Robert L. Bogue
Normally, I’d let this flow by but the seriousness of the mischaracterization warrants a response.
Before responding directly, I’ll wholeheartedly agree that there are other platforms that are better than SharePoint in nearly every single category. I have no desire to say that SharePoint is “best” for everything because it’s not. It’s important that you (and everyone watching the conversation) realize that I’m quite happy to point out issues with SharePoint at both a micro and a macro level as I’ve done repeatedly in conversations with Microsoft, in conversations with clients, and publicly on my blog.
The article that you quote is fundamentally flawed. While it reports that SharePoint search doesn’t work well for documents, it fails to acknowledge that really we’re down to two engines for internal search (SharePoint and SOLR derivatives). It further fails to recognize that the problem with search isn’t search. The problem is poor user behavior that makes it impossible to find content. I’m not implying the poor user behavior is intentional – far from it. However, if you placed the same content in another engine, you’d have the same problems. It’s a problem of not doing equal comparison. It’s anecdotal responses “I don’t like it” – and that’s almost useless.
In terms of people search, we all know that people search is hard beyond the problems that SharePoint solved a decade ago regarding phonetic spelling. There’s the greater KM issue that employees just don’t fill out their profiles – and once they do they fail to update them. Microsoft several years ago introduced the Microsoft Graph which they surface through Delve. The graph now informs Microsoft Search to help shape the relevance of people results. There’s no one else in the market that has the capacity to leverage this intelligence for people search. They simply don’t have the signals to convert into the edges of a social network analysis/graph. While Delve is poorly conceived, the underlying Microsoft Graph technology is right and can help us find what we’re looking for.
So why is there this prejudice against SharePoint? I believe there are two key reasons. First, it’s a product with a long history and people have long memories. It didn’t work well at Acme corporation a decade ago, so it’s still bad. Second, it’s easy to implement (turn on) and so many people implement it without thought about how to organize it or derive value from it’s implementation. The second one is more interesting. You make a product that’s easy to use – and therefore easy to misuse – and so it, over time, develops a reputation for being hard to implement, difficult to use, etc. Other platforms which require implementation teams don’t suffer from the same problems – not due to technical limitations – but as an artifact of the implementation process which the cheap product never got. I’ve seen this dozens of times with clients. They didn’t implement SharePoint with thought so they need to replace it. They replace it with another system but resist the guidance from their experts to fix the structural issues and they land in the same boat. The expectation that the “easy” product should be “easy” over time will pull down the feedback. (We measure against expectations not a fixed point.)
From my point of view, this is a natural problem in the market of anything – but it doesn’t mean that as professionals we should continue to purvey it. As professionals, I believe, we have a responsibility to move the practice forward rather than fall into the same traps that others are prone to falling into.
Getting back to the key point, you state “The fact that SharePoint is so popular is shown by the data but should not necessary be considered as an endorsement.” I’d disagree. Sure it’s not an endorsement that it will be the best solution for your situation – however, it’s validation that it’s a viable option. In truth, no one can tell us that a product will work in our environment, the best that we can hope for is that there’s broad validation that it’s been helpful for others. So for me, endorsement isn’t the point. Validation is.
This issue hasn’t changed in 15 years. I wrote “A single Goliath or best of breed” in 2005 for Tech Republic. The conversation hasn’t substantially changed since then. (And I wasn’t talking about SharePoint back then.)
Robert L. Bogue
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From: SIKM@groups.io <SIKM@groups.io> On Behalf Of Nick Milton via Groups.Io
Sent: Monday, November 25, 2019 5:43 AM
Subject: Re: [SIKM] Informal Poll - What system/tool/platform do you use for KM
As a bit of input to this debate, I published a blog post last week, https://www.nickmilton.com/2019/11/should-you-use-single-technology.html, which showed data on this question, with survey answers from 270 people world wide.
Among other things, the post shows that
The fact that SharePoint is so popular is shown by the data but should not necessarily be considered an endorsement. There are many things it does well, but there are many other KM functions where other technologies surpass it. The answer, as with all technologies, is first to define what you need it to do for you, then choose a technology suite that delivers the required functionality. And in nearly two thirds of cases, that’s more than one technology tool.
Author of the recent book - "The Knowledge Manager’s Handbook"
"Ambition without knowledge is like a boat on dry land."