Connecting and Optimizing SharePoint

AIIM Survey

The AIIM Industry Watch Survey titled, “Connecting and Optimizing SharePoint – Important Strategy Choices” was recently released. It surveyed 422 AIIM members about their adoption of SharePoint. The stats and key findings reported by AIIM correlate with our research. There is a need and want within organizations to enhance SharePoint further to become a true search-driven intranet portal.


The Lack of Classification

AIIM reports that currently only 7% of those surveyed currently have automated or assisted classification, but that within the next 12-18 months 28% of respondents plan to implement a solution. Yes, creating metadata can be challenging and maintaining it can be just as difficult. In order to meet today’s information challenges, it’s important that metadata must be:

  • customizable in order to meet organizational requirements
  • precise in order to eliminate false positives
  • standardized and comprehensive across all subsets of information
  • automatically and immediately applied with manual update capabilities
  • utilized to enrich the end user search experience

Many organizations are currently or planning to turn to a third-party solution that can help them clean up and automate tagging for older documents in their systems. If you want to learn more about the importance of consistent, quality metadata and how BA Insight’s AutoClassifier can create metadata and improve findability, download our Whitepaper.

Turning SharePoint into a True Portal with Connectors

As the report highlights “From its intranet days, SharePoint was always intended to provide an access portal to content residing on other systems, and it supports APIs and CMIS in order to do this. Along with that goes search. Here the history was a little more chequered until the 2013 release, which consolidated (most of) the FAST features as standard. Leaving aside for now the actual degree of connectedness, 15% consider SharePoint to be their primary search and access portal across multiple repositories, but a sizable 44% have this as strategic objective.

This is something we see come up often in our discussions with prospects and customers. Connecting to and accessing information from SharePoint almost always brings up security concerns. Especially when an organization is looking to build their own connectors. There are some questions to consider when thinking about buying vs building connectors, including:

  • How is security applied?
  • Will the indexing connectors work with unstructured content?
  • Are your security changes detectable?
  • How are users and groups managed?
  • Will content be made complete through high throughput?

BA Insight’s Director of Product Development, Tony Malandain recently put together a short video on this topic.

As mentioned earlier, another surprising statistic from the report is that currently only 15% of people use SharePoint as their search and access portal but 44% do plan on making the move in the future. Aligning governance, security and metadata were the main concerns about turning SharePoint into a search and access portal. Indexing connectors are harder than they may seem. They require a balance of high performance and light touch, rigorous security and easy administration across a wide range of sophisticated source systems.

We’ve done a lot of research about securely indexing both full text and metadata from source systems into SharePoint’s search engine, enabling a single searchable result set across content from multiple repositories.

On-Prem vs The Cloud

It’s no secret that Microsoft has been encouraging users to move to SharePoint Online. However, as the AIIM report makes note, only 20% of people surveyed plan to put everything in the cloud as opposed to adopting a hybrid strategy.

You do have the ability to install and use an out-of-the-box hybrid model, but it isn’t easy and typically results in a non-friendly user experience. In addition to the complexity involved in using an OOB hybrid model, there is the positive effect of turning to a solution like BA Insight which can:

  • Integrate content from outside of SharePoint using a unified index
  • Automatically created metadata applied consistently across farms drives findability and exploration
  • Create portals with pre-built user experience components which makes for responsive IT and happy end-users

If you are interested in learning more about Hybrid SharePoint, CTO Jeff Fried recently hosted a webinar series on this very topic, Succeeding with Hybrid SharePoint Part One and Part Two.

In Conclusion

Organizations looking to make the most of SharePoint need to have a clear plan in place and they need to commit to that plan. With the report stating that nearly two-thirds of those surveyed have a stalled SharePoint project or that SharePoint is not meeting their original expectations, it’s clear that a strong plan and the resources to back that plan up, are needed.

To download your own copy of the AIIM report, please visit their website.

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