Microsoft Sharepoint. A missed opportunity?


Since I’d been very enamored with Sharepoint services a year ago (built five intranet proof of concepts in a few hours), I thought I’d sign up at Microsoft’s site to get in to the free 30 day trial demo and see what was new.

As you can see from the screens above, my experience wasn’t very good. The screenshot on the left is what I experienced over and over again when trying to register (it finally was fixed by a server administrator, I presume, since I was able to get in an hour later).

The screenshot on the right is what I experienced inside the demo when clicking on the “Home” link from within the demo site itself. If you popup the window and squint, perhaps you’ll notice I came in on Firefox and Mac OS X, but this is a server issue.

Microsoft may be missing an opportunity.

Microsoft has a golden opportunity with Sharepoint. It’s powerful, click-n-configure for power users, allows sharing of “webparts” (Microsoft’s version of portlets), and uses Office in some unique and powerful ways.

Sharepoint could provide Microsoft with an on-ramp to the Web for companies that can’t afford either services-heavy, open source software development or commercial packages–as well as providing Microsoft Business Solutions ( e.g., CRM, GreatPlains/Navision, et al) with the opportunity to incorporate these offerings into a holistic SMB platform. I could imagine a scenario for small-to-midsize-businesses (SMB) that would enable a company to build and deliver:

+ A web site with the use of the HUGE number of templates and sets of functionality in Sharepoint

+ Users & Groups (I assume that Sharepoint has access control levels for granular access to webparts and content?). If so, then sites could be setup so that multiple constitutents could gain access to a personalized experience and/or access to specific sections of the site

+ Ecommerce (with the Holy Grail for intellectual property firms…digital fullfillment/downloading)

+ Intranet collaborative uses (which already exist)

+ Tie-in’s to CRM, financials, etc.

The kicker? The current targeting of Sharepoint is for the upper ends of SMB (~$500M-$1B) and seemingly for intranets only. Everyone is chasing that and forgetting that the low end of the scale (<$250M companies and especially very small business in the <$10M range) is where the action is as well as innovation AND the need to have a world-class Web presence for peanuts.

The partner ecosystem exists, the demand is there, where is Microsoft? Is it all about the “Live” offerings?

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About Steve Borsch

Strategist. Learner. Idea Guy. Salesman. Connector of Dots. Friend. Husband & Dad. CEO. Janitor. More here.

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Podcasting hit the mainstream in July of 2005 when Apple added podcast show support within iTunes. I'd seen this coming so started podcasting in May of 2005 and kept going until August of 2007. Unfortunately was never 'discovered' by national broadcasters, but made a delightfully large number of connections with people all over the world because of these shows. Click here to view the archive of my podcast posts.