Sunday, August 30, 2009

SharePoint survey results

I have been talking with Harry Brelsford from SMB Nation about the results from his recent SharePoint survey that he was kind enough to share with me. After going through all the results the most encouraging item I found was the following comment:

“We don't use Sharepoint. We hate it.”

Why would I ever say this is the most encouraging result? Simply it means one less reseller who going to bother with SharePoint. In essence this means there is more opportunity and revenue for me. Along the same lines here is another comment I find encouraging:

“I don't typically promote SharePoint unless my customer specifically asks for it.”

Excellent I say. Taking this attitude allows someone with SharePoint skills the potential to drive a wedge into the business by helping the customer understand the power that SharePoint can provide. Once another reseller has created a wedge within your customer, chances are it isn’t going to be the only thing they can leverage away from you.

The survey also illustrated to me that nearly everyone using or selling SharePoint still really doesn’t understand where the power of the product lies. Sure it is great at handling documents, knowledge, and structuring ad hoc data but in my mind the key aspect of SharePoint for any business comes down to one word – SEARCH.

Everyone knows that to find something on the Internet they use a search engine like Google or Bing. But what do they use to search their internal information? Wouldn’t you say that most businesses place greater value on their internal information than that found on the Internet? You bet they do, so where are the tools to search it?

SharePoint and Search Server Express allow you to index just about every document on your internal network and make it searchable, in many cases without having to change the location of the data. Now, here’s what separates the successful from the pack. Out of the box Windows SharePoint and Search Server Express don’t automatically index Office 2007 documents, Adobe PDF’s and the like. But guess what they can! Also, with the release of Windows Server 2008 R2 will also be able to index scanned documents.

I can’t see how this is really any different from other technologies, they all need tweaking to extract the most benefit. However most resellers simply throw their hands up and cry that it is all too hard, which as I said before is absolutely fantastic for me.

Another massive over sight by most resellers is the opportunity presented by combining OneNote with SharePoint. Firstly, many probably don’t realize that if you capture documents in OneNote they are automatically indexed (even graphic files). If that OneNote file resides on SharePoint (which has been configured correctly) guess what? That information also gets index by SharePoint. So using OneNote you can get just about any information into SharePoint and make it indexable for the business.

Even better, as a recent Microsoft case study on the combination of SharePoint and OneNote highlights:


“Essentially, we’re using Office OneNote 2007 to provide an intuitive, user-friendly interface to the SharePoint Server 2007 document library,” Gardner explains. All content added to or created in OneNote 2007 is stored in SharePoint Server 2007. Users can continue to work in shared OneNote 2007 notebooks even when they’re offline, and the notebooks synchronize automatically when the users connect to the network. “All of the complexities are managed in the background, so the user experience is seamless,” adds Gardner.


Utilizing OneNote as front end for SharePoint removes a huge amount of the complexity for users. It allows them to be productive much faster by using something that is breeze to understand. I can’t figure out why other people can’t see this as the following survey comment illustrates once again:

“MS examples tend to lean toward the enterprise and that just isn't the same.”

Because here is a Microsoft example, to my mind, of exactly the benefits SharePoint and OneNote provide to a large business that also apply equally as well to a small business.

The most common response to what I’ve said here is going to be ‘this is all well and good but obtaining all the information about customizing SharePoint is just too difficult’. Again I couldn’t agree more and I thank my stars every day that it is because it means only people who see the opportunity are going to take advantage of it and put in the effort to learn. Only people who see the opportunity are going to subscribe to my SharePoint Guide for only $299. Only people who see the opportunity are going to attend my sessions at SMB Nation 2009. The fewer of these people there are the more opportunity for my business.

The final good bit of news I took from the survey was the following comment:

“Robert Crane's guides rock”

At least I know someone else out there understands it like I do and to them I say thank you and I look forward to providing you with more way to make money with SharePoint.