All roads lead to SharePoint!

I have talked about the market changes that face all of us that are involved in supplying IT services in previous posts.  The Cloud (all of it , but particularly the Microsoft Cloud offerings like Office 365) is changing the market landscape in ways no one would have imagined just a few years ago.  And while we all see the “traditional” IT market eroding at an ever increasing pace, those that choose to can also see a world of new possibilities.

My colleagues and I at itgroove have been tackling this new marketplace for some time and we believe the changes in the market require all of us – IT service providers and the organizations that are serviced by those providers – to look at the opportunities presented in a different light.  The capabilities afforded to all by Cloud services, and specific to this post by Office 365, greatly surpass what most smaller businesses could afford to obtain “on premise” in the past.  This means the discussion turns from being one that focused on “technology” to one that now focuses on “business process re-engineering”.  Yes, the technology still matters, but as you can do so much more with the technology you need to look at how you can make the most of what you are being handed.

Most smaller companies (and some larger ones, too) tend to look at Office 365 as a means of moving their email to the Cloud and that is all well and good, but there is so much more available from the 365 package.  There is Lync with all of the attendant “connected” goodness that goes with it and there is the subscription license for the latest version of Office (incredible value!).  But most of all, there is SharePoint;  it this component that can really drive the business process re-engineering I referred to earlier.

Most smaller companies, if they have been exposed to SharePoint, were exposed via the “Companyweb” SharePoint site that has shipped with Small Business Server since SBS 2003.  In many cases, companies noodled with Companyweb then promptly forgot about it and that, frankly, was a failing on the part of most of us in the IT services side of things to get people on board.  If companies did do more than noodle they quickly found out that while there were a number of things that Companyweb (and SharePoint WSS3/Foundation) could do, the real “meat and potatoes” of SharePoint was beyond their reach as the “paid for” versions (SharePoint Standard and Enterprise) quickly priced themselves out of reach.

Microsoft, to their credit, has redressed that imbalance by imbuing Office 365 SharePoint with much of the functionality of the Enterprise product while keeping the monthly subscription fees down to a very reasonable cost that won’t break the budget of most small businesses.  This means that any organization that wants to leverage SharePoint can do so and not hit the built-in “obstacles” that came along with WSS3 and Foundation.

Organization can — and should –look at their current business processes and consider re-engineering them using the tools that SharePoint provides.  A great example of this kind of re-engineering is to move from paper or email-based processes to ones that are driven by backend SharePoint workflows.  Once the information is captured by SharePoint, a workflow process can track the information and the business process it drives through to completion.  Workflows are efficient, repeatable, and can tightly control your processes without fear of having things fall into the “black hole” that is email or paper.  We use a number of workflows internally at itgroove and they make our lives measurably easier.

So, to circle back to my original point, it’s not just technology that is in play anymore when it comes to things like Office 365.  You, as an end-user consumer of cloud services like Office 365, now need to look at IT providers that can provide the business process engineering/management consulting/project management components as well as the “plumbing” components in order to fully leverage the capabilities that are bundled into your monthly subscription.  The real value of Office 365 and the real ROI on your subscription dollars lies in your ability (and that of your IT partner) to unlock and capitalize on the potential in SharePoint.  And that is the crux of the matter for all of us IT vendors; we all have to adapt to this new model or face a slow death as the traditional opportunities dry up.

itgroove has gone “all in” with this model.  We have broad SharePoint experience, we have broad technical experience and we have the broad business and management chops (thanks, Jeff!) to help you re-engineer and leverage Office 365 and SharePoint to the max.