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The impact of SharePoint 2010’s new features in 2011

With SharePoint 2010 being released last year (time flies when you are having fun!) I thought that it would be interesting to have a quick look back and see some of the trends that seem to be emerging in the SharePoint space.

SharePoint 2010 has been well received and closely tied to the release of the Office 2010 suite (which provides significant integration capabilities.) Analyst reports on SharePoint 2010 have also been very positive. The Gartner Magic Quadrant releases have SharePoint very well poised in areas such as Enterprise Content Management, Horizontal Portals and Workplace Social Software.

Personally, I have seen huge appetite for the platform from organizations ranging in size, across multiple verticals, and with vastly differing needs. As the platform has grown in size and breadth, it seems that organizations are now looking at the new features it offers with renewed optimism at the many business challenges that may be solved.

Here are some of the trends that have emerged since SP2010's release last year.

Impact of Social Tools

Social capabilities like tagging, ratings, notes, and the new user profiles are the most heavily adopted feature of the platform. Surprisingly, before the release of SharePoint 2010 social software within organizations was relatively unknown. However, over the last year this has changed completely as studies have shown that there are many tangible benefits to internal social networking, including increased employee engagement, knowledge sharing, and innovation.

As clients take this step into the seemingly unknown, SharePoint 2010 offers the perfect platform to institute social capabilities. However, other non-technical challenges still need to be addressed. Social tools can be powerful, but some organizations have a difficult time implementing the correct governance and training needed to be successful.

Rethinking Enterprise Content Management

Enterprise Content Management (ECM) features such as metadata management, records management, digital asset management, and others are significantly improved in SharePoint 2010 and this has caused many organizations to rethink the way that ECM is being approached.

Where SharePoint is being used primarily for a collaboration platform, supplemented by external systems for more traditional ECM needs such as storage and retention, organizations are now considering either a more integrated or consolidated ECM system around SharePoint.

Many traditional third party vendors offer tight integration with SharePoint 2010, either through their own implementation or through common standards such as CMIS. Alternatively, organizations can standardize on SP2010 for all their ECM needs, utilizing the new features. In particular, Records Management and managing of large files has been vastly improved — making organizations think about their ECM strategy going forward.

Integrating External Data

One of the most touted new features within SharePoint 2010 is the new Business Connectivity Services (BCS) framework which makes it easy to incorporate external data into SharePoint 2010. This integration can provide a completely new experience to users interacting with legacy systems. (It essentially uses the SharePoint UI to interact with external systems.)

BCS has been embraced by many organizations because of the flexibility that it can offer in terms of integration with SharePoint 2010. Using BCS, organizations can keep external data systems outside of SharePoint, but leverage SharePoint capabilities to interact with these systems. Additionally this external data can be used within SharePoint to be able to easily create composite applications or mashups. Expect to see even more being done with BCS within the year!

Office 2010 Integration

The Office 2010 platform is a crucial part of the SharePoint 2010 ecosystem and organizations adopting the SP2010 platform are frequently upgrading to Office 2010.

The integration between the 2010 version of each product is vastly superior to using Office 2007 / SP2010 combination. A frequent issue is the lack of Managed Metadata support in the Office 2007 client, a vital part of the ECM framework within SharePoint 2010.

However, Office 2010 also offers many other advantages, such as SharePoint Workspace 2010, allowing entire SharePoint 2010 sites to be taken offline, real-time collaborative editing with Word 2010, and a whole host of other features. The combination of Office and SharePoint 2010 seems to be a very powerful combination that has been embraced in the marketplace.

It will be interesting to see how the platform evolves this year. Personally, I think that we will start to see the new Office 365 make an impact. I also expect to see a whole host of third party applications start to supplement some of the workloads that SharePoint offers, and some of the less frequently mentioned new features (Access and Visio Services) to also start making an impact.

As always it is exciting times on a technical level, but even more so from a business perspective as we start to see the value provided by this powerful platform.