SharePoint – Collaboration & Convergence

Recently when my digital TV died down on me I reported the issue to my service provider. I entered their formal channel through a customer care executive who told me that a person would come and check up on the whole thing. And then before I even had the guy standing at my doorstep I received a text message on my mobile from the company stating that my complaint had been resolved.

I checked the service and it was still not working. So I called up again to verify and they said that they had handed over the complaint to an engineer who would later work on it. Now how on earth was my complaint resolved here? It was not! I still could not watch my favorite show! But just because they had assigned the complaint over to a technical guy, the customer care reported it as resolved.

Now the circus did not end here. The engineer came and meddled around. But when he couldn’t get it to work he said he would need to go back and report it. He went back and checked a box stating complaint attended to but not solved. Their reporting system didn’t have a place to detail out the problem. So then I get a call back from their call centre asking me to relay the whole complaint again. This time again, they lodge a different complaint and assign it to a new engineer with the same text message popping up on my mobile! And here I was biting on my nails in frustration!

What was really happening was that this company’s processes, although aimed to serve the customer better, were not aligned properly. Whatever information they had coming in the system was not getting stored centrally. Different departments had different updates on the same issue. This was a classic case of information mismanagement.

As a CIO, how can you tie down this exchange to one point? How can you make sure your departments don’t run haywire doing their own thing? How do you break down the information silos and create a central information repository? The magic word is ‘collaboration’. And how do you collaborate on an enterprise level with multiple parties? SharePoint is your answer!

Microsoft’s SharePoint Server can get your internal and external resources working hand in glove with each other. It can tie down your management, employees, business partners, associates, customers, and distribution channels all through a single string of information.

The past few years have seen SharePoint’s popularity grow with leaps and bounds. As a result, Microsoft recently launched iusesharepoint.com to assist users of SharePoint 2010. The website hands out useful tips and information about this centralized collaborative tool.

So then what makes SharePoint such a popular service? Let’s examine.

Enhanced Performance: SharePoint allows your internal and external resources to access and share the same kind of updated business information through a common portal. With no information potholes left, your team’s performance improves. Additionally, you can easily identify the core competencies of your people and deploy them accordingly for better results.

Collaborative Tool: SharePoint allows authorized employees to create workspaces, post and edit business relevant documents, view and update calendars, and even host web applications. They can post important notifications, announcements, and alerts at enterprise level. SharePoint’s convenient offline synchronization with mobile devices means it tops the charts as an excellent collaborative tool.

Document Management: SharePoint’s features like check-in, check-out, and document version control make document management hassle-free. You can set up role based access to the stored documents with only authorized people having the ability to edit and revise documents. You can further determine how the documents get distributed and used within your system through SharePoint. Thus, SharePoint is your welcome respite from reams and reams of paperwork and heaps of files.

Secure Administrative Control: CIOs often lose sleep worrying about the security and control of their business critical information. But not with SharePoint! You can store and secure item lists and libraries in SharePoint’s dashboard and centrally administer it for effective data lifecycle management. Thus, what SharePoint really does is it allows you to deploy a collaborative but secure environment with minimal administrative time and efforts.

Scalable & Flexible Framework: One of the biggest USPs of SharePoint is its ability to work with both single server and multiple server support. This means you can easily scale it to accommodate increased business activity. Additionally, you can grant access to unlimited number of users in SharePoint architecture. You have the flexibility to create multiple accesses through different names. But more importantly, what you get is a performance oriented output for your business.

Seamless Integration: Integrating a new system in an existing IT architecture can be a big headache for CIOs. This is where SharePoint breaks the rules. The server can easily integrate into an existing Windows infrastructure with features like Windows Outlook and Windows browsers. You can create links between SharePoint hosted websites and other applications. You can import and integrate information from different sources and store it centrally. Similarly, you can also distribute the stored information across different enterprise systems and touch points.

Standardized Content Management: SharePoint also has this ability to standardize management of internally collected information, externally available knowledge, and web content. You can set controls and standards of creating fresh, relevant, and high quality content and publishing it. So besides just deciding where you store information, you can also define how you store it.

Proactive Response: With so much relevant information readily available in one central repository, you can better analyze business trends and forecast forthcoming changes. Thus, it gives you enough time to proactively realign your enterprise processes and policies to the changing market conditions and practice effective change management.

Cost-Effective: With SharePoint you can share information across your enterprise through a single and scalable infrastructure. Additionally, it has a slew of tools available to help you efficiently utilize the stored information and draw out maximum value from it. This eliminates your need to purchase other proprietary software or licensed applications. It also increases your hosting space to accommodate increasing requirements of a growing business. You can also reduce your operational cost and training cost. Centrally available information leads to quicker output and faster time to market.

With so much going on for Microsoft’s SharePoint, its popularity and fan following is rightly justified. So if you are considering SharePoint for your enterprise, consult a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner like Radixweb. If you have still not thought about it, then you better start thinking for your competitors have already started using it.

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