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SharePoint Goes Strategic

Since its initial release, SharePoint has always been something of an enigma. In the early days, the common response to "What can SharePoint do for my business?" was "Whatever you want it to." Probably not the Microsoft-sanctioned response, but true enough.

The challenge for many SharePoint partners has been to convince enterprise customers that the solution is more than a document repository. SharePoint 2013 takes a huge leap forward in functionality, and Microsoft has been laying the groundwork to prepare partners for a more structured and strategic approach to deployment in the enterprise. 

Bringing Structure to the Message
There have been several attempts to bring structure -- the kind of structure that enterprise organizations want -- to the flexibility of SharePoint. First, with SharePoint Deployment Planning Services, which is still a popular way for partners to help customers create a grander plan for SharePoint's role in the business. Next came Business-Critical SharePoint (BCSP), which, according to Microsoft's Web site, was designed to "improve visibility, productivity and compliance across the enterprise with advanced SharePoint solutions."  

"The BCSP premise is that SharePoint can serve as an enterprise-wide knowledge management system or work platform providing a single source of information across the organization," said Eric Riz, executive vice president of Concatenate Inc. "The BCSP value comes through surfacing up business-critical line-of-business data from the legacy systems into SharePoint."

As a SharePoint MVP, Riz dedicates much of his time to spreading the message of SharePoint as a strategic tool rather than a point solution. Over time, his audiences have changed from primarily IT professionals to operations-focused VPs and CEOs.

"SharePoint is a place where business gets done," Riz explains to his audiences. "Understanding that people can complete their job functions in SharePoint changes the perception from a place that you go to get stuff, to the place that you go to do work."

Integrated Collaboration and Communication
Figuring out how to manage the explosion of internal communication options is another hot topic for enterprise organizations. The number of ways -- from IM to Lync to Twitter to Yammer -- that employees can send messages to one another has ballooned, leading to fragmentation. The convergence of Office365, SharePoint and Yammer holds the promise of a uniform platform for enterprise social engagement and communication.

"I think the buyer is becoming more educated on the value of an integrated system of collaboration and communication and Microsoft has recognized that," Riz said. "There has been a paradigm shift from the technical decision to the strategic decision."

While there has been tremendous change in the partner approach and opportunity with SharePoint over the past few years, there is clearly more to come. The shift in conversation from technical to strategic can only be good for partners in finding their place to build value to customers through services.

How are you delivering the SharePoint message? Add a comment below or send me a note and let's share your story.

Posted by Barb Levisay on November 07, 2013