Plain English

I’ve always been a big fan of the YouTube videos that Common Craft have created. Ones like RSS in Plain English and Blogs in Plain English provide a really simply introduction to these technology in a fun and entertaining manner. In many cases these videos help explain some of the technology that comes with SharePoint. Well now there is a Common Craft video specifically about SharePoint called SharePoint in Plain English.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s12Jb5Z2xaE

It gives people a good overview of what SharePoint can do and I like the way that is especially targeted at the typical use a business person would require from SharePoint, managing a project. I’ve always found SharePoint can be hard to explain to people because it accomplishes such a wide variety of things but I think this video does a pretty good job of at least making it a little clearer.

 

As always, don’t forget that my Windows SharePoint Operations Guide contains a whole swag of SharePoint videos and training as well as almost 1,500 pages of technical content on Windows SharePoint. The Guide is designed to help you get up to speed with not only using SharePoint but also helping your customers and business partners understand the benefits that SharePoint can provide them.

 

Finally, don’t forget that I too have created some free demonstration SharePoint videos which can be found at my old YouTube Saturn Alliance account or my new Director CIAOPS account. Also, visit Common Craft for their range of videos on a huge range of topics (not just technology).

SharePoint Thrives

If you wanted further confirmation that a major business opportunity exists in and around SharePoint then “Microsoft’s SharePoint Thrives in the Recession” from the New York Times is worth a read.

“We don’t claim we do everything,” said Chris Capossela, a senior vice president at Microsoft. “If we do 50 percent of the functions that these other companies do, but they’re the ones customers really want, that’s fine. The magic is that end users actually like to use the software.”

No technology can honestly claim to do everything and SharePoint is no different. Given how flexible it is you do have to say that it does a great many thinks pretty well and that is what makes it such a great solution for many businesses.

Microsoft declines to break out the exact sales figures for the software but said that SharePoint broke the $1 billion revenue mark last year and continued to rise past that total this year, making it the hottest selling server-side product ever for the company.

So if it is still growing while other software is declining why aren’t more people considering it? Imagine what will happen when more businesses find that Windows SharePoint is free to download or already included with their systems (i.e. for Small Business Server). When this happens the demand certainly isn’t going to decline.

Microsoft has managed to undercut even the panoply of open-source companies playing in the business software market by giving away a free basic license to SharePoint if they already have Windows Server. “It’s a brilliant strategy that mimics open source in its viral, free distribution, but transcends open source in its ability to lock customers into a complete, not-free-at-all Microsoft stack – one for which they’ll pay more and more the deeper they get into SharePoint,” Mr. Asay said.

This is exactly the reason that Microsoft provide Windows SharePoint for free, because it locks the customer into using more and more Microsoft products which is fine because they provide a solution and a great return on investment. Given that Windows SharePoint is also free it means there are far less hurdles to implementation.

By making these more sophisticated tools available to customers, Microsoft thinks it can keep pushing niche software makers out of the way and give business people, rather than just the tech folks, a way to work with business applications.

Again, here’s another key feature. SharePoint can easily be utilized by business users to suit their needs. As I have always said SharePoint is tool just like Excel or Word, it starts out blank but you really create something fantastic using it. Most business owners fear that if they implement something they will need to keep paying for any change required. With SharePoint they can do it themselves.

If you are a technology provider and you haven’t looked at the opportunity SharePoint presents then you are missing out on the hottest game in town. If you want to get up to speed fast with Windows SharePoint consider my Windows SharePoint Operations Guide (www.wssops.com) which is packed with all the information that you’ll need to install, maintain and manage Windows SharePoint. I’m pretty sure you won’t find another single location with as much information on Windows SharePoint as the Guide.

No matter what the economic conditions there are always opportunities for the savvy and clearly SharePoint is one of them. I’d also tell you not to forget the opportunity that OneNote presents but that is a topic for another post.

Google everywhere

A new course I have developed called ‘Google everywhere’ will commence at Macquarie Community College this Thursday. If you are interested there is still an opportunity to sign up via:

http://www.macquarie.nsw.edu.au/index.php?action=course&course_action=detail&code=309M295

Google is now so much more that a search engine. It allows you to create custom calendars, schedules and to do lists. You can create and store documents you can access from anywhere. You can also use it as your primary email account. There are maps and street views of just about everywhere. This course will show you how to use all these tools and to enhance your online workflow.

When I started putting together this course I was amazed at how many products Google actually provide. Now whether that is a good or bad thing I’m not sure but when you actually sit down and work it out it is amazing.

So if you want to gain some insight into what Google applications can accomplish and what you can use to help yourself or you business then this course maybe for you. I hope to see you there.

WOW factor

Many people consider SharePoint to be something that is only used within an organization. The fact is that it provides a very good platform for utilizing outside the organization as well. It provides a ‘standard’ platform on which developers can create some amazing sites. One of the best of these I believe is Ferrari.com.

Microsoft has now made a case study about Ferrari.com available which you find available at:

http://www.microsoft.com/casestudies/Case_Study_Detail.aspx?CaseStudyID=4000004987

On there you’ll also find a nice video about the reasons and results of the web site. I do however find it frustrating that Microsoft only makes this video available via Silverlight. The problem is you need to download and install Silverlight v3 to view the video. This typically requires a browser restart which isn’t smart in my books because it takes people away from the web site. It would be much better to also offer something on YouTube in standard AVI format. Here’s something similar from YouTube about the web site but it doesn’t talk about the fact it is built on SharePoint technology.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lME2WIee-6s
I believe you should be making it easier for people to share your propaganda rather than requiring them to install additional browser components. How many ‘ordinary’ people out there are going to have SilverLight v3 already installed? Not many I reckon.

