The headline of this article is from a statement by European SharePoint expert Bjorn Furuknap, who anecdotally posited on Facebook that he’s seeing a diminution of skills among those who call themselves SharePoint experts.
He claims that the depth and sophistication of understanding around the platform is not what it was even a few years ago, which he said is a result of SharePoint fracturing Office 365 into pieces, and those with high levels of skill transferring to other platforms they feel will remain more stable.
In a Facebook chat with SharePoint MVP Paul Culmsee and me, Bjorn wrote: “There may be causation here: Because SharePoint 2013 is a huge disappointment (and required splitting an already split community), people invest less time in learning. For those already good, there really isn’t anything new unless you want to start from scratch with the app model, in which case you’d be much better off starting from scratch on a better platform.”
Culmsee said part of the reason that professionals are looking at other platforms is that SharePoint has achieved a degree of maturity and is no longer the hot new technology, which is where many consultants need to be. Folks working on a mature platform tend to need less training and education than those looking to start on a new platform.
In my opinion, what has matured is the way organizations look at SharePoint. First brought in as a document share, organizations are finding enormous business value through workflows, BI, group sites and social, and these businesses are looking to leverage their investments in SharePoint even further.
What is not mature, though, is the software itself. It’s as if companies are looking to remain standing with SharePoint even as the ground beneath them roils and shifts. There’s a new app development model, new tools for BI, a new social paradigm, and new ways to do data integration. SharePoint Designer was introduced, broken out into its own tool and then abandoned. The famous SharePoint “wheel”—the very foundation of SharePoint—has changed at least three times in five years. And now it’s all about the cloud and mobile; SharePoint Server on-premises is little more than an afterthought at Microsoft these days.
This not only leaves organizations nervous about their investments, it leaves professionals wondering how long SharePoint itself will be around. As Culmsee pointed out, “Maturity in SharePoint develops a maturity in IT strategy, information architecture and user engagement. Those skills are highly desirable and transferrable to other platforms.”
From where I stand, there is a strong base of SharePoint experts who are tremendously knowledgeable about SharePoint, and are learning about Office 365 and even technologies not specific to Microsoft, such as jQuery, HTML5, cloud and more. I don’t see them moving away from SharePoint so much as bringing new skills to the platform, and those using it.
It is not SharePoint skills that are diminishing; it’s SharePoint itself. Microsoft has all but forgotten SharePoint’s name. But as it’s scrapped for parts and built into an ever-expanding cloud platform, more skills will be required for companies to get all the value they can out of their investment. And professionals who have mastered those skills will continue to be in great demand.