As we move into 2010 with both a new outlook with the excitement of a new product I’d like to look back and some highlights and lowlights. This is my list. Happy to look at yours and let me know and I’ll link back to them – Joel Oleson
1. SharePoint Conference Explosion – Not only did we have I bet 30 or more FREE SharePoint Saturdays with over 100 in attendance with many at 150+ booked in a short period of time. Kudos to Michael Looter, Susan Lennon especially, but also Kevin and all of those who organized the various events like the recent SPSKC by @mosslover Becky, with 300 registered and over 200 in attendance, not only in the US. but across Europe, Australia, and coming soon to the Middle East! good luck to SharePoint Saturday Jordan, see you there! SPTECHCON has really taken off! SharePoint Connections and Tech ED and I remember Advisor days. These days there’s a SharePoint conference happening somewhere every week. Believe me, I’m trying to track as many of them as I can. Even TEC known for its depth, joins the fray in the new year… with TEC2010 for SharePoint I’m actually running those SharePoint 2010 conference tracks. Obviously it’s not without mentioning the sold out over and over 7000 attendees at the SharePoint conference beating out the numbers for Tech Ed US and busting up against the likes of PDC!
2. Media and Analyst Spotlight – In the past 2 years SharePoint went from being a step child of office and windows and has taken front stage. Not only does it have it’s own brand now, but now commands the attention of book publishers, magazines online and offline, and has really become the house hold name. If anyone mentions recession to Microsoft, all they have to do is start talking about SharePoint revenue and growth… The fastest revenue generating product in Microsoft history, and you don’t hear that it’s slowed down. Analysts love to talk about SharePoint. In fact Google loves to mention and compare it’s newest ideas against SharePoint. That’s pretty cool. SharePoint has grown to the level where it’s loved to be hated because it has become so successful. It’s no longer the David, it’s the Goliath. Definitely you can see how the tables have been turned.
3. Growth of Expertise in the Community – When I was at MS, there was often a complaint that there were not enough experts in SharePoint. While fast growth of the SharePoint MVPs have gone from 30 a few years ago, to over 160 and even had challenges ranking up with the largest MVP groups .NET and C# MVPs. It’s tough to get to know all 160+, I do try. Ask your local MVP how the community has grown. They’ll be happy to tell you how you use to be able to know everyone. It’s been a real challenge both keeping on top of growth, and expertise, but also helping distinguish between the gold rush that’s taken place over the past year or three. What use to be rare, is less rare, but it’s still a huge deal to find a qualified SharePoint Expert. Believe me. Talk to a recruiter, despite the economics, there is still a demand for SharePoint developers and consultants. If you aren’t seeing the jobs, you either aren’t looking or you aren’t in any of the groups on linked in. The MCM for SharePoint has ultimately been a good thing. Huge kudos to those who have gone through the program. Sure it’s expensive, and 2010 MCM upgrades are bound to be interesting, but you can’t deny the quality that comes out… it is definitely impressive. Kudos to the graduates, and even those that risk paying out their own pocket if they don’t pass. It met many a candidate that was either paying out of their own pocket or would have to if they didn’t pass. That’s serious guts! Not a cheap risk and what’s the return? Not just bragging rights, that’s a serious investment of time and money. More info on the MCM blog
4. Community Stickiness – I’m not sure what to call this, but something that stands out to me is the real true friendships that have been developed. There is definitely something special about the SharePoint crowd. For me, I saw this start in Boston in 2004 at Teched, but what’s really happened to not only the US and not only in the MVP group, but really globally people have been able to connect. It’s been awesome with Twitter (I do give it the most credit), Facebook, and Linked in and all the social networks in terms of helping us connect online. If you were at the SharePoint conference you can’t deny the connections that happened. It was the “Hey I know you! You’re awesome, I love your (blog/tweets/articles/comics/newsgroup posts, etc…)!” conversations along with the live blogging over at EUSP which helped fill in the gaps. That SharePint that first official night after registration. People had their twitter id’s on their T-Shirts, and the hundreds, possibly thousands of people who made what was an online solid connection into real friendships. Yep it was awesome. I’ve seen that same thing happen at SharePoint Saturday’s over and over. Acquaintances becoming best friends in the course of an evening. I made literally hundreds of friends this year, but people I would take a SharePoint bullet for. I made some serious friendships, I know many did. Definitely a very very special thing. Those legitimately tagged SPC 20,000 tweets go to show the kind of sharing that happens. It’s not all a popularity content. There’s some honest to goodness sharing that’s happening.
