What’s that you say? I can replace my “F” drive with SharePoint? Wow, that is amazing! It reminds me of the brand new Ferrari F-12 Berlinetta that was pulling out of the grocery store right ahead of me a few weeks ago. I pulled up behind it at the light, fully expecting it to launch on green. But after an awkward delay, it slowly started going forward and crept along well below the speed limit. Disappointed, I pulled past and looked over to see some 90-year-old man, grinning from ear to ear. Here is a guy who has a car that is capable of going 200 MPH, and he is perfectly content with its ability to crawl back and forth to the grocery store. I thought “what a waste of power”, and it reminded me of a lot of the SharePoint deployments I see lately.
Microsoft launched SharePoint Online as part of Office 365 targeting businesses of all sizes. This meant that SMB now had access to a technology that had long been the exclusive province of enterprise, if for no other reason than cost. When the cloud took out the servers, software and configuration, anybody can afford SharePoint now. This is great news, and SharePoint Online is exploding. But instead of hearing a lot of loud booms, I hear a lot of pfft. At first, I expected users to be disappointed, “Is that all it does?”. But it’s actually just the opposite, users are thrilled with five percent of SharePoint. But then it hit me. The difference between these happy users and the happy Ferrari driver was this:
The old man in the Ferrari knows full well what would happen if he stepped on the gas, many SharePoint users think they already have it floored.
There is clearly an education problem here. I think part of the problem is a low expectation. You can get SharePoint Online for a little as $4 a month; together with Lync Online and Hosted Exchange it’s only $8 a month. How much could it possibly do for that price? It is Microsoft’s job, together with their Partner army, to make customers aware of the power they have at their fingertips. But what if most of the partners are not aware either? Now I am sure no one at Ferrari is losing sleep over the old man not utilizing the power he bought, as long as he was able to rationalize it, they got the same money. Same goes for Microsoft, if you are willing to pay the subscription for five percent of the capability, it’s no skin off their nose either. Frankly, I am more bothered by our partner comrades.
SharePoint is like this great big onion. Too many partners peel off that paper-like outer skin and hand it over to their clients, “There’s your SharePoint”. There are two types of partners that do this: the first type is the newly minted partner who does not know any more than his client does. That one is on Microsoft, by literally having no barrier to entry for resellers. The second type of partner is the one who knows that there are many additional layers to the SharePoint onion that their client could benefit from, but has not taken the time to learn how to peel it for them. Why go through all that training, when the client seems perfectly content with just moving their “F” drive? This is the “low-hanging fruit” that many of today’s partners depend on and pursue exclusively.
I could not hope to open your eyes to the multiple layers of SharePoint and how it could transform, yes I said transform, your business in a blog post. But just as a friendly jab to my comrades, watch their face when you ask about workflows, or Infopath forms, or Business Intelligence, or Data Connectivity Services, or Access and Excel Services, or Portals and Extranets, or Project Management, or third-party addons, or information Rights Management (IRM), or eDiscovery, or Visio Services, or PowerPivot, or Document Sets, or any of the other 168 specific layers of the SharePoint onion.
Or, if you are not comfortable making people squirm, contact us today, and we will help you peel it.