Findings of the report

In one of the recent articles from Gartner, the trusted analysts, Microsoft SharePoint and the Gartner magic quadrant in 2013 position remains unchanged in 2013, in the ‘challengers’ space from last year. So whilst it may have a good ‘ability to execute’, it’s felt by Gartner that it’s ‘completeness of vision’ isn’t as strong as others in this space. There is in fact very little change for all the major players in all the quadrants, save for one or two movers and leavers.


Figure 1Gartner magic quadrant in 2013

Though SharePoint is recognised as being deployed in some capacity in the majority of Gartner’s own clients in their commentary, this is more likely to be in its stronghold, which is that of internal deployments.

In the WCM space SharePoint has always been playing catch up to more establish players since it introduced broader capability in this space a few releases ago. Arguably with its inclusion of FAST search capabilities, it’s made some improvements in the latest 2013 release, but the wider feature set is still some way behind in areas around digital marketing and personalisation.

Licensing has however been made more attractive in the latest release for public facing websites. We tend also to agree that its WCM offering in the hosted space through Office365 is somewhat limited in comparison to its on premise capabilities and obviously competitors. Though it remains to be seen with more frequent updates to cloud based versions promised (every three months instead of 3 years), whether or not this position will change.

What next for SharePoint 2013?

We think arguably its recent focus on social engagement capabilities (as seen in SharePoint 2013), through its purchase of Yammer and in particular the move to the cloud for many of its products & services, suggest these will be a key focus of their efforts in the coming period. Tight integration with other applications like Exchange, Lync and operating system and Office suite, confirm its continued importance of ‘owning’ the desktop and internal environments.

Feel free to comment on the article, we’re always happy to engage in dialogue and debate.

 

Posted in SharePoint 2013, SharePoint Business Case, Yammer | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Business as usual (BAU) service

It’s a sign of a sensible and mature approach discussing planning for a SharePoint  ‘business as usual’ service, at the beginning of the project and not as an afterthought following launch.

Microsoft SharePoint has become the de-facto standard for many medium to large enterprises over the last 3 years, with many of the most recognised brands investing in the popular technology in some capacity. Although a couple of years old, the following visual we think, speaks for itself.

Planning for a SharePoint ‘Business as usual’ service?
View full image

What those numbers won’t tell you is how many SharePoint projects have failed to deliver the perceived benefits, much touted at the beginning.

A significant reason for this we think is an often overlook aspect of deployments we come across, which is that of budgeting for the activities, processes and resources that will be need to be in place, when SharePoint becomes a ‘business as usual’ (BAU) service, following its launch.

It’s often all about what it takes to implement the platform, not what it will take to support, maintain and derive the most out it in the future. Hence why we recommend you absolutely have this in your plans, even if you scale back your ambitions due to time or budget constraints.

What should you plan for?

Planning and delivering a robust BAU service can be a large, expensive and challenging activity and the success of which is in our experience is largely driven by some of the following:

  • The demands of the business stakeholders – What type of support service do they want? What are the response times to calls?
  • Scale of the budgets (heavily influenced by the size of the organisation) – How much can they afford to fund in addition to the existing project deliverables?
  • Success factors agreed by the project stakeholders and sponsors – Is the BAU support service one of the key measures?
  • How seriously the business aligns this service (and underlying technology) to its strategic objectives – Is this a tactical solution or of strategic importance that needs to be back by a robust investment profile?
  • The approach taken to implementing and planning for change after it’s launched – How have you approached the topic of governance, how do you plan to manage change? Who will own platform roadmap from the business (it shouldn’t be IT!)
  • …and arguably the local teams own skills and experience on what to plan and provide for here – What resources and skills do we have and or need? How do we manage change requests for the platform – think content, configuration and custom (three types of change on a SharePoint platform).

This can be something as simple as providing some administrator training to your existing support staff to deal calls and resolve them. To something a lot more involved around working with existing but outsourced operational and tactical support teams who are working with ITIL or other service and support frameworks, or a full blown team of internal resources often referred to a ‘Centre of Excellence’.

The latter’s existence is a relatively immature model, but is often underpinned by some form of platform steering committee. Its primary objective is to deliver a rounded service that thinks and acts both strategically and operationally in managing the platform, both on the day to day aspects, but also the future manageability and roadmap updates to the SharePoint platform. This is often joined up with related technologies like Microsoft Exchange and Lync services under the same ‘collaborative’ roof, with many larger organisations and is something we’ve been working with actively in setting up with some of our larger clients for several years now.

So in summary, introducing some form of BAU service is something you need to actively consider from the outset of your planning, and budget accordingly. If you don’t, you will seriously damage the credibility of the platform to be taken on by the business, as they will need support on an on-going basis, which if not received, will force them back to their previous ways of working or something else entirely.

