In my last posting from the SharePoint Conference 2011, I described how conference that occur during the years between releases have a different flavor to them. One topic that is always in style is business alignment and planning. My presentation provided some inspiration and caveats for SharePoint planning derived from a city planning metaphor (SPC290 for those with access to the conference website).
What I still didn’t see at this conference was much business focus at all, either in terms of presentations for IT folks learning how to align with business needs or for non-IT folks to learn about the benefits of improvements to tacit collaboration, content, and social processes. For a few years, IBM ran a separate WebSphere Portal conference for the business side and executives. It was obviously smaller, more intimate, a nicer hotel (!), and 100% geek-free. At this conference they even gave me a free T-shirt that said “GEEK” for speaking. (Note: The T-shirt is great and my wife loves it, although I’m not allowed to wear it to any dinner parties.)
SharePoint is doing great and has an enthusiastic support base. But if Microsoft and the SharePoint community really want to change the world, they need to get business more engaged. I’d love to see a separate event – just as a trial balloon – that is business focused with lots of peer networking, roundtable, and panel opportunities. Until there is a decent attempt to work with the business, SharePoint may be a nice tool and a good piece of infrastructure that gets applied wherever its evangelism catches on, but not a product that is embedded in the most important business processes.