Microsoft's global director of Sharepoint, Arpan Shah, is visiting Australia this week to attend the 2010 SharePoint community conference and preach to CIOs the benefits of integrated portals.
Shah runs the SharePoint technology product managemnt group including the team responsible for a lot of in-bound SharePoint feedback and outbound activites with partners and customers.
"I speak with CIOs, IT managers and developers who are all looking to reduce costs and improve productivity, especially when the economy was flat," Shah said.
"I think people are finally getting the value that SharePoint can provide - it's more than just collaboration. People are asking how to bring SAP data into sharepoint and CIOs want to have that type of conversaiotn. BI is something else CIOs can relate to, whether it's KPIs or reports from SQL Server on a single dashboard."
Shah has been on the SharePoint team at Microsoft for seven years and has seem it grow from a file-sharing and collaboration platform to supporting "new and innovative" ways of working over the past 12 to 24 months.
"People using SharePoint to consolidate applications, improve buisness processes and, with the 2010 release, the social networking features are making it a good place to be innovative."
Shah said the company had invested heavily in ECM and CIOs were asking about one content system for the enterprise with integrated compliance, buisness processes, risk management and line of buisness integration.
"By the end of year we will release Duet Enterprise with SAP which will be built on SharePoint 2010," he said, adding Microsoft will look at a beta release of SharePoint 2010 Online sometime this year.
Microsoft has achieved success in recent years with SharePoint and now claims some $1.3 billion in revenue from the business unit. Shah puts it down to ease of use, integration capabilities and a platform people can add to.
"With more than 17,000 customers using sharepioint, customers can see the real bottom-line benefit in cutting costs if it is adopted well," he said.
"About 4000 partners and over 500,000 developers have done sometihng with sharepoint in the past 12 months."
Shah is also bullish about SharePoint being adopted for external-facing Web sites and CMS applications.
"Since the 2007 release we have over 2300 Web sites - dot com sites - built on Sharepoint like ferrari.com, kraft.com, volvo.com and infosys.com," he said. "We are very deliberate about being a buisness collaboration platform for intranets and the Internet.
"Forrester talks about customers looking at integrating internet and intranet for reducing costs and improving business processes. You can have a workflow for employees and publish it to customers. Also, for developers, if they are using an app for an intranet you can host it to the Internet. This unified platform is growing."
The Australian SharePoint Conference is a community-run event being held in Sydney. About 800 to 1000 people are expected to attend.
"It's too early to say what's coming with future releases [but] we are very excited about SharePoint as an online service," Shah said.
Locally, large enterprises such as the NSW Department of Education and Training and construction company, John Holland, are using SharePoint.