Since co-presenting the keynote for SharePoint Saturday Virginia Beach in January, and the release on my e-book, I’ve had many interesting conversations with folks inside and outside the SharePoint community about what makes this community special, and whether it can be repeated in other Microsoft product communities. Is the passion and drive of this community unique to SharePoint? Or is it just a byproduct of the consumer-based social computing revolution that we’re currently experiencing? It seems to me that we have the classic ‘chicken or the egg’ dilemma.
In my view, there is no single factor as to how the SharePoint community came into being, and has become somewhat of a juggernaut. The components included:
- Microsoft filled a gap in the industry, providing a tool (which morphed into a platform) to help automate portal and website creation.
- Their solution lacked documentation.
- A number of internal engineers and external champions started sharing their knowledge.
- And all of this happened at a time when social tools started gaining in popularity, beginning with blogs and expanding through Twitter, Facebook, and other tools.
It was the perfect storm of platform, content, champions, and social tools that got the community off the ground and has, within the past couple years (due in large part with the fervor around SharePoint 2010) exploded worldwide. And it won’t be slowing down any time soon. With the hardening of the platform, what we’ll see next is a shift in content away from admins and developers and into the realm of information workers and business users. The conversation is already turning more and more toward governance and productivity and end user adoption – which means that people are using it, and want to know more about how to optimize the platform and get more value out of their investment.
The community pie is getting bigger, folks. Come grab your slice.