SharePoint first appeared in 2001. The service was focused on "solving" a file sharing challenge that many organizations experience. More than a decade later, firms still struggle with basic file sharing, but SharePoint has evolved into so much more.
I've written about SharePoint's collaboration ubiquity when the 2013 version was released. In the four years since, little has changed in the overall narrative. In fact, what is old is new again, starting with the challenges SharePoint seeks to overcome.
SharePoint is every bit the file sharing solution from whence it originated and more. Documents and "list items" are neatly organized into libraries and lists. These lists and libraries are housed in sites. Sites, in turn, are further grouped into Site Collections. All of which form the nuggety SharePoint core we know and love. If you want to find a file you or someone else contributed, search has evolved significantly, but remains a sore point for many users. Want to hide or restrict content access to a select user group? That's no problem, though Active Directory rules the authentication landscape. The real question is what's changed, and importantly, what's to come?
Microsoft recently hosted their Ignite conference. As is tradition, Microsoft showcased a number of platform improvements and highlighted all of the great work their product teams produced. For SharePoint's part, a lot of improvements centered on the continued evolution within Office 365. Sue Hanley wrote a terrific article on the myriad of new features coming to SharePoint Online. The most striking non-announcement is that SharePoint is cloud first. While not a surprise, this truism was far less true in all previous years and it's an important detail for all organizations - if you aren't cloud ready, you will wait (or never get) for most new SharePoint features. If you are cloud ready, what else should you recognize?
SharePoint permeates Office 365 like your spine supports your body. Key Office 365 features like Groups, OneDrive, and Teams depend on or are directly integrated with SharePoint. If you want to find content, SharePoint's search gave birth to the services that enable "findability" in Delve - though Microsoft significant investment in machine learning have taken search to a new level. Finally, metadata is configured through the Term Store and usable both in SharePoint and OneDrive - and by extension any tool that saves content to either.
SharePoint has become the ultimate content service. From it's humble file-sharing origins, Microsoft has crafted a truly enterprise service. While the Redmond giant may have waffled occasionally in it's focus (e.g. powering web sites with SharePoint), SharePoint's heart remains unchanged. Today, it's simply the Goliath in Office 365, as well as in the market; many supposed David's have in fact fallen victim to its depth and breadth.
If you're still trying to figure out what SharePoint has become, join me at the SharePoint Symposium. The conference is co-located with KMWorld in Washington DC on 8 & 9 December 2017. I'm participating in two sessions - "Stump The SharePoint Guru" and "Assessing The State Of Collaboration In Office 365."
SharePoint empowers teamwork with dynamic and productive team sites for every project team, department, and division. Share files, data, news, and resources. Customize your site to streamline your team’s work. Collaborate effortlessly and securely with team members inside and outside your organization, across PCs, Macs, and mobile devices.