Saturday, October 17, 2009

How can we explain SharePoint?

I posted this article in another blog but thought it might be of interest to Excel experts as well. There is another post in this blog explaining the SharePoint-Excel interaction.

I always sympathize with SharePoint professionals when reading articles about their difficulties in answering the question: “What do you do for a living”? After thinking it over and over, I decided to rephrase the question. I asked myself, “What will eventually be the TLR (Three Letter Acronym) for SharePoint-like applications?

I have never been satisfied with my own explanations of SharePoint, even with my latest strategy to ask the person about his or her IT knowledge before I formulate my response. I see people nodding their heads, but in most cases I feel I didn’t convey the message well enough.

Thinking about a TLR, the first thing that comes to mind is the equivalent ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning). The name is intuitively perceived as a package of related applications that support end-to-end the enterprises’ operations. But it took 10 to 15 years until this TLR became the standard everyone uses and understands. Previously, there had been MRP, Logistics, Shipping, Financial, HR and other disparate applications.

So what do we package here? SharePoint supports several relatively independent processes. It combines what was before Portal, EDM (Enterprise Document Management), ECM (Enterprise Content Management), WCM (Web Content Management), team collaboration, activity tracking and even connectivity extensions to backend systems. We will probably see more Social Network support coming soon. Since companies usually need more than one of these applications, why not use the same tool and save on maintenance?

What can be a reasonable common denominator for all these processes? I think that the phrase “Knowledge Sharing” is pretty close to what they do. Prefix it with the E for Enterprise which is important, accurate - and also sells, and you get EKS – Enterprise Knowledge Sharing.

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