Tipping Point? Structured Business Apps vs. Unstructured Collaboration

There must be something in the air.  Yes, fall is here, but, there is more.  Over the last couple of months, I have had a surge of customers and prospects that have come to me and said that they want a structured business application environment on SharePoint.  The volume and intensity mark a change.  Is it a tipping point?  Let’s talk about it.

CorasWorks has been pushing the idea of business apps on SharePoint from the beginning in 2003.  It was perhaps a bit radical back then.  It isn’t that there is anything wrong with unstructured collaboration and our software certainly supports it.  It is just that ultimately we see the real business value of SharePoint as structured business apps in a web-based work environment with a layer of unstructured collaboration to support the work.  This is our real workplace vision for real business value.

But honestly, over the last 6 years, we’ve simply not had the volume or intensity of people that come to us and tell us that what they really want is a structured work environment of business apps on SharePoint.  Particularly, from our customers.  It is as if a light just went off and our customers are now strongly asking for what we thought we have been selling and supporting for years.

I can’t say that I fully understand why this is.  But, here is my gut take which is why I am writing this article. 

Over the last 6 months, we have released an entire new software platform (v10.x) to support app management, customization and integration, we have created the online CorasWorks Community, we have built out the App Store, we and our third-party publishers have released a slew of very functional, well documented, plug and play apps, and, we released the AppEngine as a low cost runtime environment for apps.  We did all of these things to invert the model of getting to value on SharePoint – we put immediate business value first in the form of plug and play structured business apps that deliver right away.

What its really done is act as a lightning rod for latent demand.  At the same time we’ve been hearing about the iPhone and 1 or 2 billion downloaded apps, and with the economy there is just a lot more talk and thinking about real business value.

Our customers are downloading and using the apps and others are seeing what we mean when we say business value in minutes.  In effect, our customers and the market are beginning to believe that the story is now a reality.  As such, they are coming to us and saying “Okay, now you proved that it is possible and practical – let me tell you what I really want….”

You might say that I smell a tipping point, for CorasWorks, our customers, and, the SharePoint community.  When it tips, customers will simply expect that they can have plug and play business value, with low cost apps, as part of a standardized environment.  All of the sudden the SharePoint community will rise out of the muck of infrastructure, bits and bytes, knobs and switches, custom code, even collaboration and document file shares, etc. and be talking apps, business value, productivity, and process.

There will always be room for collaboration – it is good.  But, I think that in our space business apps will ultimately drive the web-based workplace with collaboration playing a supporting role.  So, speak up and tell me what you are thinking?

Oh, and I love the smell of fall,

william

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