discovering_the_soul_of_tibet112aaf1f7a1926bafcbbFor those of you that have worked with we me you know I love what I do. Whether its SharePoint, Guitar or something else I put  in 110% effort. They also know I cut through the vender hype and offer an unbiased viewpoint that sometimes isn’t politically correct. Before assembling this blog I spoke with several peers in the industry and reviewed reports from research companies regarding SharePoint and Office 365 trends.

On the topic of SharePoint, looking back to its beginnings, the wild west comes to mind. What do I mean? Lots of opportunity for software and consulting companies such as installation, backup and monitoring – there was margin in mystery. It was an unknown, many were using eRoom or Lotus Notes (Great products) for collaboration and document management. I remember chatting with Microsoft around 2001 and they said “SharePoints immature at the moment but the next few versions will make a killer impact”.

Most the work I performed was travelling the world providing consulting to executives regarding how to best leverage SharePoint, Lync and Livemeeting. I conducted executive briefings, demos at the customer office or at Microsoft technology centres (for example Boston and New York). I also trained field staff in UK, US and Australia to deliver SharePoint consulting services. My consulting went beyond Microsoft tools and covered topics such as culture and office design (Thank you Chris Hood for your office design insight). Having worked with change management and office design experts I presented a holistic view of collaboration and labeled it “The high performance office” – essentially how to mobilize your workforce. That solution made its debut at TechEd in Boston 2006. From Boston I flew to California to meet with Disney who was preparing the launch of the movies Cars and Pirates and required a collaboration solution to launch movies.

Fast forward to 2016 and SharePoint is now a household topic – people love it or hate it. SharePoint has matured and the availability of skills has increased but its still difficult to hang onto SharePoint people because it requires such a diverse skill set. Toolset venders are struggling because traditional needs (Backup, migration, administration etc.) have declined (become commodity), competition has increased and as a result most are in negative growth with declining margins whether they want to accept that or not. Have you noticed the price reductions and various marketing promotions from some? Heard about the CEOs being fired/leaving? Management team changes and offices closing outside of North America? Sweat shops will continue the churn of staff, hire and fire puzzled by their lack of consistent financial results. I expect more consolidation will occur, companies will shrink to adjust to market changes. Leaders such as HP, IBM and Dell/Quest will succeed because they have diversified (Not SharePoint only) and are marketing focused and not engineering focused. As one of my clients said “If Nortel and DEC had not been lead by engineers, they would still be around”.

So whats next? Once the Office 365 migration wave is over software venders and SIs will have a tough time looking for growth areas. I think of Office 365 projects as “walking the plank”, once your customer has migrated your opportunities are greatly reduced. What are the growth areas? Consulting and outsourcing are options for revenues but moving from a traditional software sale and product enablement services model to more complex services model is a tough journey – refer to my earlier post regarding building a services organization. I expect some will fail miserably at this unless they hire an experienced management team, hire more experienced staff and adjust the culture. But this sort of change is a fundamental shift for organizations, the new hires will not necessarily fit in to the old mould the organization is accustom to. Without executive support they will either quit or be pushed out.

Have feedback? I’m always interested in hearing from others and can be reached at roncharity@gmail.com

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