Ken Stewart webby Ken Stewart | 6/29/16

You’ve been to all of the conferences, slogged through the various webinars, and heard all of the promises about value-add services and software. You are likely even seeing some modest success by adding software and IT solutions to your offerings portfolio. But have you thought about whether Microsoft SharePoint should play a part in your future?

In 2003, I joined the imaging industry. Microsoft SharePoint was hot, and everybody wanted in. But somewhere along the way, people lost interest.

"SharePoint has a sweet spot," says Adam Drewes, Chief Marketing Officer at Kopis. "People who over-customized were bitten by the upgrade cost and complexity, and the pendulum swung back towards favoring out-of-the-box features."

As a newly minted professional services director at a leading technology reseller in 2003, I could attest to the fact that I was bullish on all things SharePoint. It’s simple to deploy, your teams could self-manage, and I had a brand that sold itself. What’s not to love about a recipe that wreaks of profit-potential and quick adoption in deployment?

I was on a tear to start using and selling the solution. In an age where end-user frustration with IT was at an all-time high, I knew we could benefit from being seen as the simplest solution to do business with.

Then came the upgrades and customizations. And there went my dreams of making money with SharePoint. In the years that followed, executives’ and evangelists’ commitment to the platform flagged. I had all but written SharePoint off as one of many failed crusades by a seemingly-wayward Microsoft.

But in recent conversations with software executives focused on the capture and workflow market, it seems the slumbering giant has awoken. Microsoft now seems to be on a mission to “empower people, teams and organizations to intelligently discover, share, and collaborate on content from anywhere and on any device.” If it sounds like marketing hype, it is. But don’t miss the intent as evidenced by Microsoft’s latest $26B bet to acquire LinkedIn.

When I asked with Glenn Johnson, president of PSIGEN Software, what he saw in the future, he simply asked, “Who owns the desktop?” His prediction is based on a simple metaphor, “If McDonalds builds the playground [for the kids] the parents will come.” Johnson believes that Microsoft — and its productivity-centric, device-agnostic, ecosystem — will be the playground.

“A lot of companies struggled with looking at SharePoint as a platform to build on. Even as a company who lived and breathed SharePoint, we had to be creative to attain the results our clients expected,” explained Drewes. This time, Microsoft is working hard to prove that, “The ecosystem is worth it.”

This means that partners, like Kopis and PSIGEN, can build and customize solutions that work within the SharePoint ecosystem, opening up an immense number of “captured customers” already using, or open to using, a trusted name in technology. Customers also benefit by gaining access to a growing list of solutions to meet business needs.

Should SharePoint Be in Your Future?

In a post on Microsoft’s SharePoint blog, Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft said, “We are continuing to advance SharePoint, OneDrive and the entire Office 365 service in ways that make productivity even more collaborative, intelligent, mobile and trustworthy,”

While I don’t advocate rushing into any hasty decisions, I do recommend exploring this as a serious option for your portfolio. With advanced collaboration features, extensible integrations, and accessibility and security at the forefront of design decisions it makes me wonder if the SharePoint team has learned a lot of hard lessons and is actually ready for primetime?

Ken Stewart is a principal consultant, author and speaker at ChangeForge, a boutique consultancy helping busy people simplify choices, stay focused, and achieve results. Recognized as a 2015 Difference Maker and one of the Top 40 most influential people in his industry for 2013, Stewart has worked with organizations of all shapes and sizes to identify opportunities, as well as create and execute market-leading strategies.