Thoughts on SharePoint 2013 After the Conference

It’s no secret that when SharePoint 2013 showed itself, I was horrified.  I absolutely hated it.  And in fact, I hated it so much that I decided I would rather leave the industry than be forced to adopt it.  I had my exit strategy all worked out.  I’ve refused to speak out about any part of it, and this is my first real blog on the subject.

Why did I think this way?  This is only my 3rd version of SharePoint, and every single version that comes out looks and works completely different from the previous version.  As a producer of training material and someone who is in the front line of adoption of SharePoint into business, I was completely demoralised by SharePoint 2013.  All the work done in SharePoint 2007 and 2010 had to be redone – yet again.  All the users’ mindsets changed, yet again.

Realising the magnitude of the work ahead; of the titanic struggle it is to get people to use and love SharePoint at all and now expecting them to change everything they have spent years getting used to;  the immense time it would take to rewrite and relearn everything – again; having to break it to clients that all the training would have to be started again, from scratch.  It was just too much to bear.

I am not an early adopter.  My clients and team are not early adopters.  Most of my clients are only just installing SharePoint 2010 right now.  We get to see how things turn out because we’re there together for years slowly figuring out how and if this technology can make a difference and getting people to use it.  And this mad rush to bring out new versions and completely change every version every couple of years doesn’t sit well with us.

There was a demo of SharePoint 2013 at our Microsoft offices a few months ago. A packed room; mixed audience of business decision makers, business users, hard core techies and vendors.  Reaction of the business people I spoke to; mostly terrified – like myself.  The governance issues.  The training issues.  The budget issues. The risk issues. The platform management issues. We knew what this version meant and it wasn’t pretty. My clients had the same sentiment that I did :  “No thank you”.

And then I went to the Microsoft SharePoint Conference in Vegas 2 weeks ago. In the keynote we were shown again what SharePoint 2013 can do.  To my surprise, I actually started getting a little excited. I sat up, listened and paid attention.  (You can watch the keynote on the link above).  It motivated me to attend more sessions on what it can do after I had decided I could care less and wasn’t going to attend one of them.  I saw some really cool stuff, things users would love!  My esteemed colleague and friend Francois Pienaar even noticed my change in attitude and asked if I was going to stay now.

Despite the complaints I had about the conference, the one thing it achieved was to change my mind about leaving the industry permanently.  The people I met, the conversations I had and the knowledge I gained have bought me the will to continue – and to do a good job in the process.  I’ve gone from a completely negative mindset to one that sees opportunities in all of it, despite the monstrous work it will take.  Not right now, in the future; but I feel like I actually may be able to handle it now.  It’ll take a few more months of thinking about how to do it all.

What makes me sad however is the months I lost because of the bad communication I got about 2013.  I have refused to evangelise it and gave it a vote of no confidence purely because of the mailing lists I was on, the demo’s I attended, the blogs I read.  I listened to all the wrong people and it resulted in a severe identity crisis that nearly made me walk out the door.

So my message here to Microsoft is – get a consistent message out there and make sure the right people are saying the right things to the right audience.  One size does not fit all and it causes untold damage.

My message to business decision makers and business users is be careful what you read and take to heart; choose your sources carefully.  Read things from like-minded people only.  I would hate for you to have the same experience I just did.

My message to the techies out there is use this blog as a case study as to why it’s so hard to get people to adopt SharePoint.  That you can’t just keep throwing new technology out there and expect it to be used.  Just changing the mindset of people to even accept the possibility of wanting to hear more can take months.  I don’t just do SharePoint, I use SharePoint – like my clients.

My message to anyone on SharePoint 2007 or 2010 (majority of the planet!)- it’s ok.  Don’t feel pressure to do anything you don’t want to do.  SharePoint is going to be around for a very long time, and you can catch up to whatever version you want whenever you are good and ready, and not a minute before.  There is no rush and every version has it’s business benefits.  Plus you don’t get to be vendor guinea pigs while they use you to figure out how SharePoint 2013 works.  If you take another 2 years or more to upgrade, the vendors truly will know their story by then and you’ll get solid, real world advice.

