SharePoint altering ECM landscape, survey says

Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 adoption is changing the face of content and document management, but is still not mature enough handle some jobs, according to a survey released by Forrester.

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Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 adoption is changing the face of content and document management, but is still not mature enough handle some jobs, according to a survey released by Forrester.

The survey shows that companies are aggressively adopting SharePoint with the majority of deployments around enterprise content management.

"This thing is growing like a weed," said Kyle McNabb, an analyst at Forrester. But he said that the relative immaturity of the platform will hold it back from some specialised jobs such as contract management.

Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007 is one of the fastest growing products in the company's history and seems to have as many uses as a Swiss Army knife. Its six focus areas are collaboration, portal, search, enterprise content management (ECM), business process management and business intelligence

Just last month, Microsoft added a hosted alternative to fuel adoption.

The Forrester survey, which involved 259 IT professionals, shows that 24 percent are implementing or upgrading to MOSS 2007 now while another 41 percent plan to do so in the next six months. Another 12 percent of users plan to roll MOSS 2007 out in the next 12 months.

ECM was the primary reason for 22 percent of respondents in rolling out MOSS 2007, the survey showed. Next was improved employee communication (17 percent), ability to improve business intelligence usage (16 percent), improve business performance management (15 percent), improve online collaboration with external parties (9 percent), and provide employees with unified communications (9 percent).

Of those deploying MOSS 2007 for ECM, 52 percent said it would replace an existing ECM system, while 32 percent said they would deploy it to staff not currently using ECM, and 16 percent said they would deploy MOSS 2007 alongside current ECM installations.

McNabb says while MOSS 2007 is gaining popularity it is not without its limitations in terms of handling large amounts of data.

"SharePoint is going to get used and it is going to get used heavily," he says. "But with any app there is a tipping point where it slows down and that is where other ECM vendors can step in." He said those vendors could focus on keeping SharePoint efficient by being a back-end archive.

"If a corporate legal environment wants to do contract management they are probably going to go elsewhere. If an R&D group wants to do schematic management they are probably going to go elsewhere."

The survey also showed that a majority of users (60 percent) planned a phased implementation or upgrade of specific departments or users on a project-by-project basis. A total of 40 percent said they would execute a broad, enterprise-wide rollout over a short timeframe.

McNabb said the survey shows that MOSS 2007 is giving users what they have been looking for, easy integration with Microsoft Office desktop applications at a reasonable price. And he said that the popularity of the Microsoft platform most likely means that users have found the general-purpose document management platform they have been seeking.

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