SharePoint has conquered the enterprise intranet. Although the conquest is never as bloody nor expensive as more invasive conquests, such as the Mongols under Genghis Khan, intranet citizens are not always thrilled by the new system and structure under Gates Khan.
SharePoint is present in 80% of the Fortune 100; and plays a prominent intranet role in about 70% of knowledge worker intranets (either powering the main intranet portal, or delivering associated collaboration sites and/or document repositories). This in spite of its history.
SharePoint 2007 was a dog; SharePoint 2010 was a dressed-up dog; but SharePoint 2013 represented a leap forward to a more user-friendly, true web platform. SharePoint 2016 saw improvements, but perhaps the most significant advances have come in the last couple of years with the release and evolution of SharePoint online (and eventually SharePoint 2019) with the advent of Office 365.
SharePoint Online, and the on-premises version SharePoint 2019 (though the Online version is constantly being updated and improved upon; 2019 will not be upgraded until 2021 at the earliest) represent considerable improvement to a a very usable, complex digital workplace solution. SharePoint Online Modern Experience has become a truly mobile friendly solution, with a number of improvements to collaboration (particularly Teams and a dedicated mobile app) and for hybrid cloud scenarios.
There are a lot of reasons to buy into or upgrade to Online or 2019: the latest iteration of Microsoft’s portal-web development platform represents a massive, multi-million dollar upgrade on the previous versions of SharePoint (a version that was typically oversold given its underwhelming if not frustrating performance and lack of execution). SharePoint Online and 2019 are massive upgrade from 2013: noticeable improvements to social computing (social networking via Delve and Teams), mobile computing (responsive design with "modern" pages and a dedicated mobile app), better Office integration, cloud and hybrid integration, search and more.
But it’s not all good news, and it’s not a solution that fits every organization.
Here at Prescient Digital Media, we upgraded move to SharePoint Online in Office 365 (which is more feature and functionally rich than SharePoint 2019). Though some problems persist, the bugs and challenges are not as persistent as versions 2013 and 2016. There are some obvious improvements (pros) and some persistent issues (cons):
There are far more pros than cons, but there should be at the price MS charges. SharePoint is very good for a small to medium-size intranet in a .NET environment that requires a web development platform focused on enterprise content management. In some scenarios, SharePoint can excel as a large enterprise intranet, but it can cause headaches if its overly customized .But it is not cheap, typically requires a lot of work and customization, and doesn’t always work as promised.
Speaking of conquest, the Chinese learned Mongol lessons the hard way, and built the Great Wall. Although a firewall is requisite with any intranet, not just a SharePoint intranet, walls kill collaboration and employee knowledge management. More salient, key lessons can be drawn from implementing and working with SharePoint: