SharePoint haters seem to be disappearing. Possibly they aren’t as vocal as before, or perhaps they don’t complain as much. Whatever the reason, ‘hater’ rhetoric is quieting down…and that is a wonderful thing.
In this blog post, I want to look at why users didn’t or don’t like SharePoint; why a design flaw here or coding problem there would be so magnified by unhappy end-users that they felt compelled to write about their pain. I’d also like to propose the idea that end-users are becoming happier with each passing day as SharePoint evolves and SharePoint developers evolve with it.
Let me say right up front, the reason most users didn’t like SharePoint was because the developers that designed and built the user applications were untrained, inexperienced, or lacked vision…or all three. I’m laying the whole SharePoint ‘hater’ thing at the doorstep of developers…sorry.
Microsoft Got the Ball Rolling
So, why did so many end users decide to blame SharePoint rather than the developer or his lack of SharePoint knowledge? The whole thing started with problems with Microsoft and the vast array of products that people everywhere were exposed to and learned to hate. We might consider some discontinued products like Microsoft Bob, OneCare, Microsoft Chart and Picture Manager…to name just a few of their flops. These products were all discontinued because they weren’t any good. Microsoft marketing hyped them up, people purchased them, and people hated them. At the very least, you have to give Microsoft credit for trying new things. It just would have worked out better if those new things would have worked.
If a software product is not stable, secure, or capable of performing as expected, then that the product is destined for the trash bin along with the company that built it. Given that so many of their products failed, the amazing thing about Microsoft is the brand is still incredibly strong. Microsoft certainly had its share of unstable, insecure and clunky products, but it also had a few magnificent triumphs. That said, the Microsoft brand has been stained enough times that people are skeptical of their products and quick to tell the world when something goes ‘bump in the night.’
SharePoint and the inaugural version called Microsoft SharePoint Services or MOSS, was misunderstood from the very beginning. Here is how Microsoft described SharePoint Services back in 2006 with Version 1.0:
Windows SharePoint Services is a versatile technology that organizations and business units of all sizes can use to increase the efficiency of business processes and improve team productivity. With tools for collaboration that help people stay connected across organizational and geographic boundaries, Windows SharePoint Services gives people access to the information they need. Built on Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Windows SharePoint Services also provides a foundation platform for building Web-based business applications that can flex and scale easily to meet the changing and growing needs of your business
Most people read the marketing description above and said: “It does what?” In those three simple words, they were asking – what in the world is a foundation platform? They also were saying – SharePoint Services sounds too complicated and expensive. Obviously, SharePoint got off to a rocky start in life.
Things are Changing
That was then, this is now. SharePoint 2013 has evolved as a solid ‘foundation platform.’ People now have a better understanding of what SharePoint can do, and people are a bit more tolerant of Microsoft since the company regained the confidence of the masses. SharePoint earned a new lease on life, and Microsoft intends to take full advantage of the opportunity. However, developers still do the design and coding of SharePoint, which keeps the end user tethered to the skills of the developer. Will SharePoint ever meet the users’ needs? The answer to that question depends on the designer and developer.
The SharePoint haters are still out there. As I’ve tried to illustrate in this blog post, their discontent should be with the developer more so than with the product. By way of example, what if Honda automobile company put a lawn mower engine in their new Civics? If you bought one and found the car was a wee bit underpowered, whose fault is it? Should you blame the motor, the car body, the gasoline, or the builder? Obviously, the builder. The same holds true for SharePoint.
SharePoint haters are disappearing because a big part of the reason for the hater’s discontent has been resolved; the product itself is stable and it is much better understood by end users. This still leaves room for improvement, and that will come as the developers get more experience and are able to help the end users perform their jobs better.
Microsoft does a great job of marketing all of its products, even the ones that aren’t so great. There is lesson in the SharePoint rise & fall & rise again. When effective marketing promotes an ineffective product, it tarnishes the company and its ability to market future products. Microsoft SharePoint is a case in point.
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!