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The Swiss Army knife for information professionals

Ten years after its first beta version, Microsoft’s SharePoint is now gathering momentum in organisations around the world. Hervé Basset reviews what this means for information professionals

Without any doubt, Microsoft’s SharePoint was the ‘star’ of the Documation exhibition held in Paris in March. In addition, for the first time, Microsoft organised a ShareFEST in the USA in April to focus exclusively on the use of SharePoint by pharmaceutical firms. Almost all information professionals have or will soon have some exposure to SharePoint. SharePoint is a document management

system, a collaboration solution and a web editor all at the same time. Microsoft uses the term EIM (enterprise information management) to describe this collaborative platform. It offers a wealth of functionality, including document and records management, team collaboration, intranet development, social networking and web publishing. Like a Swiss Army knife, SharePoint

has almost everything you need to create a collaborative intranet, although critics and established players might argue that it does not necessarily have the best modules. However, the question is not whether SharePoint perfectly performs all its tasks, but whether your organisation needs to merge all its applications within one system. One of the key considerations is the time

savings of integration; of local applications, MS Office tools (emails, Word documents, etc.), internal production and external content feeds. And, to be honest, SharePoint integrates all these very well, with a light infrastructure. It is easy to deploy, but still leaves your head of IT confident about security and development.

22 Research Information August/September 2010

‘SharePoint is now finding its way and becoming

ever more widely adopted, especially since its third release in 2007’

2010 is the SharePoint year After tough beginnings with the beta version in 2000, SharePoint is now finding its way and becoming ever more widely adopted, especially since its third release in 2007. It has become Microsoft’s fastest-growing product ever and will probably become the market leader, as often happens with Microsoft key products. Thanks to an aggressive licence strategy, millions of deployments have already been achieved. Almost all the big pharmaceutical firms, for example, have turned to SharePoint as the collaborative portal for their internal communication and data sharing. Estimations of user numbers vary from five million to 100 million and it is the only product worldwide that is referenced in six different Gardner’s Magic Quadrants. SharePoint is already one of the most widely- used enterprise platforms, and projections indicate that adoption rates will continue. To reinforce this massive success, Microsoft

is deploying its impressive marketing machine to make 2010 the SharePoint year. SharePoint 2010 is now integrated into the MS Office suite. Windows SharePoint Services (WSS), which, associated with Search Server Express, offers a good basis to start a collaborative project, is now offered

free of charge and downloadable by small- business companies. SharePoint might become as common as Word or Excel in our business environment.

The crème of Web 2.0 The latest release, SharePoint 2010, is clearly oriented towards internal social networks and is introduced as the Enterprise 2.0 platform. The first element of Microsoft’s strategy was to keep the best of the Web 2.0 concepts. Using MySite (your personal page) you will feel like you are checking your Facebook profile, except that here your ‘friends’ are your colleagues. The Communicator suite is a mix of MSN, Skype and Twitter. And YouTube-like podcasts from your marketing department can be completely integrated with your intranet platform. From Office Word, you can publish a post directly into your blog with one click. Of course, the blogging solution is lacking when compared to the wonderful WordPress, but it could be easily adopted by your communications department. Because they don’t require special IT knowledge, some out-of-the-box features like native wikis and blogs can be used easily such as innovative solutions to disseminate knowledge and to communicate to end-users. This is being used, for example, by the OECD Development Centre Library. The second part of Microsoft’s strategy was

to sign partnerships with pure players to adapt core-business applications on the SharePoint silo. NextDOCS and CSC FirstPoint provide complete document management systems, compliant with regulatory requirements. Symix has developed specific web parts to help project teams to share things like lab data, documents and tasks. OneNote was deployed for Pfizer to help

drug discovery teams with collaboration. According to the pharmaceutical giant, first results are impressive in terms of productivity. OneNote is a kind of project notebook

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