What A Company Needs
Businesses have to keep up with the technical progress. Things change fast in the globalized environment, and each change brings new challenges as well as new opportunities. Ironically, gathering and processing information grew quite complicated in the era of information technologies. An average modern organization has too much data coming from inner and outer sources to get processed manually. Avoiding to solve this problem will quite probably cause loss of valuable knowledge which otherwise would help to increase productivity or reduce business risks.
Two things are important when solving this difficulty. First is to find a really good software solution for your specific business needs. The second one is about compatibility. A mature company typically has a well-built IT infrastructure; its network configuration and legacy software can narrow the range of options when installing a new solution. Of course the installation must lead to overall increase in productivity, so a new solution a company is to adopt should be able to integrate seamlessly with the existing infrastructure.
As a Microsoft product, SharePoint platform is naturally compatible with Windows-based systems. Given that Windows usage is dominant in the global enterprise software sector, it is generally easier to incorporate SharePoint into a company’s network. This helps with the second problem described above. A successful company will usually act in a conservative way being concerned about NOT damaging its performance by any changes in the IT infrastructure. That’s why compatibility matters.
Situation In The Niche
Backed by the power of the computer industry giant, SharePoint platform was doomed to initial attention of its prospective corporate users. Since its first appearance in the ECM software market, the platform’s popularity grew. Today SharePoint makes MS one of the indisputable leaders of this niche. Gartner’s Magic Quadrant report for 2012 puts it into the leading trio together with Oracle and IBM (see Figure 1).
A number of the platform’s strong features were named in the report including the following:
- User-friendliness: as most Windows systems, SharePoint is strongly oriented towards end users; its design is close to the general MS Office style which makes it easier for starters to manage the solution;
- Growth of the feature set: functional range of the platform’s version increases as new editions are released, making it more helpful for different types of corporate data management;
- Concentration on knowledge sharing: Gartner’s experts point out SharePoint’s high dedication to enterprise collaboration and knowledge exchange which currently gives its customers more options than competitive solutions do;
- Customization options: last but not the least – SharePoint platform provides rich opportunities for additional tools & apps development so each company can have a highly specific ECM system for its needs; though Gartner warns that this may eventually result in a too big complexity.
The Magic Of Flexibility
The Gartner’s review was based on customers’ reaction to SharePoint 2010, and so were the strong features listed above. The most recent SharePoint 2013 version has some extra improvements:
- Advanced sites: basic collaboration units – sites – have improved functionality for sharing knowledge within intranet, inside corporate VPNs and on the Internet; a lot of different document types can be shared; at the same time general simplicity of usage is maintained;
- FAST search engine: users can search inside sites, communities, metadata etc.;
- Enhanced browser integration: all major modern browsers are supported so the range of options for knowledge sharing is even larger;
- Cloud: SharePoint 2012 is available as an on premise solution or as a private/public software-as-a-service subscription.
The general impact of these feature improvements can be described as reaching higher level of flexibility for the system. SharePoint 2013 can be used for pure intranet collaboration as well as for websites building. It can be acquired as a desktop installation or used remotely by a public cloud subscription. Finally, the rich set of customization tools makes it possible to incorporate various apps from independent vendors into a specific SharePoint installation.