The point that I really do want to illustrate here is that many businesses are not only utilizing the functionality that SharePoint provides but also the platform it can provide to be easily extended and enhanced. There is plenty to recommend SharePoint already but when you see what people like Ferrari and those below are achieving you just gotta say WOW!

As I have always said, SharePoint is merely a tool – what you do with it is up to you.

Other examples of Internet facing SharePoint sites include:

 http://www.hawaiianair.com 

 http://www.carlsberggroup.com

Guide promotion

After some discussion with SMB Books we have agreed to make some special offers on my Windows SharePoint Operations Guide.

 

-> You can now purchase the product via a 3 instalment payment option. This means that it is only $99.99 over three consecutive months. This means that you’ll get access to the full Guide from your first payment and continue to do so for a whole 12 months upon making the remaining payments. Hopefully, this will make it a little easier for those who have been considering the guide but need to also keep an eye on their cashflow.

 

-> If you buy the Guide and any other product on the SMB Books site you’ll also receive a $20 discount off your total purchase price. There are plenty of other great reference books available on SMB Books covering all facets of technology and business. Unfortunately this offer can’t be used with any other offers (like the part payment mentioned above) and is a special offer unique to the Guide. When you make a purchase use the code CRANE09 at the checkout to take advantage of this offer.

 

-> When you buy the Guide you’ll also receive a free copy of my “Overcoming email frustrations for OUtlook” in PDF format. This is book that shows you 10 ways to overcome the most common frustrations people face when dealing with email.

 

The Windows SharePoint Operations Guide is now almost 1,500 pages in length and 4GB of information on the subscribers DVD and growing every month. Why spend time hunting around the Internet for information about Windows SharePoint? It is all here in one regularly updated location. From installing to maintaining and customizing the Guide contains it all and more so visit www.wssops.com or email me (director@ciaops.com) for more information.

 

Don’t forget all the other free documents I also have available on http://www.slideshare.com/directorcia about SharePoint and other topics.

Slave labour

The article “Work four hours, then rest” contains some interesting points that are worth highlighting.

– ‘Whoever has not two thirds of his day for him self is a slave,’’ declared Friedrich Nietzsche.

Take a step back and examine your days recently. Can you honestly say you had two thirds to pursue your own agenda? Unlikely I’ll bet. Welcome to the chain gang.

– We live in an age offering unprecedented opportunity for us all to lead the kind of flourishing, leisurely existence of which the ancients could only dream. Yet many work harder and longer than ever before.

This is a point I’ve been highlighting for a while. Look at all the technology we have today. Now tell me why we are working harder than ever? Why have we less and less leisure time? My contention is that we are not using technology correctly, we are merely accepting the defaults rather than customizing it to suit the way that we work. After a while, these bad practices become the ‘norm’ and we seem to continue meekly accepting it. How many dedicate time to actually determining whether there is a better way to do something or use technology to better automate repetitive tasks? Not many I’ve seen. It’s really driving a car constantly in first gear.

– However, for most people, working beyond a certain threshold (generally estimated to be between four to six hours a day), brings comparatively small real additional benefits; yet has substantial opportunity costs, including loss of leisure.

Here’s the real story. After a certain point the harder you work the less you actually achieve yet the opportunity costs increase inversely. It is again like the car in first gear analogy, more and more revs makes little difference because you are caught in the lowest gear, taking virtually no advantage of any leverage. However, the chances of blowing the engine increases as you increase the revs. The simplest thing is to change gear, so why don’t we?

– Long working hours may certainly increase overall gross domestic product, but the evidence suggests that it does not increase productivity per hour, and it generally makes us, and those around us, quite a bit less happy than we would otherwise be.

For me here’s the bottom like – ‘evidence suggests that it does not increase productivity per hour’. Why aren’t we working to improve our efficiency and doing more with less? Why aren’t we using the technology to reduce, rather than increase our workloads? I honestly can’t understand why we are doing this. We invented all this technology, surely we can’t be that stupid can we?

As my recent ‘Power on an hour’ document illustrates, becoming more productive with technology isn’t hard, however it is journey not a destination. You always need to be on your guard against time burglars like email, web browsing, meetings and so on. In an upcoming document ‘Enough time’ I examine some simple steps that you can use to understand to ensure your time is being used most effectively.

Every time I ask people whether they have enough time I have never yet had anyone tell me they have more time available than they need. It is always the converse – “I never have ENOUGH time”. However, when you examine how people allocate their time you find they are simply wasting so much. Why is that? Simple, they don’t value their time. In essence they are too cheap. Given that you can never create or obtain more time why do people value it so lowly? That’s one reason they work such long hours. They believe they will get more in return. Clearly the evidence indicates the complete opposite. Unfortunately, people appear oblivious to the obvious and allow technology to make it worse.

Until you start valuing your time more don’t complain that you don’t have enough. Surely you’re smarter than that? Until you start asking whether what you are doing is the BEST allocation of your time at the moment then you are destined to never have enough of life’s most precious resource.

The word

A while back I wrote a post about Windows SharePoint Services licensing. In there I said that I was still waiting on confirmation about Windows SharePoint running on Windows Foundation Server. Well now I have a definitive answer:

there are no restrictions, we want a customer running Foundation to be able to use all products, simply not for customers with more than 15 users.

Yeah! This makes things much clearer. So you can install Windows SharePoint on Windows Foundation Server but you must abide by the product’s normal licensing, which includes the limit of 15 user access.

Given the competitive pricing of Windows Foundation Server, this makes it a very good option to install as a second server in small networks to allow a stand alone installation of Windows SharePoint Server. Sure you don’t HAVE to use a second server but it certainly provides more flexibility and reliability for your installation in my opinion.