• Microsoft’s Roadmap for SharePoint

    The first sets of “Ask the Experts” (Interactive Q&A) sessions took place today at the European SharePoint Best Practices Conference. There were 4 of these sessions running concurrently so, unless one’s the “Splitman”, one could only attend one of the sessions at a time.

    I attended the “IT PRO” session and one of my questions was around the future of SharePoint. This post attempts to put the question, the response received and my view in clearer context.

    One of the questions I get from my customers is “what is Microsoft’s roadmap for SharePoint over the next 5-10 years?” I know I can get information on current (and immediate next) releases of SharePoint from blogs and stuff, but is there a single, definitive and official resource on Microsoft’s strategic roadmap for SharePoint over the next 5 to 10 years?

    Response (paraphrased):
    The product team blogs are good resources for such information. There are several team blogs including SharePoint team blogs and ECM team blogs. Also you can get similar information (and sometime better information) from the blogs of MVPs.

    My View:
    If I were the CTO of a multi-billion dollar multinational; looking to implement a strategic (5-10 year-plan) enterprise information management, collaboration and social networking platform for my company; would I make such important decisions based on comments, views and opinions of “MVPs” or expressions made on blogs, however objective these views or expressions may be? Honestly, I will not.

    Now, don’t get me wrong. I am NOT; in anyway; implying or suggesting that blog posts or views of MVPs or product teams are not reliable or dependable, nothing could be farther from the truth. I personally use and rely on information found on several websites and blogs owned by product teams and MVPs (SharePoint team, BizTalk team, Joel Oleson, Spencer Harbar, Stephen Thomas, Andrew Connell, etc.). These guys are great at what they do and provide some of the most invaluable contributions to the communities. I also participate in user group meetings, which are certainly very useful and great.

    What I’m saying, instead, is that these user-group meetings, blog posts, comments and views focus more around existing versions of the product and also provide insights into the next immediate release of the product. While all these are good and; without a doubt; very invaluable, they don’t provide businesses and corporations with sufficient information on which to base strategic, long-term technology adoption plans. Again, I’m not trying to play the pessimist here; I personally run lots of sales pitches and recommendations for SharePoint and my honest view is that SharePoint is probably the best collaboration and ECM platform; for businesses; available in the marketplace today. But businesses and key decisions makers need to know this will continue to be true for some time to come and they also need to understand how their technology adoption decisions will affect their TCO, revenues, business directions and risks over a reasonable period of time, after all, it’s all about the business, right?

    Just as Microsoft has roadmaps and future directions for .NET Framework, C#, SQL Server, etc; we need to see definitive and official roadmaps for SharePoint (and, in my view, BizTalk).