,
    Colligo Networks, Inc.

  3. Hi Barry,
    I agree that laptops are a common purchase but as I’m leaving customers sites at the end of a long day (often after most of the employees have left), I see lots of laptops sitting on desks.
    There are certainly some professions that warrant full application/data fidelity while offline, I just think they are a drop in the ocean compared with the total number of Office users (although a substantial opportunity for you).

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