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Microsoft SharePoint: 7 Ways To Achieve More

SharePoint is used by most of the Fortune 500 -- so why do we still hate it so much? Here's how to make Microsoft's intranet platform work better for you.

Michael Endler

November 15, 2013

3 Min Read

4. If you're a current SharePoint 2010 user, SharePoint 2013 offers major enhancements.
SharePoint Server 2010 is the most commonly deployed version of the product; as of last summer, Forrester said almost 80 percent of SharePoint users were running Server 2010. But SharePoint Server 2013 and SharePoint Online combined for 31 percent of users at the time, so Microsoft is doing a decent job moving customers to its newest platforms, even if some deployments aren't yet company-wide. More than 65 percent said they planned to use SharePoint Server 2013 in the next 12 months, and another 28 percent said they plan to use SharePoint Online.

What is Microsoft offering to move customers along? SharePoint 2013 steps fully into the cloud, which will be a big factor for some companies (see below). But it offers a variety of enhancements. They include: improved people-finding, activity-tracking and search capabilities; push notifications, HTML 5 support and other additions aimed at mobile users; support for third-party design software, SEO tags that don't require coding, and other tweaks to make SharePoint sites easier for non-developers; and the introduction of an app marketplace, which could help companies mitigate pains with custom code as they get their SharePoint systems up and running.

5. How you use SharePoint depends on your attitude toward the cloud. Using SharePoint in the cloud could lower infrastructure costs and improve agility, but for many businesses, the cloud can't match the security of on-premises, bare-metal servers. This attitude is still in flux, with many businesses finding a happy medium in hybrid clouds.

SharePoint customers who are ready and willing to embrace cloud technologies will find that Microsoft's newest versions are more in keeping with their goals. That said, Forrester found that nearly three in 10 SharePoint customers do not consider cloud deployments an option -- another reminder that the product is not a "one size fits all" solution that all customers can use in similar ways.

6. You might need to round out SharePoint with third-party solutions. Although SharePoint contains a variety of built-in tools, some are difficult to use or not complete enough to meet all needs. For these, a variety of third-party add-ons have developed over the years, with SharePoint 2013's app marketplace opening the concept to new possibilities.

If one company acquires another, the purchasing party might need to integrate content from the purchased company's SharePoint and Active Directory data into its own systems. Rather than handling this manually, the company could employ a third-party abstraction layer via a product such as Radiant Logic's RadiantOne, which is advertised as a way to bring disparate data sources under a common naming structure, and thus to simplify organization and authentication.

Forrester survey data indicates that products from Nintex, NewsGator Technologies, AvePoint, Bamboo Solutions, Dell/Quest, and K2 are among the most commonly used third-party options for SharePoint.

7. Don't forget about alternatives.
Widely used as SharePoint is, it's not the only way to build corporate intranets, give employees access to documents, or foster collaboration. Many companies used competing projects, if not in place of SharePoint then as a complement.

In fact, Forrester's data indicates that only about half of SharePoint users are using SharePoint exclusively. DropBox is the SharePoint competitor to which businesses most often turn. Others such as Jive, Google Drive Box, and IBM Connections have also gained fans.

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About the Author(s)

Michael Endler

Associate Editor, InformationWeek.com

Michael Endler joined InformationWeek as an associate editor in 2012. He previously worked in talent representation in the entertainment industry, as a freelance copywriter and photojournalist, and as a teacher. Michael earned a BA in English from Stanford University in 2005 and, pending the completion of a long-gestating thesis, will hold an MA in Cinema Studies from San Francisco State.

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