The journey to SharePoint 2013 as an information governance solution in the cloud

February 5th, 2013   

By Simon Cole, CTO and Co-Founder of Automated Intelligence

It’s day one of the European SharePoint Conference in Copenhagen where we are showcasing our information governance and mobile solutions for SharePoint 2013. That’s given me some time to reflect on the journey that SharePoint has been on and what has led us (Automated Intelligence) to this point. I’m unfortunately old enough to remember all of the releases of SharePoint and even worked on some of the earlier products that eventually morphed into SharePoint (Microsoft Site Server).

I am on the right with my colleague Nigel Cunningham on our stand (stand 79) at the European SharePoint Conference

I am on the right with my colleague Nigel Cunningham on our stand (stand 79) at the European SharePoint Conference

The SharePoint Journey…

SharePoint from its inception has steadily evolved from a content management tool into the most used collaboration platform. Most ECM vendors have over the past 9 or so years either tried to compete with it or integrate with it usually with poor results. In the earlier days the requirement to meet regulatory or governance policies that many organisations faced prevented them from relying on the governance functionality that SharePoint provided. SharePoint 2010 started to change that, with a much more robust Records Center, SharePoint was coming of age. However as a single global product it is not feasible for it to meet all of the various records management standards, and that is the capability that we provide to assist our customers meet their governance and management requirements with SharePoint.

A new approach – SharePoint as an end to end information governance solution

Just 3 years ago, as SharePoint 2010 was launching, Mark (CEO and co-founder) and I sat in a motorway service station discussing the need that SharePoint had for a made to measure set of extensions to allow SharePoint to be used as an end to end information governance solution.

Many of the legacy records management systems were/are expensive, not user friendly (or simply unusable!) and difficult to manage. Customers were/are looking for a new approach with a desire to achieve a cost effective, simple and user friendly solution using SharePoint.  In the last 3 years we have helped many customers realise this goal and helped drive the evolution of the market to a new level.

Market demands are changing again, with social and cloud dynamics changing how people interact and use information. We are aware that most organisations now see information as a service to be consumed in a cost effective, simple and safe fashion, long gone are the days of the large and slow software implementation projects and the associated costs. Good riddance we say! That is why we have we have designed and developed solutions that are consumed easily with no interruption or lengthy deployment cycles.

View video showing new approach with Automated Intelligence

So what’s new in SharePoint 2013…

Back to SharePoint… It’s clear to see that Microsoft are focusing on the same strategy and much of the new functionality in SharePoint 2013 is focused around those messages:

  • Visually it’s different, not just in the graphical design sense. The user interface is scaled back, there is less information on screen allowing users to focus on the information they need. This positively impacts the page download speed (which users will appreciate). New technology also minimises page reloads, which again is a positive step forward.
  • SharePoint has a new social engine which allows users to share information easily, discover corporate expertise and collaborate with peers and co-workers in multiple new ways
  • Search is better integrated. With FAST search now fully embedded as the default SharePoint search solution, users will benefit from faster more relevant results. In addition the new drill down query based navigation and relevant information and people searches encourage better collaboration and access to corporate knowledge.
  • With the strong push for Office365 and cloud based adoption, not to mention the new more frequent product releases, Microsoft has firmly backed a cloud first strategy that is in step with a service driven delivery approach that fits with industry and market focus.

So where does this leave us and what’s next…

SharePoint has evolved, and will continue to, with the new faster release model it will be interesting to watch how the market and ecosystem will react to more regular and quicker product updates.

The core capabilities, the security model, the metadata model and the record center are all still fundamentally the same with SharePoint 2013 as they were with SharePoint 2010 (with some small enhancements). This allows organisations to easily migrate to the new versions and maintain the integrity of their data.

Future versions of SharePoint will likely see some of the new foundations being built upon. Infant features such as the new Site Workbox functionality will no doubt evolve to encourage better team collaboration around email.

Connectivity to other corporate data sources will continue to evolve and see SharePoint become not just a collaboration platform but a central intelligence and corporate information management portal.

For us and our customers SharePoint 2013 still requires those additional extensions for better information governance and compliance and offers new opportunities to enable organisations to consume their information efficiently as a service, whether in a cloud (Office 365), on-premise or a hybrid of both.