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Familiar SharePoint Story: Slow User Adoption Rates

harmon.ie builds software tools to facilitate cross platform data communication for enterprise software; for example Microsoft® SharePoint® and Lotus Notes from IBM® . The company focuses on a specific area of need that it claims is pervasive: slow user adoption rates of purchased software that should enhance collaboration between silos within a business but, somehow, falls woefully short of the mark.

harmon.ie cites Forrester Research as an authority with an opinion that supports harmon.ie’s business premise. The specific piece of research from Forrester is Forrester’s September, 2011 study, “The State Of Workforce Technology Adoption: US Benchmark 2011”. harmon.ie claims that real world enterprise business is “across the board [underutilizing] collaboration and social tools with 64% of surveyed businesses receiving few benefits, if any, from their investments.” (quoted from harmon.ie November 7, 2011 press release). harmon.ie delves further into the Forrester report, noting that “only 20% of business workers use team document sharing sites such as SharePoint daily.”

harmon.ie is not the only ISV or knowledge management consulting firm that has stepped into the market for “adoption hastening” software and solutions. Just yesterday, November 13, 2011, Susan Hanley of Susan Hanley, LLC published a post to Network World Microsoft Subnet where she introduces a partial solution to the adoption issue, something she calls “Team Member Service Level Agreement”, which is targeted to enhance the utility of SharePoint Team Sites for enterprise business. Ms. Hanley’s solution drives collaborators to utilize SharePoint Team Site document repository rather than email to ensure that:

  • Written discussions can be built upon materials that are available to all members of teams
  • Any all information about the Team Site (even unfinished documents) are commonly accessible
  • Drafts and other early stage position statements are properly identified with the appropriate Status attribute, etc

There are, in fact, many businesses built on the assumption that enterprise business has a vested interest in improving the rate of adoption of SharePoint across silos. The value proposition for these efforts, broadly speaking, is that money spent (to purchase SharePoint) will have a greater return as the result of spending more money to improve the rate of user adoption. We are not so sure that this bet will pay off, across the board, but we welcome the efforts of entrepeneurs who see a business opportunity in the need to improve the rate to which SharePoint is utilized in the enterprise. Perhaps the efforts would be that much more compelling if they were coupled with an effort to address a specific business need; for example, compliance activity reporting for regulated enterprise business. Now that type of effort would be real interesting.

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