5. SharePoint User Group Expansion – I’ve been able to visit a large number of user groups this past year and still on a trek to visit the far reaches of the earth to hit the real passionate groups. A few of my favorites were launching the group in Egypt with Marwan, and hitting the early the Moscow group with some previews of 2010 Russian language pack at the Moscow MTC, then even reaching out to the groups across India and finding real SharePoint passion around the globe. Amazing. The cool part is plugging these group leads in with the community. I’m really looking forward to connecting with the groups in Peru, Chile, and Costa Rica. I think South of the border needs more love. The expansion in the Middle east has really been popping a lot in due to the passion of a few MVPs: Mo, Neo, and Marwan. They don’t need to be islands, they can connect, and they have. One such example is SharePoint4Arabs.com not only a blogging platform, but also a platform for training, user group announcements, and more.
1. Community Attacks & Blowups – I’m sure I could be blamed for exposing some warts, but there were at least a few more. Other attacks and back stabbing needn’t be mentioned either. I don’t want to focus on this, but tack this up to growing pains. I think a lot of us have grown, and while there were some nasty warts and name calling, I hope psychologically we’ve all grown. It’s amazing how personal some of the attacks became. We are human, but I think we all have higher callings, we’ve been chosen, and we need to live to a higher standard. It’s unfortunate we haven’t had a way of healing through this in a better way, but time has healed some of these wounds. Those who have turned the other cheek and walk the higher ground, I applaud you.
2. ISV Challenges Revenue & Awareness – The vendor space has been a bit challenging this year. Not only from the down turn, but challenges around helping with visibility. How do you know what tools you need for SharePoint? How do you even know what’s available. This has been really tough for everyone. I think SharePointReviews.com has done a good job, but I don’t think it’s over. I have been impressed with SharePointAds.com to help with exposure for those that signed up. They have a huge waiting list now. There aren’t enough sites and blogs signed up to cover the ad money that the ISVs have paid. This gap of money the vendors want to spend to help solve this awareness problem is bound to close more, but man it’s tough. With thousands of SharePoint solutions, how could anyone know where to go? (Full disclosure: I don’t get paid by SharePointReviews.com, but I do have SharePointAds on my blog, and I’m tons happier with it than Googleads or Amazon. Most say it’s 10X better, and the ISVs are happier as well.)
While it’s great there is no clear winner, there isn’t even a clear top 5 vendors in any space. It’s just plain confusing. Sure I could rattle off a list, but then we find out there’s a few I’m missing. Definitely happens… Awareness is a big problem. I hope we can figure out how to get both consultants and customers better information on the best tools out there. If you’ve got ideas… I’m open. This might be the one on the list that is most confusing for some. Happy to explain how this vendor space hasn’t yet fully matured and we’ve lost some vendors in the space, and even those that had decent solutions didn’t pop (sell well). There are some good companies and they are in for the long haul, so I expect much of this to be addressed as the market gets cleaned up more going into 2010. I definitely had a few of these conversations with vendors at SPC. We need more killer apps, and we need better ways of making sure the community (customers and partners) are aware of those killer apps. The unification of intranets story from useit.com on Top 10 Intranets definitely provides hope for not only unification of platform, but better tools and consolidation.
3. Leaks – It was a big moment when SharePoint Designer/SharePoint hit big enough time that it was actually leaked and torrented. It was sad to see people blogging about their use of NDA code. It does matter, not only in legal terms, but in the levels of respect and trust in the community. The policing was a bit sad as well.
4. Plagiarism – There haven’t been isolated examples of this. There were multiple break outs, and nasty things happening both in the blogosphere and more recently on twitter. People taking full credit for blogs, and sure some to the lesser extent, but there was some blatant misuse. A lot of correction has happened, but this still rears it’s ugly head and impacts our ability to give full credit where it’s due.
5. Blogging Challenges – SharePointBlogs.com had some challenges, SharePoint Community Kit had some growing pains, SharePoint Blogs, comments, discussions, and more have really had some challenges over the past year. Not only from comment spam, but finding a real community that could provide a consistently available, backed up, and with decent performance. I’ve changed platforms from SharePoint Hosting to Rackspace. They’ve been very good to me. I’ve seen others scramble and have to move their blogs.
Additional Reviews to Check out
2009 SharePoint Toolbox Review – SharePoint Administration Toolkit and walkthrough on SPDiag