The message I have to myself is that things change and there is no stopping that; but you always have a choice about what you want to do. Also it’s natural to resist change, that’s what humans do.  That there are the most amazing people in this community globally that make a difference every day in their users groups and offices that make it all worthwhile.  That it’s ok to not be an early adopter; there is time enough for everything later, I don’t have to beat myself up about it. I’m exactly where I am meant to be.

PS to all business users – you are going to LOVE Community Sites in SharePoint 2013.  And one day when we’re ready, we’ll take the journey together.

Much love and apologies for such a long blog.

About Veronique Palmer

Empowering people one at a time.
This entry was posted in SharePoint 2013, User Adoption, User Groups / Conferences. Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Thoughts on SharePoint 2013 After the Conference

  1. Pingback: SharePoint Online or On Premises?; Windows 8 Adoption Slow; Is This the End for Microsoft? - SharePoint Daily - Bamboo Nation

  2. Pingback: SharePoint Daily » Blog Archive » SharePoint Online or On Premises?; Windows 8 Adoption Slow; Is This the End for Microsoft?

  3. @Olivier – Time will tell on your adoption predictions. Let’s hope so. Do we even know what business as usual means anymore? It all changes so fast every day. But there’s never a dull moment for sure.

    @Stefan – Yes you’re absolutely right. It’s going to take a lot longer than one day or one hour to communicate everything about the platform, regardless of the version. I wish I had attended the break-out sessions now man. 🙂

    You know, ultimately, life is all just one big game, and Microsoft has made a great one. We can choose to play or not. These are just the rules of our game.

    PS : Also not a fan of metro, ugh!

    @Mike – We thought of that too, I’ll mail you.


  4. Pingback: Will You Follow SharePoint to the Cloud?; Hot Features of SharePoint 2013; Windows Phone 7.8 This Week? - SharePoint Daily - Bamboo Nation

  5. Pingback: SharePoint Daily » Blog Archive » Will You Follow SharePoint to the Cloud?; Hot Features of SharePoint 2013; Windows Phone 7.8 This Week?

  6. Mike Atkins says:

    Hi Guys,

    What about a couple of us arranging a bootcamp for ouselves? We could divvy up the work of presenting new features / changes, and I am sure that we could organise the “event” without too much fuss (I don’t mind doing some of the legwork for this).

    I have been using SharePoint Foundation 2013, and am starting to enjoy it. i have not used any major features, but the final version has ironed out the glitches with the Preview.


  7. Great post I really enjoyed reading it and I think the problem of miscommunication on the new versions, not even SharePoint 2013, is a global problem. End user and decision makers don’t want to find out if things are useful for them or not. They want to hear what makes sense for them.
    Telling the story of SharePoint 2013 in one day is impossible and will fail. I think hearing what people think, that is cool in the new version is the wrong approach to any software. The goal needs to be to hear, what you currently use and how it has improved.
    If you take the new My Site and the news feed for example. Someone think it’s cool to have Facebook / Yammer on the My Site. The truth is, many decision maker might not use Facebook or think it’s a waste of time. The hidden gems on the My Sites are following sites, get find your workplaces in SharePoint faster, and to have an overview of all your tasks there. Which makes more sense from a business point of view.
    To have drag and drop to a SharePoint document library is great, but a 50 year old assistant, will prefer to copy using the explorer view, which she have learned over the past 10 to 15 years to use. (You can educate them but might not change the way how they work that fast)

    I was at the SharePoint conference too and I really enjoyed the break out sessions because the information you get there was narrowed down to “Things you should know” instead of “Things that someone pretends to be cool”.
    The goal to me is to show people “Things that you should know and I think they are cool”. After eight years working with SharePoint, the community brought out more useful information than the vendor actually does.
    Horrified by the new SharePoint version – yes I was too, BUT.
    Horrified by the new design – yes I was, BUT. (Not a fan of “One metro to rule them all”)

    I think as long as those sentences end with a BUT, it’s time to roll up the sleeves and sort out the good, the bad and the ugly improvements and show people the hidden benefits of the new version.

