Clearing off the desk after a busy 2012 writing about SharePoint, I came across a survey of SharePoint users, seeking to learn about the content they use, how important it is to be able to share that content in social tools, and more. The survey was sponsored by Vizit, and was answered by more than 1,100 SharePoint professionals.

One particular data point jumped out at me as I reviewed the document. That is, 39% of respondents said that less than 25% of the content in their SharePoint implementation is being actively used. Vizit defines “actively used” as being opened, viewed or edited.

This, to me, is not a problem of not having the right social tools to share the content, nor of not being able to find it once it’s there. To me, this says two things: One, that governance is weak; organizations still do not have a firm grip on why they are saving documents to SharePoint. And two, organizations still do not have the kind of widespread uptake and adoption of SharePoint among their workers as they should have for the investment they’ve made in the software.

To the first point, many organizations make the decision to run SharePoint and immediately move a lot of things into it: schedules, forms, handbook-type material, old memos and pretty much anything else they see lying around. Then, they are forgotten about. The lack of governance over what to save, where to save it, and for how long, creates a cluttered deployment of content workers don’t care about. And that leads directly to the second point: If SharePoint is storing things workers don’t need, then ultimately workers will decide they don’t need SharePoint. Thus, the initial excitement about collaborating over open documents remotely, and the elimination of versioning issues created by e-mails, fades away, and those benefits are lost.

Without rules governing the storing of content, SharePoint is no better than that big file cabinet at the end of the hall that has each employee’s resume and job application in it. You know, the cabinet that no one ever opens anymore.