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SharePoint 2010 good, Enterprise 2.0 tools may be better

If you’ve missed the SharePoint boat, now might not be the best time to buy your ticket.

While Microsoft unveiled some new features in SharePoint 2010, new users might not find them compelling enough to jump on board now. Many of its collaboration features and Enterprise 2.0 tools have been in the market for years and, according to a recent Forrester Research report, the feature set may be overkill for midmarket IT organizations with basic needs.

The report goes on to say that current users will most likely be pleased with the updates because SharePoint 2010 fills in some of the gaps left in the 2007 version — such as improved social networking tools and better integration with business applications.

New users should consider SharePoint 2010 a major strategic move, however, and evaluate their needs before implementing the system, the report says. Those looking to add a single workload, such as social networking tools, may find a better match in a point solution.

My first thought: What?! This complex, expensive, difficult-to-manage-and-maintain system may be overkill for some organizations? Shocking.

My second thought: Yes, SharePoint has evolved — but so has the rest of the world. Organizations that wanted social networking and Enterprise 2.0 tools were not waiting around for Microsoft to do something about it — they were looking into Web-based applications from other vendors long before Microsoft got into the game.

Social computing got the attention of the enterprise in recent years. Young, startup vendors offering Web-based Enterprise 2.0 applications, for example, quickly filled in where the larger, more established vendors (such as Microsoft) left off.

Take Socialtext: It started in 2002 as a wiki provider, is now a well-known company in the Enterprise 2.0 tools market and recently announced record quarter-over-quarter bookings growth in 2009. Jive Software also announced growth in 2009, and was placed in the Leaders Quadrant of Gartner, Inc.’s 2009 “Magic Quadrant for Social Software in the Workplace” Report.

So, if you’ve survived this long without SharePoint, is there any reason to start now? With less expensive alternatives already on the market, why wait for the Microsofts and the IBMs to catch up?

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