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.


There are so many worthy charities these days and everyone has their own preferences but for me I can’t go past Kiva.

What I like about Kiva is:

1. You can choose directly an individual you wish to help. You can see their circumstances and why they need the money.

2. The money that you provide is a loan, meaning the individual works to repay this amount over time. As with any loan there is a risk that repayments will not be able to be made but this is extremely small and you get advised of that potential prior to making the loan.

Once the loan has been repaid you can either choose to reloan the money or you can, if you wish, withdraw the amount. Personally, I like to keep reloaning the money because I like the idea of being able to keep helping people all via a single donation.

3. The Kiva web site allows you to easily keep tabs on each loan that you have made and the progress in which it is being repaid. You also get a page that shows you all the loans you have made. Take a look at my loan page as an example.

4. The Kiva site incorporates the concept of ‘social networking’ so you can see all the other people from around the world who have also loaned money to the individual, because any total loan is usually made up of many small donations.

5. Finally, being a entrepreneur myself I enjoy the concept of helping other entrepreneurs get ahead. I know how hard it can be sometime to get started, grow and expand so I feel a closer sense of attachment to people like these who are not simply asking for hand outs, all they are simply asking for is assistance to grow their business to provide themselves, and others, a better life.

I would ask you to have a look at Kiva and see the good that it is facilitating everyday for individuals who are not as lucky as people like me. I think that when you take a look you’ll find that it is a great way to help others help themselves which is really the best help there is.

More evidence

A while back I wrote a post about the Myth of Multi Tasking which illustrates how multi tasking actually decreases our attention and hobbles our performance. Well, here’s another article that again reinforces that notion. “Multi-media use muddles the mind” quotes a study from Stanford University that found that:

“People who regularly juggle between more than one form of media simultaneously have lower mental capacity than those who do not multi-task.”

It is amazing to me that most people seem to believe that the only way to cope with growing amounts of information is to multi-task. That only makes the problem worse! It is far more effective to simplify, streamline and focus on one task at a time and do it properly. As the study concludes:

“These results suggest that heavy media multitaskers are distracted by the multiple streams of media they are consuming, or, alternatively, that those who infrequently multitask are more effective at volitionally allocating their attention in the face of distractions.”

So, the more you think you can do actually the more distracted you become and in fact, after a while, it forms a behaviour pattern that reduces your ability to concentrate. So all those web sites you are visiting with flashing animations are really doing you no end of harm and the sooner you kick the habit of so called ‘multi-tasking’ the better.

SMB Nation 2009

If you haven’t already heard I’ll be going to SMB Nation 2009 in Las Vegas from October 2-4 2009 to not only speak about SharePoint but also to take advantage of the great content that is always on offer.

If you are still undecided on whether you should attend let me give some reasons from my perspective:

– I obtained a whole swag of information from last years event that I was able to immediately implement in my business. It wasn’t only just technical information but also some business information that really changed my perspective in how I run my business.

– It was a fantastic opportunity to meet with a wide variety of resellers and IT providers from all over the globe. Some of the ideas that these people shared with me during our discussions again made me think really long and hard about the way I do business.

– I was able to forge some great relationships during the time. I not only met many new people, I also met people whom I’d only spoken to online. In the end, most business comes down to human relationships and nothing beats the traditional ‘face-to-face’ conversation to build stronger bonds.

– It provided me an opportunity to speak with some vendors who were offering products and services I had never even considered. Many also conducted very informative sessions where you could not only see the product in action but also ask questions and get feedback from other resellers on how they may implement such a solution.

– I was able to step away from the day to day grind of my business and take some ‘time out’ and really think about my direction for at least the next 12 months. How often do we every really do that these days?

There are, of course, plenty of other great reasons to attend not the least of which this year is going to be the sights of fabulous Las Vegas. There is certainly no place like this anywhere else in the world. As a destination flights are cheap, accommodation is less than $100 per night and there is always something to do even after the conference closes for the day.

So what am I looking forward to this year? Well, the agenda is now available and what appeals to me the most at the moment is:

GS401: Virtualization for the SMB world – Dana Epp, Wayne Small
GS201: Alternative Solutions in the SMB Space – Eriq Neale
SM302: Twenius – The BIG BANG “How To” of Effective Twitter for Beginners and Pros!- Dan Hollings
SM401: Social Media Panel – Aaron Booker, Dan Hollings, Harry Brelsford, Jim Locke, others
BS301: Selling IT Services; How not to suck at it! – Stuart Selbst
GS202: SharePoint – You’ve got it now what? – Robert Crane (can’t miss this one can I??)
Podcast Karl Palachuk & Robert Crane Pod Cast booth in the Exhibit Hall – Karl Palachuk, Robert Crane (or this one !!)
GS101: Windows 7 are you ready? – Dana Epp, Oliver Sommer, Susan Bradley
SM403: Local Internet Marketing Strategies – Dan Hollings
BS401: BusinessSpeak Panel – Matt Makowicz, George Sierchio, others
GS402: GeekSpeak Panel – MVPs, Gurus, other technical notables
SM201: How To Use LinkedIn and Facebook for RAPID Business Development –
Harry Brelsford
Speed Dating – Meet the Guru’s “Up Close & Personal” – come and join me on a table

Clearly there is heaps of great content and more being added by the day. However, if you are still tossing up whether to attend don’t forget that the early bird discounts end soon so call 206-201-2943 or 1-888-SMB-NAT1 and ask for “Harry” for community discounts!

