Dear Abby IT, As SharePoint Expert What Should I Do Next in My Career?

Dear Abby IT SharePoint Woes

I’ve had some fascinating career conversations recently, and just today one message came across Facebook that reminded me of a Dear Abby letter.  No offense to Miss Abby and her letters. I hope she doesn’t mind me doing a bit of a parody on her character.  In high respect…  All rights are hers.


Dear Abby IT,

I’m a SharePoint Admin of 10 years.  I’ve had a great career so far and great run as SharePoint Admin.  I’m feeling the pressure of the Cloud and not sure what I should do.  How do I transition or diversify my skills.What should I do?  I’m not getting a straight answer from Microsoft and it likely would be personal anyway.  While I still see plenty of SharePoint jobs, I question the longevity of my position what should I be learning next?  Azure? SQL? BI?

Thanks for your wisdom over the years,


Cloudy SharePoint


Dear Abby IT


Dear Cloudy SharePoint,

You are smart to be questioning the amount of IT Admin jobs around the SharePoint, Lync, and Exchange stack.  The writing is on the wall for many companies that are either in the process of moving or are working to move their data to the cloud.  Mail, Instant Messaging, Enterprise Social, and commodity storage and sharing solutions like SharePoint sites will be first.  You are also smart to be considering this before the mass migration of IT folks to new jobs begins en masse.

SharePoint is becoming a commodity.  Don’t get me wrong, it does seem to have plenty of good work for the forseable future as companies continue to deploy and push adoption, but the development and IT Admin needs are being saturated or becoming more steady state with less change.  There may be some who would disagree with some of this assessment, and I welcome their thoughts.  Respond in a blog post and I’m happy to link to it, or add your thoughts in the comments.

The IT Industry is going through a major shift.  The emphasis in this paradigm shift is Mobile, Social, Cloud, and Big Data.  This will create a lot of new jobs, and replace a whole lot of others.  For IT Admins, the Cloud shift will hurt the most.  These paradigm shifts happen every few years, and a smart IT person will stay on the edge of it.  Developers will also be retooling as a result of these major shifts.  Staying on the bleeding edge can get you cut, but the payoff is greater than the risk for sure… On the other hand sticking around until you’ve worked yourself out of a jobs is lame and that kind of loyalty is underappreciated.  I hope to see others in the industry be open about what these changes and paradigm shifts will do to jobs and give more visibility to what I see as monumental in this shift.  The sky is not falling, but it is shifting.

The shift for most SharePoint folks means ensuring you are diversifying.  Start picking up books, projects, and figuring out where you interests are that are incrementally the next step.  SharePoint is and will be a great career for many, but having a broad set of skills will make you easier to hire.  Companies should not just hire someone because they meet the needs of the position, but for what they offer over many positions in the length of the employment.  Diversity is good and this may mean learning Google Apps, Salesforce, Jive and so on.  Diversity on a resume is powerful and speaks volumes to your ability to adapt with change.  For a developer seeing HTML5, CSS 3 with JQuery, Angular (and a huge variety of other libraries),  REST, etc… app development on Azure development C#, SQL Azure, Agile/Scrum development, team based Gethub, variety of repositories in addition to a variety of open source projects on the side including community projects on Codeplex shows you have the ability to work with a virtual team.  Going cloud? Get experience across a variety of hosts on prem, private and public clouds… Citrix, Azure, Amazon E3, Google cloud, Rackspace, Cloudshare, etc…

So what to focus on?  Here are some ideas… in areas that will really be growing.  There are differences in salary, and I do encourage people who have been long in the industry to ensure the career path supports their financial goals.  Just because you can do migration work doesn’t mean it will be the most satisfying.

  • Enterprise Mobile Device Management (Engineering and Solution Management) / Mobile Development
  • Visual: Designers, Client Side Developers
  • Virtualization & Infrastructure/ Azure Development
  • Business Analysts, Scrum Master, Agile Team Manager, Project Managers, Technical
  • Enterprise Social Community Managers/Consultants/Marketing Social Media Management
  • BI Analysts, Data Analysts, Big Data Architects, PowerBI, Powerpivot
  • Cloud Consultants, Azure Development, SQL Azure, Hadoop, Big Data apps and skills
  • Workflow/Forms and Business Process Management Analysts and Designers

Beyond you can see incremental steps to CRM, AX, LMS, ECM, HR and Financial systems and a number of specialists as IT converges with the business.  More careers will shift to technical expertise within lines of business. If you can ease up on your politics you can find a number of interesting careers with partners, and even competitors that will round out your resume.  As Microsoft moves towards it’s Devices and Services strategy you may find your interests align in other ways.  Most SharePoint environments that will remain on premises will be integrated with LOB systems and in hybrid scenarios.  How are your powershell skills?

There is still a lot of money to be made and the IT field will be one that will continue to pay handsomely.  Don’t be driven by greed or you’ll lose your happiness, remember it’s important to find balance in your life… figure out what interests you and go for it!  See yourself as an Agile being, that is ever incrementally progressing and you won’t go wrong.  Learn the principles of course correction.

Don’t fret… just plan. The future is bright!

Abby IT

One Comment on “Dear Abby IT, As SharePoint Expert What Should I Do Next in My Career?

  1. Great article Abby – er – Joel!

    I agree that SharePoint is becoming a commodity; that’s the natural next phase for a successful product as it matures. The cool thing is that Microsoft is actually helping by moving the product toward modern technologies. For example, the App Model forces developers to retool on HTML5, Javascript, MVC, and OAuth, and that immediately opens doors beyond SharePoint for those who meet the challenge. As workloads move to Office 365, IT Pros of us will spend less time on arcane SharePoint configuration and management and more on hybrid cloud, integration, and federation scenarios that are useful in all web technologies. And information architects, governance, and adoption experts will still find their skills in demand regardless of the underlying technology.

    Don’t fret, just plan … sounds like Abby’s wisdom to me!

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