I read this interesting article from a seasoned Sharepoint specialist on how the apps for SharePoint are changing the value of SharePoint from the user and customer perspective: http://www.sptechcon.com/news/the-new-age-of-sharepoint
For me, working in the business area of digital work and project management, we have definitely seen the value for our customers of the Apps ability on the Microsoft O365 platform with Sharepoint, Project Online, Yammer etc, to deliver increased insights into work, project and portfolio delivery.
There exists a breadth of apps from small innovative vendors all the way to full fledged add on solutions helping customers to sucessfully improver the value of their work and project deliveries.
So what is stopping customers from using these apps?
Blocker 1: IT dep app approvals:
It departments wants to ”approve” the apps first and then let the users use them.
Approach: It is new to use apps in many organisations and where BYOD and BYOA (Bring your own apps) has not yet been discussed or processes is not in place, things might take some time. Now, I think it is fair that a knowledgeable IT organisation is involved in securing App policies and use for the business. But when the same rigourous processes are put in place for small add ons as for full fledged ERP systems, something has gone wildly wrong….Or is it just IT protectivce behaviour in the light of a changing role for IT that soon will blew past?
Blocker 2: App store not activated/used
App stores not activated: In some organisations, there is clearly a lack of knowledge around how to activate and administrate apps in a practical way.
Approach: This is of course easily overcome by showing the power of Business Apps already available, saving many expensive internal and external consulting hours for more important stuff! We as partners (and Microsoft) needs to be more proactive and better on explaining and guiding our cutsomers into this new world.
Blocker 3: Customer configuration experince
Now, some customers are really loving the capabiliites when it comes to using built-in administrative and configuration possibilities in the Micorosft Online platform. Others don´t. For many customers it is still seen as waste to know how to create lists in SharePoint or how to collaborate on Projects in Project Online. At the same time they design elaborate Excel spreadsheets or Powerpoint reporting formats without hesitating a second to solve needs where these new tools would be of great assistance.
Approach: We should encourage the learning of our customers. They can configure Sharepoint! They can configure Project Online! If we believe in them, they will believe in themselves. And the good thing is that by sharing knowledge we learn things from each other!
Blocker 4: Old dogs like myself
As old-timers we need to understand that it is time to package up our knowledge into usable apps. And for our customers to start to request that we do so.
For us it has been a fantastic approach and investment in our customers to stop doing a lot of things that we have been required to do (manually) before.
Now we can focus on the value-adding aspect of our deliveries and add apps to replace and automate the tedious and repeatable work we have done 100s of times before…We can also make sure that the dev dollars needed can be more focused on what is really the unique features needed for each customer, thus creating a better value for these spendings.
Our customers can also be sure to start from a better position, inheriting a vaste amount of knowledge feeded into these apps on best practices, processes, useable reports or whatever is the imminent improver for the customers.
So, there is nothing to loose! Just get going with the apps for Sharepoint and Poject Online!