Archive for April, 2008

SharePoint is off to a great “ECM” start in 2008: A Review of Key Industry Events

April 1, 2008

The beginning of 2008 has been challenging due to our declining economic situation in the United States. Uncertainty abounds throughout corporate America, regardless of business or industry. SharePoint® 2007 (the third release of the product lineage) was introduced and met with rapid adoption and very visible demand. Now, almost one year later, it appears that the viral nature and customer interest in SharePoint is not yet letting up. Coming fresh off of travels to AIIM ECM industry events as well as SharePoint events, I would like to recap what I have seen and experienced so far this year with the “SharePoint Effect” and discuss how it is impacting the ECM community.

Microsoft SharePoint Conference 2008
Attendance figures at the Microsoft SharePoint Conference (interestingly held on the same dates as the annual AIIM Exposition and Conference) are alone compelling. Event planners had capped the event planning at 3,000 attendees, but due to unexpected demand, the ceiling for attendees was raised to 3,800. The conference completely sold out and at the time of the event, still had a waiting list of over 800 people who could not acquire passes. Microsoft has noted that the event will be increased in size next year to accommodate the high demand from the user and partner community.

One particular point of interest was that this year’s event was keynoted by none other than Mr. Gates himself. This certainly demonstrates that Microsoft is putting a lot of heavy hitters behind the SharePoint product and the community. I must admit the novelty of seeing Bill Gates in one of his last keynotes prior to retirement piqued my own personal interest and I made sure to get in line early. I wound up in the fifth row along with my Clearview colleagues; my photo of Bill Gates was a particular highlight of the week, no doubt exposing my inner geek.

Perhaps one of the key takeaways from Bill’s presentation was his deep knowledge of SharePoint (as is his knowledge for all Microsoft products). It is very rare to find a key executive from a company so large to have such depth and breadth of knowledge and to be able to articulate that to the audience.

My take on Bill’s presentation was the message, “We are just getting started with SharePoint.”

As Microsoft’s platform for business applications, the manner in which SharePoint ties the front office to the back office infrastructure—as well as to all points in between—makes it a particularly effective and attractive solution. No wonder Bill revealed that Microsoft is anticipating SharePoint 2007 license revenue in excess of 1 billion dollars when Microsoft closes out its fiscal year in June 2008.

The remainder of the event was very motivational. As the week went along, more and more people approached the Clearview booth, interested in learning more about ECM, how it can help their business, and how Clearview makes ECM relevant to the SharePoint community.

The one complaint I might have about the event was the lack of tangible ECM presentations around transactional content processing and other business value-aligned presentations. The ECM track was pretty lightweight and I heard many attendees voice some surprise that there wasn’t a little more depth in this particular track of the conference.

AIIM Exposition and Conference 2008
I am quite positive that the AIIM organization is pleased that they divested their interest in the conference itself a few years back. The attendance at the event continued its decline, with the last day being pretty much worthless (from a vendor’s perspective, at least). I had one of my long-time industry acquaintances text message me while I attended the SharePoint Conference to tell me he was at the “AIIM funeral” and how wise it was that I had elected to go to the SharePoint event instead. This year’s AIIM conference once again lacked any noticeable advances in ECM technologies, as reflected by lackluster announcements from key industry vendors.

Now not all was bleak at the event, as my colleagues at Clearview were present in the Microsoft partner pavilion, and Clearview enjoyed one of the highest (if not the absolute highest) level of visitors to any Microsoft partner booth. This illustrates that ECM continues to garner high demand and interest, especially when aligned with SharePoint in such a clear and comprehensive manner as we have done at Clearview.

I know that 2009 will most likely see the event having more and more “co-located” events at the same time and venue. This certainly is one way of increasing traffic to the show floor, but it is not certainly driving higher quality of real live customers with ECM budgets and projects in tow.

AIIM ECM Solutions Seminar Spring 2008 Series: “The SharePoint Effect”
I still believe that one of the best efforts from the AIIM organization has been their rapid response to the SharePoint phenomenon and their ability to create a venue for ECM and SharePoint constituents to come together and align these two worlds of collaboration and ECM in a meaningful fashion. I am currently en route to the Denver event after having just launched the first event of the Spring tour in Houston last week. It was incredibly motivational, with over 180 total attendees and approximately 110 of those attending our Clearview presentation. We are looking forward to what the rest of the six-city tour will hold. I personally look forward to meeting some of you and discussing the SharePoint effect and how it is impacting your organization–whether you are an end user of ECM or SharePoint technologies or you are a reseller or systems integrator with a business built around either of these two technology powerhouses.