What is the future of SharePoint is a question that many end user organizations as well as independent software vendors (ISVs) are asking. I have mentioned multiple times that I work extensively within SharePoint and Office 365 ecosystem and have visibility to what people are asking for and how they see SharePoint on-premises future in their organization. According to a online survey of 422 AIIM members (from December 2014 to January 2015), 26 percent of the organizations have stalled projects or have failed to live up to their expectations (37 percent). Most of the respondents blame the lack of senior management support for the projects. Besides the lack of support, training and planning was seen as a big factor as well in the failures.
However, what was interesting in the survey was that 75 percent of the respondents said that they are sticking to their SharePoint and committing to make it work and with a substantial number of organizations looking at Office 365 Online version to complement or replace their on-premises version. I am seeing the same thing happening across the board when talking to organizations, both system integrators as well as end user organizations.
Based on my own experience when talking to enterprises especially in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, there is still a place for on-premises version of SharePoint especially in scenarios where integration is needed to back-end systems such as ERP, HR and other enterprise content and document management systems. Based on the survey, 48 percent of the 422 AIIM members have to align their SharePoint deployments with Information Governance policies.
One of the biggest issues that most enterprises have with SharePoint is the user adoption where end users are given a bad user experience (UX) and this has become a major sticking point for many organizations.The survey listed SharePoint as hard to use in 30 percent of the organizations that were surveyed. It is obvious that this needs to become better in respect to SharePoint deployments.
Some organizations have seen this as a business opportunity like BPA Solutions out of Switzerland with 30+ enterprise level web parts that provides a development environment or abstraction layer on top of SharePoint that enables developers to create an UX experience where the end users sometimes does not even realize he/she is using SharePoint. BPA also increases the developer productivity as each web part provides given functionality and what is needed from the developer is to configure the web part behavior.
The question that many SharePoint software vendors have is how long they should invest in SharePoint on-premises development and when to move towards Office 365 development model with best practices and patterns provided by Microsoft. There is no question in my mind that that time has become and many organizations such as BPA Solutions have worked on an Office 365 solution using supporting technologies such as Microsoft Azure.
Based on the feedback from the field (Microsoft partners and end user organizations), there will be organizations with SharePoint for many years to come, but I expect ISVs to have harder time to get larger deals and having deployments that do not support a migration strategy to Office 365 going forward. There needs to be a plan that can be presented to potential leads that want to invest in an on-premises solution. Most SharePoint ISVs provide private cloud option that smoothens the move to the cloud but most of these deployments are on-premise SharePoint run in Infrastructure- as-a-Service (IaaS) mode. It will bring the ISV to enable subscription-based business, but it does not provide the solution model that Office 365 requires.