Happy 2013! With SharePoint 2013 about to go into wide release, I thought it was a good time to put out some key predictions for the coming year:

  • At least 40% of enterprises that deploy SharePoint 2013 will make social a key feature
  • Over 10% of SharePoint users will connect to a cloud version of SharePoint in 2013. Cloud adoption of Office 365 will approach 25% of new 2013 implementations.
  • The new app model, with cloud support, will drive even more customization work by non-traditional developers.
  • The app marketplace will be slow to evolve, and will primarily benefit individual information consumers, not enterprises.
  • Quest conference surveys have always shown far greater user satisfaction with document-based collaboration (60.7% average) than with SharePoint’s newer workloads (20.2%). This gap will narrow in 2013, in part due to the app and social improvements noted above.

Social

I think 2013 is the year we finally see SharePoint social entrenched in the enterprise. Back in 2007, when I met with different enterprises faced with SharePoint My Sites, the questions tended to sound like “I heard SharePoint has social functions – how can I hide them so no one ever uses them.” In my role at Dell Software, speaking at user groups and conferences, I’ve learned that usage of SharePoint social still lags behind other core functions – only about 20-30% of enterprises make much headway according to our surveys.

SharePoint’s been “social” for years. But it’s taken a special mix of culture, use cases, willingness and third party tools to make it truly compelling for the enterprise. But I think in 2013, Microsoft has gotten social right. The combination of newsfeeds, community sites, tags and targets, mixed with preexisting personal sites, profiles and microblogs is all “in the box”. Organizations can finally craft a compelling social collaboration experience for their users without custom code or third party tools. This puts social “in reach” for many more enterprises.

So I’m expecting to see at least 40-50% of organizations that use SharePoint 2013 make social a centerpiece of their deployment. And that number will only rise as Microsoft adds the ability to use Yammer to extend social collaboration across the cloud.

Apps, Apps Everywhere – SharePoint for the People

Microsoft’s made a huge investment in a new application model – with a cloud friendly API and an online Marketplace for buying and installing SharePoint apps. In the long run, the API will open up integration for non-SharePoint – even non-Microsoft -- applications that live elsewhere in the data center and the cloud. This cleaner architecture virtually eliminates each application’s on-server footprint. Combined with the new online marketplace, this is going to open up more application installations than before to more users – especially business information workers with credit cards but little skill in server administration.

But the complexities of learning the new development model mean that most new apps in 2013 will be end-user, “business consumer” apps, developed by ISVs and purchased for less than $20 apiece. Enterprise apps will not move forward appreciably until later in the year.

Continuing Evolution of Cloud

Several years ago, a common strategic questions for consultants was “why should we move the cloud?” Now, the question is usually “when?”

Analysts continue to point to a 40% growth rate in Office 365 usage. That’s huge - but with on premises SharePoint closing in on 200 million users, and growing at 20-30%, it will be a while before cloud usage predominates.

Office 365 has always been a great choice for new, “green fields” SharePoint usage – largely because those buyer don’ts have a history with custom code or business intelligence that don’t fit the Office 365 model. In general, today’s single digit cloud usage will climb past 10% in 2013 as Office 365 absorbs more users. Hybrid deployments (part cloud, part on premises) will continue to dominate throughout the year, but there will be some interesting and significant (large) pure cloud deployments.

Custom cloud hosters, such as Rackspace, Amazon and FPWeb – even Dell – will cater to highly specialized needs like custom security or integrated business intelligence. But over 80% of SharePoint users will remain connected to on premises data centers in 2013.

Social, cloud, and apps – it’s going to be quite a year for SharePoint.