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SharePoint Predictions for 2009

I’ve read a few retrospectives on 2008 and this has got me to thinking about 2009.  Here are my guesses at the future of SharePoint in 2009.

Small Disclaimer

I’m a SharePoint MVP and as a result, I sometimes get a little advance information before it’s public.  I am NOT making any such information public.  I really haven’t been around long enough to be entrusted with that kind of stuff anyway.

With that out of the way, on to the predictions …

FAST

I believe that FAST will become a very hot topic in 2009.  It’s already well known in the enterprise search community.  However, everyone that plays around with SharePoint in 2009 will soon be interested in this product and what it can do for them.  New consulting companies will spring up around it and existing partners will work and scramble to add it to its portfolio.  This time next year, almost everyone in the SharePoint community will have heard of and have an opinion about FAST.

FAST is targeted at large companies and that will continue.  I think there’s at least an outside chance that Microsoft will release a more focused version of the product that is accessible to smaller companies.  Failing that, they will open up the SharePoint search engine so that it can be customized along the lines that FAST can be customized.  For example, FAST uses pipeline architecture for consuming content and indexing it.  FAST admins and developers can assemble pipeline components per data source and even create new pipeline components.  We don’t have this flexibility with SharePoint today.  If FAST remains firmly targeted at very large companies, SharePoint search will adopt some of FAST’s features.

SharePoint V.Next

I believe it will come out in 2009.

I believe that it will provide us the ability to secure views on a list or document library.  This may be more of a hope than a belief :)

I hope it will provide some better support for end users in SharePoint Designer and particularly workflow.

I don’t know much else,  I have been actively tracking what I do find here: http://delicious.com/pagalvin/SharePoint_O14.

Vendors Will Create Business Applications

Today, most SharePoint vendors seem to be gadget oriented.  Take Bamboo or Corasworks for example.  They have a huge following and great portfolio of products.  However, they seem sort of gadgety to me or developer / tool focused.  Admin tools, workflow tools, etc.  That’s not a criticism at all because SharePoint can definitely use some gadgets.

In 2009, some vendors (and very possibly Bamboo themselves, if I read this correctly) will put together verticalized business applications in the form of templates, features, solutions, etc.  I’m thinking about the fabulous forty templates today but tailored to specific industries.  I’m sort of surprised it’s not already exploited this way.  SharePoint is a platform for delivering these kinds of things.  What’s everyone waiting for?  They won’t wait any longer in 2009.

At the same time, Silverlight and other cool .NET stuff will fuel new, better and more interesting gadgets.

Sharepointreviews.com will become the essential community catalog of these products.

End User Focus

2009 will see the emergence of the End User as a major focus for bloggers, organizations and Microsoft themselves.  Mark Miller’s End User SharePoint.Com played a big role in 2008 and will continue to do so in 2009.  End Users will begin to blog, help to transform user groups into less technical venues and even convince someone or organization to launch a pure End User focused conference.

Conferences, User Groups, Code Camps, etc

Speaking of conferences – they will continue to expand and grow in number and focus.  Aside from end user content, they will continue to cater to developers and administrators.

Virtual conferences will start to pick up and existing conferences will provide live feeds to remote attendees who cannot or choose not to attend in person.

Free venues will expand, such as Mike Lotter’s (et al) SharePoint Saturday.

This is going to be very important because there will continue to be a large influx of new developers, admins and end users who will be craving the kind of information these groups provide.

Social Computing

Demand for social computing features will rise.  All things being equal, companies that implement effective social computing strategies will do better and be stronger than their competitors.

Smaller companies will adopt these features more quickly and effectively than large companies.

Large companies: beware :)

Best Practices versus Remediation

In 2008, a lot of SharePoint bloggers and organizations and Microsoft themselves spent a lot of time figuring out the best way to solve certain problems (usually technical problems).

There are still opportunities to define and foster adoption of best practices.  However, while we’ve been figuring out the best way to install, configure and manage SharePoint, hundreds and thousands of companies have been installing, configuring and managing SharePoint without those best practices at hand.

In 2009, a lot of companies are going to realize they have some deeply rooted problems to solve and will be looking to the elite members of the SharePoint community and Microsoft for help to fix them.  I think this will extend well into 2010 and possibly spawn a cottage industry providing remediation services for companies that really need and use SharePoint, but are hurting badly because of poor decisions made early in their implementation.

The Mother Ship Will Return

In 2009, the Mother Ship will return and bring Bob Fox home.

Final Thoughts

I didn’t start working with SharePoint myself in any real way until January 2007. It seems to me that SharePoint has really taken off and proven itself capable of delivering a lot of value in these two years. I think that in many ways, it didn’t really straighten itself out until the infrastructure update. It still has its bugs and problems, but we’ve all come along way since 01/2007. 2009 is going to be a banner year for SharePoint.

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4 responses to “SharePoint Predictions for 2009

  1. Michael December 22, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    after my abduction last month I can in fact verify that…. the mother ship will be bringing Bob Fox home. Now excuse me while I adjust my tin foil hat ;-)

  2. Greg December 22, 2008 at 3:47 pm

    Good thoughts. I myself have not worked with longer than you have, and its very nice to know that there is respect for people like us (you have an MVP!!) and we can be a great benefit to the community. I am super excited about 2009; especially the FAST stuff. That looks too cool.May you have a blessed and prosperous new year!

  3. Bob December 22, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    Ah leave that Fox bastard where he is…. Gannotti left too soon…. they started passing out hoagies to the other captives as soon as he was beemed back.

  4. Jeff December 25, 2008 at 4:44 am

    I think you made some good points here. You are spot on in that partners will need to start to building vertical solutions. Ballmer said as much to partners at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) several years ago – circa 2004. Partners need a few things to make this possible. The obvious first one is … better tools. As you noted the platform is getting better all the time. Partners need a clear roadmap with realistic timelines for any of the "coming attractions" as added capabilities. Partners need to know that their efforts are going to have legs and some longevity in the market. Smart partners expect (and want) Microsoft to innovate and continue to "raise the tide" for the base level functionality. What they don\’t want to do is have to compete with features that are non-existent or not available in the near term. This comes back to the roadmap. Partners don’t need much encouragement to want to build with / on-top-of SharePoint as a platform. One of the biggest challenges facing widespread SharePoint adoption and deeper penetration into the enterprise is the lack of qualified people to design, develop, and deploy solutions. Don’t misinterpret this last statement. There are quite a few qualified partners – SI’s, ISV’s, VAR’s, Training partners, etc. out there. I have been fortunate enough to work with many of them. The challenge is finding more and more people to keep up with demand. This is not a bad problem to have. It is a significant opportunity for Microsoft and for the partner community. I think you are right in that these existing partners, which I think you labeled as the “elite members” of the SharePoint community, are going to have a tremendous opportunity to help shape the next phase of the SharePoint world view. If done right – this will grow beyond a cottage industry and be the next $10B business for Microsoft and a $50B+ business for the partner ecosystem.

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