A blog focused on messaging, Web and collaboration issues, including email, instant messaging, VoIP, Web conferencing and other technologies that help people communicate more efficiently and effectively.

Monday, February 1, 2010

A comment on Michael Sampson’s book on SharePoint

Michael Sampson is an industry analyst who for many years has focused on collaboration practices and technologies with an emphasis on how distributed teams can work together more effectively. He is on my short list of most respected analysts in the collaboration space. Recently, he graciously sent me his new book, SharePoint Roadmap for Collaboration. I would highly recommend it for anyone that is using SharePoint, considering it, or just needs to get up to speed on how collaboration technologies from any vendor can be used more effectively.

In the book, he discusses his “7 Pillars Model for Team Collaboration”, a framework that he developed in 2005 for evaluating collaboration technologies without the vendor-bias that can sometimes be present using other methods to evaluate them. Michael offers a frank assessment of SharePoint in the context of these seven pillars, giving it a pass or fail grade for each.

I won’t give away his ratings for SharePoint on each of the pillars, since I really think you should invest in this book, but Pillar 5: Social Engagement is of particular interest to me because of its impact on corporate culture and the way that distributed teams work. Michael’s assertion, with which I agree, is that collaborative technologies that are made available to teams of distributed co-workers should have a) presence and availability information for each team member made available to all other team members, b) the ability to interact in real time, and c) personal blogging capabilities. The goal is to recreate, as closely as possible, the typical office environment in which people can interact by walking down the hall, schmooze at the water cooler, overhear others’ conversations, and so forth. The goal of recreating this environment is that information of a less formal nature can be shared by all team members, allowing them to use this information for the advantage of the team and allowing them to interact on an ad hoc basis whenever they are available to do so. Michael points out that SharePoint by itself does not offer all of these capabilities, but in conjunction with OCS 2007 these capabilities are available.

While SharePoint Roadmap for Collaboration is focused on SharePoint and users of that offering will derive the greatest value from it, it also offers some valuable insights for organizations that are focused on other collaboration offerings. Given that collaboration is a major thrust at IBM with its growing set of excellent offerings focused on real-time communications, Web conferencing and social interaction; and that Novell is also pursuing this focus with its innovative Pulse offering, as are other vendors, Michael’s book is definitely worth a read even if SharePoint is not your immediate interest.

Michael can be contacted at michael@michaelsampson.net.

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