Evolving Beyond File Storage

When asked what I do for a living, I am oftentimes met with a blank stare once the word SharePoint administrator leaves my lips.  In the times where I am talking to a person who has experience with SharePoint, they will usually tell me how their company uses it as a file share service.  Upon hearing this reply, I try and give some perspective on how SharePoint can be leveraged to do so much more than simply store files.

**Queue glossed over look**

In all honesty, it’s hard to blame SharePoint users when they do not fully understand or utilize all of the built in functionality.  Learning how to use this tool can be, to put it kindly, daunting.  I have worked in SharePoint administration for over four years, and I am still learning some of the subtle nuances on calibrating things properly.

For many companies, SharePoint is a great tool for storing their content in a location where access is easily managed.  For others, it is used to perform many business critical functions.  There is advanced integration with the Office Suite, and many organizations enjoy the benefits of such things as managing workflows and approvals, creating project sites for collaboration, or building custom forms in InfoPath that can be filled out by customers and stored in an easily accessible location (although InfoPath is now on the chopping block for future Office releases).

My organization recently upgraded to SharePoint 2013 (the upgrade experience will be discussed in future blog posts), and it is clear that Microsoft is working to incorporate features that will help drive increased usage of this platform.

As is the case with almost all IT solutions, Microsoft is evolving SharePoint to try meet the needs of an increasingly demanding customer base.  In the latest versions, SharePoint 2013 or SharePoint Online for those who prefer to host their content in the cloud, there are new social features incorporating newsfeeds and “likes” for posts or content.  Additionally, there is increased development of the Microsoft PowerBI (business intelligence) and Windows 8 style applications which can be integrated into the platform.  Lastly, there is an added emphasis on the integration of Microsoft’s business social media platform Yammer, which provides a very complimentary tool.

While SharePoint is the leader in the field of enterprise business collaboration tools, it is not the only game in town.  Google Docs has been growing rapidly since its inception, and other platforms such as Basecamp are building market share.

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