Monday, September 13, 2010

Creative Destruction of SharePoint

SharePoint is trying to transform, or split up ECM into pieces, similar to what Schumpeter referred to as “creative destruction”. Schumpeter’s use of this term implies that in order to have innovation the current paradigm has to be superseded.

What aspects of ECM will be crushed in order for SharePoint to innovate? Will ECM actually be destroyed? I have doubts. The main “innovations” of SharePoint over ECM software are based on shortcomings of the software suites, not the solutions or platforms. SharePoint is not as much innovation as it is a fix to chronic ECM problems:
  • A more unified architecture, as opposed to the patch work of typical ECM suites
  • Easier to configure and build sites from templates (unless you have to customize, which is most of the time)
  • Ease of Use: by definition SharePoint is easier to learn and use, unless your thousands of users already use another software suite.
  • Already in the house as an OS and email system, thus foundationally integrated, which is the key business driver for Microsoft-based systems.
  • Less expensive, in the short run, but the long run expenses will depend upon reducing the need for customizations and traditional library management services.

ECM suites will have to develop and innovate on their strengths, which in some cases are slowness to change with the times. Most small mistakes made in implementing content management systems were made on a continuing basis for cost and lack of direction reasons, not because of the obvious flaws in the software. The market of ECM has created the dinosaurs of ECM suites, not the other way around. All large enterprises, which own the largest amount of licenses, can not and will not move at social media speeds.

Social media has many more iterations to go through in order to develop the depth of ECM requirements. SharePoint will run in parallel of the ECM suites for some time to come, maybe nibbling off bits of functionality and previous integrations. In the mean time, ECM will hopefully rewrite their core software to be more open source and model their applications and added value on innovations rather than bandaids.

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