With all the talk about how Microsoft will bundle Yammer with SharePoint and deploy it on 4.6 gazillion Surface ™ tablets and all 42 Windows phones, it seems we are near the end of the “sliced bread” era. “The best thing since sliced bread…” “the best thing since bottled beer…”nah, get ready for “the best thing since Microsoft bought Yammer!” I don’t know, it doesn’t flow as well. In any case, while Microsoft and every oddball blogger and pundit are staking out their positions and marking their territory, I’m going to call attention to something that is here today, working today and not often mentioned – email-enabled lists and libraries. How’s that for a letdown?
Seriously, I think that the ability to put stuff into a SharePoint list or library, from outside the firewall, by simply attaching it to an email is an awesome feature of SharePoint. The problem is that when I suggest it to my users, they act as if the feature was just released as part of the Yammer deal. Even when I mention it to other SharePoint practitioners, the response is often “oh, yeah, I forgot about that…” I think this is one of the trees that Microsoft loses track of in the forest. Yeah, I know, I have that expression backwards, but sometimes we should focus on the details at the expense of the big picture. SharePoint has a lot of details that are really useful when you’re trying to slog through the mundane parts of your day a.k.a. “do you job”.
For all of the talk about social, mobile and local, we seem to lose sight of the fact that a lot of our customers (my end users are my customers) are out there trying to process transactions, produce reports and file stuff. I know those tasks aren’t sexy, they aren’t cutting edge and nobody is buying transaction processing start-ups for billions of dollars, but those are the things that generate the money that pays for the new initiatives. Email-enabled libraries, Views, Web Parts, Permissions, and a host of other really basic features that SharePoint implements really well, represent the foundation of our success with this product. Just in case Microsoft forgets that in the next few months, you can count on me to remind you of them on occasion.
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