• SharePoint is a lot of things to a lot of people, ranging from a business intelligence platform to a site builder to a social hub of company information to a powerful rapid communication tool. That last potential use is becoming more prominent, and according to a survey from Robert Half Technology, it's even edging out email.

    The survey of 1400 CIOs asked where in-office communication was going in the future. The respondents were asked to rate whether email or non-email methods, including SharePoint, would be more popular in the upcoming years. While many felt the two methods would be equally popular (38%), the largest number of respondents said that SharePoint and other instant communication options would be somewhat more popular than email (14% of respondents). 13% said that SharePoint and other similar methods would be "much more popular."

    The reasons boil down to speed, convenience, and social elements. Sharing through SharePoint gives access to options like tags, invitations for collaboration, group forums, and increased teamwork. John Reed of Robert Half Technology stated that "Although email remains an important communication tool, the increased use of real-time technologies affects the IT environment." As a result, "Employers are looking for the right people to deploy these tools in new ways to increase efficiency."

    The reality is that every company will behave differently, but those on the technological frontlines will gain a lot of benefit from using SharePoint, instant messaging, and social services to supplement their core communication – whatever method they happen to use for that. The difficulty now, as it was with email long ago, is facing the learning curve. As you approach this major platform, it's wise to enlist help from those who are already experts. If you want to learn what SharePoint Engine can do for you, contact us today.

  • There's no doubt that the world, Microsoft included, is moving more toward the "cloud." However, while cloud solutions offer a great number of advantages, they also have limitations and potential downfalls. We'll take a look at those advantages and disadvantages with Microsoft Office 365 and the cloud-based SharePoint Online.


    • You reduce your cost. Since you no longer have to run and maintain your service, you could save a substantial amount each month.
    • Microsoft keeps your privacy in-tact by allowing you to create group-facing intranet pages.
    • The new design has several areas of improvement, especially when it comes to Silverlight visuals.
    • Employees can share and access group documents even more easily, from wherever they are.
    • You lose control. While you may be paying less for the maintenance of your servers, they're also no longer your servers.
    • You can't implement farm-level solutions; absolutely everything has to be made in the sandbox.
    • Your entire staff will face a learning curve as they migrate to the new system.
    • Microsoft's servers aren't completely free from errors. Earlier this year, their BPOS system went down for over a day.
    Do the pros outweigh the cons? That really depends on where you're coming from. For many groups, the decreased cost is well worth sacrificing a bit of control and learning to use the sandbox for site customization. For others, however, their current version of SharePoint resolves all their needs with ease and facing the new learning curve and potential problems is an unnecessary hassle.

    Regardless of what you choose, SharePoint Engine can help you do it right. Give us a call today for a free consultation discussing how we can work together.

  • We previously discussed some ways you can get started with accessing SharePoint right from your tablet computer – be it an iPad, Galaxy Tab, or something else entirely. While the tips and workarounds provided in this series will let many users do everything they need to with SharePoint, some users will still face limitations.

    Those limitations vary greatly dependent on how you're accessing your SharePoint content. Each application, including those outlined previously, will hit against walls when it comes to accessing SharePoint. This will be especially true as we transition to the Office 365 version of SharePoint Online. Applications can also have gaps between OS versions or major SharePoint updates where the app loses features or stops working entirely.

    Those using the mobile browsers provided by their tablet or smartphone are likely to avoid those gaps and stutters, but there are separate limitations brought about by the mobile browsers themselves. Mobile Safari, the most popular option (and the one tied to the iPad), doesn't allow Rich Text editing, as just one example. Additionally, browsing through advanced menus or web parts can become impossible.

    These problems will diminish in the future; the upcoming versions of iOS (including 5.0, which is currently in beta) will reduce issues with rich text, Microsoft may release their own fully capable applications, and SharePoint Online may integrate more mobile-friendly features. In the meantime, users can still get a lot out of SharePoint while using their tablet.

  • SharePoint is meant to bring the knowledge workers of the 21st century together, making the most out of every synergistic opportunity. However, with so many different resources inside SharePoint, it can be hard to make the most out of every one. Here are four tips to making sure your accumulated company expertise isn't going to waste.

    1: Use the Social Profiles

    There are a variety of social tools built into SharePoint. The profiles allow users to connect with one another, see which employees have what expertise, and otherwise get in touch with the right person for the job. If you haven't already created profiles, set aside a time where users can fill out their information completely.

    2: Set Aside "Note Time"

    Your experts can make use of the social elements of SharePoint to create notes that are then shared with others and made accessible for self-training in the future. These can be highly valuable – if they exist. The problem is that most of your experts don't want to take time away from their active projects for a note the won't get any credit for. Give them credit by setting aside a specific time for writing these notes up.

    3: Create a Note Directory

    While the users can share notes directly, it's still nice to have a comprehensive list. This is especially valuable for employees who want to learn more on a topic, since a compilation of valuable notes makes that education possible without burning more time from the expert who wrote it.

    4: Enable Curation Elements

    Curation – the crowdsourced vetting of your work community – can be incredibly effective. However, some elements of posts (such as ratings) can be intimidating at first. However, allowing this human feedback is a great way to ensure that the best notes and articles are visible without much digging.

    There are dozens of other ways you can make the most of your experts, but the four items above are a great way to start inching into the development of your SharePoint social elements.

  • Everyone has their own style when it comes to learning new-to-them software products. Many of the best learn by doing, but others have more of a “read first, play later” style. For those of us who love our hard copies, here are reviews of a few popular books about SharePoint.

    1. Beginning Sharepoint Designer 2010

    Written by: Bryan Phillips, Asif Rehmani, Marcy Kellar, and Wodrow W. Windischman

    Material covered: Using SharePoint Designer in an enterprise, creating and modifying web pages, using CSS editing tools to customize themes, using Data View, and integrating with Visual Studio, Visio, and InfoPath.

    What people are saying: Reviews over all seem to be very positive. Readers appreciate how this book, true to it’s title, makes SharePoint more accessible to beginners, and the fact that it covers the program in fair depth at the same time. One review mentioned that the editing could be better--a common problem with of-the-moment tech books.

    2. Professional SharePoint 2010 Administration

    Written by: Todd Klindt, Shane Young, and Steve Caravajal

    Material covered: This is an in-depth guidebook. It walks you through everything from installation of the new 2010 software, to the changed features of the new release, to architecture planning and disaster recovery.

    What people are saying: This book seems to be exceptionally popular with readers. They praise the comprehensive coverage, the clear explanations, and the useful walk-throughs. If you’re going to own one book on SharePoint Administration, this might be it.

    3. InfoPath with Sharepoint 2010 How-To

    Written by: Steven Mann

    Material Covered: Mostly, how to solve issues in SharePoint using InfoPath. It offers “over 140 solutions and scenarios”--that is, it describes scenarios and offers potential solutions to them. Basically, this is a great way to expand your toolbox for finding solutions to your SharePoint issues.

    What people are saying: Readers love how concise this is. It is unusual to find a software writer who prefers to be engaging instead of comprehensive; in this case, that strategy seems to have paid off. Additionally, reviewers think many of the tutorials are particularly good.
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