    Good to hear that you are still with SharePoint and good to have you still in the community too.


  8. Olivier says:

    Good news, you’re staying in business 🙂
    I believe that for business newcomers, SharePoint 2013 has a potential to have a faster adoption than 2010, with enhancements in the user interface (finally consistent on mobile!), some interesting social features, a better search integration, a catalog to empower the user with new applications… I think Microsoft is moving on the right direction to make it more user friendly.
    It’s also true that moving from SharePoint 2010 to SharePoint 2013 new features has (a lot of?) user impacts.
    Well of course, training, documentations, support, governance still need to be done, but isn’t it business as usual?


  9. Pingback: 6 Responses to Thoughts on SharePoint 2013 After the Conference | Mastering Sharepoint

  10. Pingback: Veronique Nails It | Owen Allen's Blog

  11. Thanks Wicus. 🙂

    I heard there won’t be a bootcamp for it. Bit sad.


  12. Good article Veronique. Any news on if and when we’ll have a SP2013 bootcamp? I haven’t had a good party in a while, plus the conference is normally interesting as well 🙂


  13. @Owen – you are always such a kind person. It was so lovely to see you too. We didn’t to spend as much time together as the last conference, will have to do better at the next one. 🙂 Thanks for the lovely compliment Owen.

    @Doug – yes good point. It must be very hard to get the right message to the right people. We as readers have to educate ourselves and meet this technology and communication half way. Weeding out what’s useful for our clients is a lot of work and very necessary. But doing the same thing for ourselves is so much harder I am finding.

    Thanks for the heads up on search. The thing is though, that most of our end user base don’t use search to find stuff yet. They still do the click through method to find information. It’s a long learning curve to use the search box instead. Glad to know that when they finally do adopt that way of working, the technology is ready to support their endeavours.

    I think it still comes down to ‘know your audience’ and tailor what you do and communicate accordingly. We simply can’t be all things to all people.


  14. Owen Allen says:

    Good points, Veronique – I do think that this entry should be read by all business users of SharePoint. It really is to everyone’s advantage if all parties have their eyes wide open and have done their research.
    I have no doubt that you will, when the time is right, make up all of the lost time that concerns you now.
    You are an inspiration to all. I’m glad I got a chance to see you again briefly at SPC12. I hope to see you again soon!


  15. Good thoughts. I am glad to see that you are staying. I just wanted to add that I really think there are two main things users can get excited about…one you mentioned: community sites. The other is search. I am actually very excited about the search capabilities in 2013. If you are used to the 2010 search experience there is very little to relearn or learn new, but it is significantly better. It produces better results (better integration of social and filters), responds quicker to changes on sites (always on functionality), and has a really great page preview when you move your cursor over the results. There are other things to get excited about too, but those, I think are the two main ones.

    Another thing I wanted to point out…Microsoft does have some difficulty with it’s messaging (For example, I personally think SkyDrive Pro is an unfortunate, confusing nightmare for users) and they need to improve. But not only do they have an extremely diverse audience of ITPros, Developers, Users, etc, but I also think they don’t always know how people are going to react to some of the changes/enhancements they are making. I personally enjoy trying to figure out what is really relevant and helpful to my clients and the companies I work for. That is the value I add…weeding through the stuff that is out there and saying to my clients, “Here is what I think you will care about.” It is a ton of work, but, for me, helping people recognize the need to change, grow, and learn (and helping them get there) is extremely rewarding.


  16. Pingback: Thoughts on SharePoint 2013 After the Conference - SharePoint User Group Blogs - Bamboo Nation

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