Wiki Wednesday yesterday was the first I have attended for about 9 months, I think, not least because they were put on ice for a while. Hosted jointly by the BCS North London Branch and Bearingpoint, the initial theme or hook was “Microsoft SharePoint as social media platform - Any chance to fight your IT department when they suggest it?”. This was a topic I did not want to miss, particularly as I shall be attending a one day seminar by TFPL later this month, which will be taking somewhat the opposing view.
David Terrar, organiser of London Wiki Wednesdays, had framed the proposal, and whilst he has his own competing product called Wordframe, I believe he's genuine in his desire to highlight the comparative benefits of not only his own product but of others of similar ilk.
A number of audience members who had had experience of Sharepoint implementations in their own organisations offered their views. There seemed to me to be a consensus that Sharepoint is touted by Microsoft as both 'free' and 'out-of-the-box', but isn't really either of those things. Firstly, a MOSS licence isn't free, and unless you upgrade to MOSS from entry-level Sharepoint you basically only have a document management system and miss out on Web 2.0 tools such as wikis and blogs. It needs a lot of customisation, which can take many man-hours of IT people's time. Someone described it as a toolset rather than a product for end-users. As (I think it was) Andreas Rindler argued, no product will be suitable for deployment in many organisations without any customisation. But with Sharepoint it is not possible for an end-user, for example, simply to add widgets by selecting from a tick-list, as they (allegedly) can with other products.
I must suspend my suspicion that this is all a typical Microsoft lock-in strategy, along the lines of "nobody ever got fired for choosing IBM, no wait, Microsoft", thus giving an easy choice to the IT procurement people, then nice employment for their folk, etc. I must also stop thinking that Sharepoint is a mediocre product, since I haven't touched it for 2 years. I'm looking forward to the TFPL day so I can hear the other side of the story.
For a write up of the rest of the 1st Oct Wiki Wednesday (and there was more good stuff), see here