7000+ people showed up for the SharePoint Conference in Las Vegas. The conference was overbooked and many more people wanted to attend but couldn’t.
Why all this demand for what amounts to be a large product pitch? Because the enterprise collaboration space is white hot right now with many companies looking to leverage collaboration suites to reduce their costs and increase worker productivity.
There are three basic feature pillars Microsoft is promoting in 2010.
- Social Computing Features
- Business Intelligence and Dashboards
- User/Team Page and Workspace Configuration
Social Computing Features:
I like the new content rating system. It allows users to rate content (like documents, lists, and content) and store the ratings in a database. No word yet on if the ratings influence the search results.
The implicit tagging feature (if it works as advertised) is destined to be an important feature. The ability to suggest tags and experts from context is something that has been missing from most Enterprise 2.0 technology solutions. On its surface, implicit tagging doesn’t appear to be important unless you’ve been in a large corporation with vast amounts of information stored on the intranet. Finding content and experts in those situations are near impossible. This feature will help tremendously.
Business Intelligence, Dashboards and Scorecards
Called Insight, the new BI and Dashboard tools have been improved. Excel integration is easier and better with additional claims that Excel URL’s are RESTful which means you can commit an action via an URL post. Excel is then updated on every property simultaneously because a single version of truth (their term not mine) is stored on the SharePoint server.
Other dashboard and scoreboarding features include new indicators that help managers quickly zero in on problems.
And task indicators that show progress and completed tasks.
The SharePoint team is relying heavily on the Excel integration to drive the dashboards and scorecarding. Apparently, Excel 2010 will allow users to manipulate and quickly segment 100 millions rows of data. That will eliminate some of the need for data storage in databases and open up data access to the masses.
Another great feature is the ability to pivot data in real time and update dashboards and scorecards automatically. In fact, you can right click in the browser to drill down into the data (decomposition tree for the technical crowd) to see where and how the data originates. This tool creates a contextual dashboard that is updated based on the data displayed. Very powerful.
User/Team Page and Workspace Configuration
The SharePoint team skimmed this topic but I heard it loud and clear. Microsoft is making it very easy to generate content on SharePoint without the need for IT. They are attempting to cross the IT chasm into the rich world of business users with deeper pockets.
I’m impressed by how easy it is to customize a workspace. Each department or team can have a unique personality which enhances the user experience (thus more adoption). I don’t know the extent of the customization (beta is to be released next month) but it appears you can edit the space extensively. In fact, pulling in themes from other Office appears to be simple.
There is of course a lot more I didn’t cover in this review. Including visual upgrades, IT management tools for SharePoint, monitoring the health of SharePoint, and so on. It’s a promising start for SharePoint 2010, the beta is coming out shortly followed by a Q2 2010 formal launch.
Complimentary companies and products are wise to build a SharePoint connector or at least have a compelling SharePoint integration story to tell. SharePoint 2010 appears to have some legs (outside of IT) and will raise the tide for all vendors in the space.
The main reason SharePoint and other enterprise collaboration vendors are having considerable success is that it’s easier to create high ROI collaborative sites today than any other time in history.
Note: For another perspective please read Oliver Mark’s review.
(Cross-posted @ Seek Omega)