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SharePoint is Not a ‘Document Coffin’

Jeff Schick, Vice President of Social Software at IBM, recently proclaimed to a crowd of more than 1,000 developers, clients, and media at Lotusphere 2012 that the enterprise content management system (CMS) was good for little beyond storing documents. Specifically, Schick was quoted as stating that “Content at rest is expensive, content in motion is valuable. Unfortunately, a lot of CMS today are just expensive vaults. SharePoint is today’s document coffin.”

I can understand where Schick is coming from, namely, that he is trying to position his “social software” at IBM. Firstly, I’d like to point out to Schick that Microsoft® SharePoint® 2010 isn’t just a CMS, and does indeed have social features that are unaware to most. Furthermore, the ability to follow colleagues and monitor what they are contributing in terms of content through the Activity Feed and the ability to rate, tag and comment on content is also widespread across the platform’s user interface. Microsoft executives should be proud that its colleagues at IBM are raising these statements about SharePoint 2010 so publicly, as it clearly shows that IBM is very worried.

As expected, these inflammatory comments have led to plenty of passionate response. I highly recommend reading a follow-up blog post on the discussion from Laurence Hart, Chief Information Officer at the enterprise content management non-profit Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM).

I’m impressed with IBM’s openness on its social platform supporting the OpenSocial framework, something I believe Microsoft should focus on in terms of integration with other products. My personal opinion is that in order for SharePoint 2010 to continue to succeed, Microsoft must focus on core, mature platform areas (such as Document Management, Collaboration, Search and Portals) and leave some of the other weaker areas (such as Discussion Forums and Blogs) to best-of-breed products with which it can integrate.

I would agree that any CMS can be a “document coffin” without the correct Governance policy in place. The series of articles I’m writing here on DocAve.com about accountability, quality, appropriateness, restrictions, and more to come really does highlight the issues we see in SharePoint governance today. With that said, these are also common issues across all CMS platforms – including IBM’s Lotus Notes – though we’ve seen many of our customers looking to migrate from these legacy platforms to SharePoint 2010.

One of the key things that I discuss with our customers is the lifecycle of content – from creation to disposal. I know it all sounds very “records management” focused but, for the sake of governance, content lifecycle is vitally important regardless of legal compliance or other records management drivers.

So how do you start? We recommend you understand how to keep content “valuable” in order to try and prevent the “expense” of content. In this aim, AvePoint offers the following products to create a proper lifecycle for your content with DocAve:
· Archiver: Archive SharePoint 2010 content – including entire site collections or individual document versions – to tiered storage based on customizable business rules. Archiving SharePoint content in accordance with your organizational content lifecycle or records management policies helps to increase database performance, keep storage costs in check, and reduce compliance risk by enabling consistent disposition of content.
· Storage Manager: Storage Manager is our Remote Binary Large Object (BLOB) storage provider for SharePoint 2010 that allows you to leverage hierarchical storage management systems instead of expensive SQL content databases to store SharePoint BLOBs.
· Compliance Reporting: Run advanced auditing reports on your SharePoint 2010 content that will reveal any activity on content, including who has created, read, modified, and checked out content.
· Content Manager: Content Manager allows you to manage all of your content organization, restructuring, and management for SharePoint 2010 as your deployment continues to evolve and grow in scope.

To complement these tools, we will soon release Governance Automation to take the content lifecycle to yet another level with true accountability back to the people responsible for the content. Governance Automation will reach out to these people based on lease expiration, inactivity on sites and allow actionable requests to delete or archive sites through an approval process.

What do you think? Is SharePoint a document coffin in your opinion? Feel free to leave me a comment here or follow me on Twitter (@jthake).

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