If you are looking for advice on understanding more about this topic, get in touch by email or give us call with further details.

Posted in SharePoint, SharePoint 2013, SharePoint Business Case, SharePoint Governance | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

What are the Yammer and SharePoint integration options?

With there being different versions of SharePoint available today and when you initially read into this area, there are perhaps not as many Yammer and SharePoint integration options as you might think or importantly want to satisfy your business ‘social engagement’ needs.

Because Yammer is a ‘cloud’ based offering and it cannot be installed on local hardware, this restricts the options  available to you. This is because those responsible for the overall service are looking to manage the robustness and availability of the platform and hence they need to minimise the risk of disrupting the service by only allowing particular integration scenarios.

That said, we think there are still some viable options for integrating your Yammer and SharePoint content together.

yammer and SharePoint integration

Why should Yammer be of interest to you,  if you already have SharePoint?

Answer: Yammer provides you with a “secure, private ‘social network’ that enables SharePoint to be more social and engaging”. Simply put, it provides you with a layer of functionality not available inside older versions like SharePoint 2007 or 2010 (though a degree of overlap does now exist in SharePoint 2013, more on this later).  It also does not perhaps provide as much deeply embedded functionality as say Newsgator or Telligent, but then these require a greater degree of impact on your existing platform, (read costs and risks associated with the software installed on your local servers).

For those with internally hosted environments, it doesn’t always require any server side software to be installed on your servers, and for Office365 users with SharePoint there are also some options too. Office365 will see more capabilities in the coming months being made available as Microsoft, which bought Yammer last year works to integrate Yammer into its wider online offerings.

The options

Following the attendance of the Yammer on Tour (YOT) session in London last month, we reviewed the position in relation to using Yammer, with existing versions of SharePoint. There are essentially three options available and are described as follows:

1. Primary Yammer web part

Provides the highest degree of integration with both feeds, private messages, notifications and integration with the SharePoint ‘ribbon’ – (only available to standard alone, Enterprise/SharePoint Online/Office365 customers, and will require lightweight server side installation for the web part to be made available).

2. Light ‘embedded’ web part

Provides ability to place a feed from your Yammer pages, inside a SharePoint team site. This can be from any group feed and also be placed inside your mysite area too (available to any customer, but doesn’t require server side installation for the web part to be made available, if done manually for each user).

3. Search (federated/hybrid) results from both locations

Ability for your SharePoint platform to ‘surface’ Yammer results inside your search results page (requires lightweight server side installation for the web part to be made available on your search results page).

When should you consider using Yammer?

  • If you’re considering introducing social engagement tools and you have SharePoint already, then certainly consider this as part of your review
  • If you’re looking to reduce the amount of email traffic in your organisation
  • If you’re looking for a quick, affordable solution to allow you to collaborate and communicate quickly with your customers
  • If you’re considering introducing an extranet capability, this can be a low cost, secure and feature rich platform to use to share securely information and improve communication with your suppliers.

Benefits

  • Introduce an enterprise social networking capability accessed from inside your existing SharePoint based intranet at a low cost
  • No need to provide additional hardware or supporting infrastructure
  • Provide Yammer feeds inside existing SharePoint team sites to provide group conversations, including mysites
  • Yammer conversations can appear in search results inside SharePoint
  • Multiple mobile device support (not readily found for SharePoint platforms it has to be said!)
  • Single sign on for both applications is possible
  • Still not convinced? Watch this 2 minute video, whilst it’s not Yammer, it illustrates perfectly how social collaboration tools can work to your advantage.

Need more information? There is a Yammer post  here about the interaction between Yammer and SharePoint integration options.

Conclusion

With Microsoft buying Yammer last year, the announcements at the SPC2012 conference & more recently the Yammer on Tour (YOT) that we attended, it’s pretty clear Yammer will be integrated throughout all of their Office365 offerings as a priority. There will be no on-premise version of Yammer for you to install locally.

This will inevitably pose questions of where your documents will be stored, on your local SharePoint servers or in the Yammer cloud? For those with SharePoint 2013, which has many new social networking features similar to those we wrote about today, which one should you use?

There are answers here and we can help you work through them. But it will depend on several factors that need to be discussed in respect of where you are now with your organisational culture, appetite for change, together with legislative and other constraints that will have a bearing on the decisions you take. It’s by no means the same answer for everyone, especially during the transition  whilst Microsoft integrate Yammer into its other offerings.

Yammer absolutely offers an opportunity to introduce significant efficiencies across the board with the way you work, as well as how you interact with your colleagues, suppliers and customers alike. Get in touch with us today if you have a query about how Yammer can work with SharePoint or if you need help build the business case for Yammer with SharePoint.

Posted in Extranet, SharePoint, SharePoint 2010, SharePoint 2013, Yammer | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment