June 6, 2012

Hey Microsoft! Why Not Merge Outlook with SharePoint?

It’s perhaps fair to say a majority of Microsoft Outlook email users might utilize the following adage if pressed into a decision:

“I’ll give you my email when you pry it from my cold, dead hands!”

People sure do love their email.

The Radicati Group recently published findings suggesting in 2012, Microsoft Exchange (the back-end system that delivers the actual email to the Microsoft Outlook client) holds 53% market share of all enterprise email systems (powered by the Outlook client) yet by 2016 this will jump to 68% market share.

This naturally got me thinking.

It got me thinking because the conundrum with email is that its user driven in a one-to-one or a one-to-many flow. It’s not exactly collaboration, rather, its piecemealed, jagged communication.

JP Rangaswami over at Confused of Calcutta had a rather brilliant observation recently in a post entitled, “On Collaboration“, where he stated:

E-mail has been the bane of collaboration, an unfit-for-purpose tool that has often been used to accentuate and enhance division and discord rather than collaboration. Yet for most people it is the standard tool of collaboration. This may have been so to begin with: a time when e-mails were short, when formality was conspicuous in its absence, when mail lists did not exist, when the cc and bc buttons didn’t exist, when there were no attachments. The first problem with e-mail is that it’s publisher-driven, the power is in the hands of the sender.

For those enterprise clients and organizations who continue to use Exchange and Outlook, it begs the question … why isn’t SharePoint becoming part of both the back-end and the front-end?

Why not merge communication with collaboration?

Why does Microsoft continue to build SharePoint separate from Outlook and Exchange?

Oh sure, you can synchronize content between SharePoint and Outlook, but that’s not what I’m after.

I’d like to see communication become collaboration, and given the fact so many people are unwilling to give up their email, why not rebuild Outlook and Exchange such that it became a true collaborative platform (with all the social enterprise bells and whistles imaginable) and less about communication. (ok, it can keep email)

Perhaps what I’m suggesting is to deprecate SharePoint in favour of a singular communication AND collaboration platform from Microsoft. Call it OutShare or ShareLook. I don’t care.

Peeks, inline replies and a weather bar (allegedly features in Outlook 15) exacerbates my point.

For those in Redmond, if you’re reading this, surely the SharePoint and Outlook/Exchange teams can work ‘collaboratively’ together to align forces and create a stunning singular product that incorporates this line of thinking.

Maybe it’s in the cards for version 16?

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