Microsoft Admits SharePoint Weaknesses – is this the beginning of the end?

– By acquiring Yammer June 25, Microsoft revealed two important things: first, it has finally awakened to adding a tried-and-true social network as a major focus of its catalog; and second, SharePoint isn’t the socially aware work collaboration offering it had once purported it to be.

It is not me saying this, but Chris Preimesberger, Editor of Features and Analysis at eWEEK. And he goes on:

For the last five years, Microsoft has been selling its SharePoint document-sharing application as a total tool for group work, and it has been a large success in many ways. In fact, it has been Microsoft’s finest enterprise software development in recent years.

But as a pioneer in the sector, SharePoint inherently lacked some key capabilities – real-time engagement is a major one – that workers are accustomed to using today, and the company knew it had to made a move.

SharePoint has a lot of strengths as a content management system, but it certainly isn’t a complete suite of capabilities.

“As a former member of the SharePoint product team, I’d be the last to say it’s not a powerful tool. But its lack of features for social engagement has become a big liability,” Oudi Antebi, a software developer and former Microsoft employee, wrote in his blog.

“At this point, I think Microsoft is acknowledging internally that the current version of SharePoint–as well as the next-generation ‘Wave 15’ version, which is around the corner–doesn’t provide real social capabilities. The company is probably looking at Yammer as a way to close the gap.”

What does the acquisition of this new-generation internal network do for Microsoft’s overall offering and for the sector?

“No question that this news is a huge validation for the space,” Tony Zingale, chairman and CEO of Jive Software, told eWEEK. “If you remember, the world’s largest software supplier claimed for at least five years that the SharePoint content management system was, in fact, their social offering.

“They tried in ’07, they tried in 2010; they were going to try in 2013 to put out SharePoint versions that were going to add social features. So by evidence of this announcement today, a $1.2 billion all-cash purchase, of a company that was nothing more than an activities stream and a ‘freemium’ supplier, it’s pretty significant evidence that as the enterprise retools, that Microsoft was behind. And they needed to take action to integrate social capabilities–not only into SharePoint, but also Office 365, their CRM tool Dynamics, and a host of other things inside that Microsoft stack.”

“From that standpoint, this is a big day, because this brings the need for social to front and center,” Zingale said.

My comment:

Microsoft has proved that they have not had “social” as part of their strategy and they are already five – 5 – years behind the competition in developing a social strategy and social solutions. Buying Yammer will not solve everything as Sharepoint does not integrate with Yammer, even though Yammer does integrate with Sharepoint.

Microsoft bought Skype. But so far nothing has happened integration wise. Skype is still Skype and competes with other Microsoft solutions. I believe they did not buy Skype to get the technology and integrate it, but they bought their customers and market share.

It will take years and years for Microsoft to come up to speed with their competitors in the Social Business segment. And it will take years and years until the get a full integration between Yammer and Sharepoint. In the meanwhile customers has moved into Social Business with solutions from other vendors.

It is the exactly same thing that happens for Microsoft in the mobile market. They are simply too late! That is the big problem with a monopolistic success. The top management does not dare to change the success formula, they focus on defending their market share. Innovation disappears and slowly – and often too late – they understand that the world is moving on. But without them!

This is the beginning of the end for Microsoft!


  1. Having worked with Yammer and SharePoint, I think full integration between the two is less of a challenge than you make out. Yammer has a very usable API, and supports the OpenGraph protocol, meaning that content can be easily pushed into a Yammer activity stream and the resulting content can be used smartly by algorithms under the Yammer hood. SharePoint now has JavaScript interfaces for developers to use, which makes ‘full integration’, whatever that is, at least feasible.

    SharePoint is in a lot of organisations. Being able to plug-and-play with Yammer is a genuine multiplier for SharePoint customers, who have always had to buy ‘apps’ to get value from their SP dollars.


  2. Couple of points… firstly, wait until the public beta of SharePoint 15 arrives and THEN decide as to whether it has social features.

    Secondly, how does Skype compete with other Microsoft solutions? Have we seen customers stopping Lync adoption and using Skype instead? Not in my customers.

    Jive should remember that until very recently (until around the time of the Yammer announcement) their web site stated that if you wanted document management integration for Jive you should use SharePoint.

    There is already integration between SharePoint and Yammer, even before the announcement of the intended acquisition – so ‘full integration’ (whatever that vague term defines) may not be so far away. Personally I don’t know the intentions, it’s early days but I would guess that someone has a clear idea of the path.

    Finally, a good social solution isn’t just about those little social features like sharing, microblogging and tagging. If you put together SharePoint, FAST search and Lync you have an incredibly powerful social platform which integrates tightly with Office and Outlook. It has has document management and workflow meaning that you can socialise content which is managed. Compare that to Connections which has good social features but there’s no document management… so you’re socialising content which isn’t managed. Whether you add solutions like NewsGator on stop of SharePoint, or wait for SharePoint 15, that ability to socialise managed content will be available.

    As for Microsoft being too late in this space… it’s in 80% of Fortune 500 companies. Its penetration in my customer set is about 96%. When future versions of SharePoint add the social capabilities and customers deploy them, then SharePoint will be the social solution in those customers. If Microsoft are too late we’d be seeing Connections and Jive displacing SharePoint. That isn’t happening. But I have seen SharePoint displace Connections.


    1. Well, I have seen Sharepoint displaced by Connections. Actually one of my customers stopped their Sharepoint project immediately after seeing what they could get out of the box with Connections.

      And I have never met a customer that is perfectly satisfied with Sharepoint. When I show them Connections sharing of files and documents and collaboration and activities around these, they sigh and say: – I wish Sharepoint could do that.

      And are you sure that all Sharepoint customers implemented Sharepoint due to functionality or because it was part of a bigger licence agreement (bonded bundle) from Microsoft?


      1. Sure, if you just need the Connections capabilities, and not document management and workflow, then Connections is the right solution. And sure there’s a few things that Connections does that SharePoint doesn’t, and you could say that the other way round.

        I don’t believe that anyone will implement SharePoint just because it’s included in their license deal. Customers take different approaches… some start with MySites and profiles, some start focused on team site-based collaboration, some for document management and for specific line-of-business uses.


  3. “But I have seen SharePoint displace Connections.” Darren, that is a bold statement. And totally made up unless you back it up with facts. Please do … or dont make the statement.


    1. The statement is a fact but I am not at liberty to disclose the names of customers. If, based on that, you choose to disregard it, fine. But it’s not like it’s some unbelievable claim like “aliens landed in our garden, but I don’t have photos to prove it”. Arne says he’s “never met a customer that is perfectly satisfied with Sharepoint” – would you like him to provide the names of those customers? I’ve met plenty of customers satisfied with SharePoint, but that only proves we’ve spoken to different people.


  4. Funny – most of my SharePoint customers simply want to avoid emailing spreadsheets, and to be able to build simple tracking lists, shared calendars, etc. Maybe an approval workflow or 3.

    These social features are the epitome of “nice-to-have”. I have never seen an enterprise customer make an enterprise architecture strategic decision based purely on social features.

    So this whole discussion is interesting, but I think it is also exaggerated,


    1. Yes, typical Sharepoint customers are document centric and not collaborative social businesses. They miss the opportunities that being a true social business give them – a better use of the companys collective intelligence, making them more responsive and competitive. Because they are on a Microsoft platform they are totally dependent of Microsoft only solutions, and Microsoft just recently understood that Social Business is where the world is moving. Five years too late.


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