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Survey: SharePoint Meeting IT and Business Needs

SharePoint largely has been meeting IT and business management expectations in organizations, according to a new survey by Forrester Research.

The survey was conducted in July and included responses from "510 IT decision-makers involved with evaluating, specifying, or administering SharePoint." On the IT side, 79 percent of respondents said that SharePoint is meeting their expectations, with 21 percent giving a negative reply. When asked if SharePoint had met business management expectations, 73 percent said "Yes," while 27 percent said "No."

These results surprised even the Forrester researchers. SharePoint has sometimes been described as a multipurpose black box in terms of its use. It's also said sometimes to require high IT expertise to set up and manage.

The survey results were presented by Rob Koplowitz, a Forrester Research vice president and principal analyst, who spoke on Tuesday at a panel session at the Microsoft SharePoint 2011 Conference. The conference is ongoing this week in Anaheim, Calif. Koplowitz and his colleague John Rymer had devised the survey. They were looking for a way to drill down into how organizations were using SharePoint because "we didn't have a strong longitudinal view about what people were doing with SharePoint," Koplowitz said. In that respect, this survey was a first for Forrester.

Most (65 percent) of the survey respondents were using SharePoint 2007, but use of SharePoint 2010 also was high at 57 percent. Windows SharePoint Services and SharePoint Foundation Services were used by 25 percent of respondents. Use of SharePoint Portal Server 2003 was represented by 11 percent. On the online side, nine percent used SharePoint via Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Services (BPOS), while four percent used it via Office 365.

BPOS, which uses a hosted version of SharePoint 2007, is currently being phased out as Microsoft's customers transition to Office 365. This hosting service uses the newer technologies represented by Microsoft's current SharePoint 2010 flagship product.

The survey found that 81 percent had deployed SharePoint on premises in a datacenter. The heavy on-premises use of SharePoint was "not a surprise," according to Koplowitz. Most of the respondents (42 percent) had deployed on premises before they considered the cloud-based offerings to be an option.

Organizations deployed SharePoint to enable collaboration, social networking, content management, enterprise search, business intelligence, sites (intranets and portals), Web content management and custom composite apps integration (WebParts). Forrester's survey drilled down into these areas. According to a chart shown at the conference, users seemed most satisfied (56 percent) with collaboration. They seemed most dissatisfied (22 percent) with search. Respondents most of all (47 percent) said that they didn't plan to use SharePoint for Web content management. Forrester's report, when published, will likely provide greater detail about how SharePoint was used.

IT was mostly slowed down by technical issues in deploying SharePoint, according to 59 percent of respondents. Another stumbling block was a lack of governance, according to 41 percent. The lack of access to IT skills needed to deploy SharePoint was rated lower as an issue, with 28 percent of respondents seeing it as a problem. However, during audience participation, one anecdotal opinion was that it was harder to find expertise in SharePoint beyond the middle tier.

The SharePoint 2011 Conference was sold out and the vendor floor was well attended while I was there. It's clear that Microsoft has strong partner support for the product. On that note, the Forrester survey found that 44 percent planned to tap third-party software vendor products for use with SharePoint, while 38 percent said that they went to third parties after finding that SharePoint didn't have what they needed out of the box.

The top third-party software vendors utilized for SharePoint, according to the numbers in Forrester's survey, were as follows:

  • Nintex for workflow
  • Bamboo for WebParts
  • AvePoint for administration
  • NewsGator for social networking
  • Axceler for administration
  • K2 for workflow
  • Kwizcom for WebParts
  • Quest for administration
  • Metalogix for content management and
  • Yammer for social networking

Forrester is apparently still compiling interviews for this report, which is not yet available. The report will contain advice to SharePoint implementers. A few bullet points were provided by Koplowitz. For instance, he recommended starting out by assessing SharePoint from a functional perspective and avoiding overlap with existing solutions. He highly emphasized ensuring organizational readiness, which proved to be a bigger stumbling than expected.

The talk at the event was titled, "The Forrester Survey: Best Practices in SharePoint 2010 Adoption and Migration."

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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