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The truth about SharePoint

Earlier this year, Bill Gates reported that there are some 100 million seats to the various SharePoint products around the world. That’s right: 100 million! Gates went on to add that SharePoint had generated more than $1 billion for Microsoft.

Immediately, as expected, analysts and others questioned those figures. So, maybe there aren’t 100 million seats out there. Let’s take 10 percent away for the sake of discussion—that’s still 90 million—and if it isn’t $1 billion in revenue, it’s certainly hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of million dollars. We can debate the numbers, but, clearly, SharePoint is virtually ubiquitous, and demand continues. Countless vendors have developed connectors for SharePoint—and at least one large open source content management provider has created what it claims is a truly viable alternative—and a host of independent firms have launched to provide SharePoint-exclusive services.

SharePoint promises a number of services (even more than its so-call "six pillars"), but it doesn’t necessarily deliver on all those promises to the extent customers hope or expect. With that in mind, at the end of August, KMWorld held a joint Webinar with CMSWatch, the leading vendor-neutral analyst firm in the country, to address exactly what people can expect from SharePoint. Regular readers of this magazine know CMSWatch from articles contributed by founder Tony Byrne and principals Theresa Regli and Alan Pelz-Sharpe.

Nearly 1,000 people—from every imaginable type of business and from 20 different countries—registered to the Webinar, which was designed as a preview of the full-day SharePoint Symposium held on Sept. 26 as part of our annual KMWorld & Intranets Conference in San Jose (you can register to attend the day of the event, and you can view the archived Webinar by going to kmworld.com/Webinars/Default.aspx).

We believe our audience to be quite representative of the industry as a whole, so we posed a few questions to them and discovered that about 44 percent of them had deployed SharePoint 2007 (either MOSS or WSS), while 56 percent had not done so (at least yet). And we asked their impressions of the most valuable service SharePoint provides them: Collaboration took the top spot, with about 43 percent selecting that capability. Next came content management, with almost 31 percent, followed by business forms/intelligence with 6.2 percent.

If you look at our "Industry Snapshop" on page 1, you’ll notice that the audience hasn’t found the much-ballyhooed search capabilities to be completely sufficient—only 5.3 percent said they were "very satisfied." Our poll showed that only 2.7 percent found SharePoint’s greatest value as an Application Development Platform. Finally, a bit more than 13 percent cited "none of the above" apparently because they were pretty dissatisfied with SharePoint as a whole or they didn’t like the question.

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