I can’t wait to get to Vegas and get focused on my business while having a ‘whale of a time’. If you’re planning to attend let me know ( or as I’d love to catch up and chat about business, SharePoint or whatever.

Roll on October!

Do Email Less Course

My ‘Do Email Less’ course will be running this Friday the 28th of August at Macquarie Community College at Carlingford. It’s not too late to sign up. To do so just go to the web site:

Apart from teaching you how to use email more efficiently it will also help you understand the technology behind email, how it works, why it fails and what you can do to troubleshoot it. Attendees will learn how to not only cope with the ever growing volume of email but also how to send more effective emails so your message will get through. This is conducted in a hands on lab environment where you’ll get practical experience in working with Microsoft Outlook 2007. All attendees will also receive a copy of my ‘Overcoming email frustrations in Outlook 2007’ as part of the course.

If you are interesting in getting back in control of you time and out of your inbox then this course is for you.

Bad guys win again (Part IV)

The Internet is a neutral place. For as much good as it allows it also permits equal amounts of bad. It is simply a medium. Probably the thing that most people have problems comprehending is just how ‘global’ cybercrime is. You can have your bank account details stolen by someone in Russia or you can have your server brought down by someone else in China. Given the growing speeds and pervasiveness of the Internet it is actually getting easier.

A recent program on 4 Corners “Fear in the Fast Lane” gives you some insight into the challenges faced. You can find a complete replay of the episode here:

One of the cases it details is how an Alice Springs betting company was sent bankrupt because they failed to pay ‘cyber’ extortion money. Another instance shows how a simple drive through a Sydney suburb revealed about 20% of home wireless networks had no protection. So many people are using computers and networks these days but every few grasp the issues they face and the challenges security brings. If you are interested I created a video a while back that illustrates what can arise from insecure wireless networks after demonstrating the issues to a friend:
In an interesting turn of events, it seems that the Australian Federal Police featured in the story, who took over an underground hacking site, had their sting turned against them as “Hackers break into police computer as sting backfires” details. It further illustrates that there are just too many opportunities available for people to exploit vulnerabilities and weaknesses in computer systems. As I always tell people:

Q. How many different types of attacks and attackers do you have to protect yourself against?


Q. How many vulnerabilities or weaknesses does need to find to get inside your computer?

How can you win against these odds? Security is a huge investment that needs to be constantly maintained. Now consider your average computer user. Do they have the knowledge or the skills to even understand the threats they face – nope. As one of the Feds in the show says, it is probably about time that computer security be given same national priority as health but what are the chances of that?

As the show details, the problems are only going to get worse with the roll out of the Australian National Broadband network that will provide huge improvements in access speeds. I’m sure that the criminals can’t wait for that either because it means they can now achieve their ill gotten gains in a much shorter time period. A much better ROI.

Bottom line is that as we base more and more of our lives and society on computers without educating end users we are all losing out. It is typically the non-IT literate user who has their computer compromised without their knowledge. That computer is then added to a fleet of other compromised computers which are used to do the bidding of a cyber crim somewhere.
Because we all live on the Internet it is up to everyone to be aware and maintain the security of their own systems. People are just not doing that, which in effect impacts us all and makes the Internet a worse place to be. My contention has always been, imagine the roads if we didn’t have rules, cyber crime can reek just as much havoc yet we happily allow people to buy a computer and connect it directly to the Internet with no training or understanding. Don’t appreciate the problems this can cause? Watch the 4 Corners program and visit the accompanying site to see why the Internet is fast becoming a place that you MAY NOT want to be!

SharePoint versions

Many people think that there is only one version of SharePoint. They then get confused between Windows SharePoint Server (WSS) and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS). They get further confused between what features are and are not included in each edition.

As I get asked the question all the time I think the best answer I can give is to have look at “Which SharePoint technology is right for you” from Microsoft that provides a side by side comparison of all the different flavours of SharePoint. Be warned there is a lot of information to digest here. Perhaps an easier way to understand the different features set is to download the SharePoint product comparison spreadsheet that sets out the comparison using Excel which makes it much easier to understand.

In all of this don’t forget that a new version of SharePoint is on the way which will mean changes again to these charts (hopefully not too much).

One thing that all these documents don’t cover is the price. In simple terms, Windows SharePoint Services is available as a free download, while Microsoft Office SharePoint Server requires purchasing the appropriate licensing.

Hope that makes things a little easier to understand.