SharePoint vs iPad vs Toyota, step in-the-box for Success

SharePoint , iPad and an auto industry comparison???  Now, this should be good, double helping of Apple or Microsoft Kool-Aid , or mixing the two, and driving while at it?  Seriously, there is a connection and that connection will help you in your SharePoint implementation.

I recently purchased an iPad and I have to say I really like the appliance.  It does for me exactly what I wanted to do with it.  I can easily surf the web, check my mail, look up a recipe, play an occasional game, and run some light business apps  like to-do lists, password manager, etc.  The large screen makes it very easy to use, it has instant on and it’s much easier to use than a net book. I also have a net book but I find I rarely use it around the house because of the complexity booting and logging in, and I originally purchased it for the reasons I use an iPad.

When I show the iPad to my friends and colleagues it gets two distinct reactions.  “Wow”, “neat”, “easy to use”, “fast”, or “what a piece of crap”, “it does not multitask”, “no real key board”, “it’s a toy”.

Search the Internet for why the iPad sucks, or why the iPad is great and you’ll get a list of similar reasons, I don’t need to repeat them here.

When I show people the application of SharePoint most people are impressed and can see immediately how they can use the application. “Lists and libraries will save a ton of email attachments”, “version control will reduce headaches”, “lists will manage projects”, “workflow will reduce mundane work from the project manager”, and “it will make office life easier.” I also get, “it looks like a Microsoft product”, “too difficult to customize”, “too complex to setup”, and “not enough flexibility”.

What are the common connections?  In both cases I realized the group putting down the appliance and application are hardcore techies. Does that mean that we should not listen to the techies when it comes to the iPad and SharePoint? Absolutely not, however, their mind is focused on the technology of the product and less on the application of the product. I totally agree with most of their assessments. However, I also agree on the design decisions on the iPad and SharePoint; for example, limited multitasking to save battery life, and web page customization via web parts for ease and speed. Both have their pros and cons.

So who should you listen to when deciding on an application? The answer depends on how the application will be used in the organization and what the application will do for you.  The techies will always tell you it’s not 100%, but rarely do we need 100%; 80% is good enough for most and we all know the last 20% is the most expensive.

So where does Toyota fit into this?  The last two recalls I read about from Toyota, the accelerator and stability control problem were both fixed mostly through software tweaks.  Software in the car was changed to reduce the engine to idle if the accelerator and brake are pressed simultaneously. And, for stability, the brakes respond quicker if the car is turning too fast around a corner to increase stability.

If we take the techies approach, I am sure we can tweak the software in the car to get more performance; we can also get better brakes, better tires and lights.

That approach may be necessary for some, but not the masses. And, I am not sure I want to mess with my ride that I depend on.

What is your business application of SharePoint? Will SharePoint meet your needs? Does it meet most of your needs?  Listen to techies, but also listen to your users and then decide.

Gord Maric

SharePoint  and Business Intelligence Consultant

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