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There’s an interesting article on SharePoint over at the Computerworld Web site:SharePoint challenges IT as the Excel, Access of the day.
The most interesting part to me is the is the unflattering comparison between the evolution of SharePoint and Lotus Notes usage in the enterprise: "Departmental users used those tools to build applications that collect and manage data because they couldn’t quickly get the projects onto IT’s development schedule." Yes, that is the basic point, isn’t it?
As technologies have evolved into true "end-user computing tools", IT just hasn’t kept up. Complex development lifecycles aren’t well-suited to small application programming projects. Those nasty users are just out there trying to get their work done, and if the IT Department won’t help, they will find a way to work around it. It doesn’t matter what tool you talk about, it can happen this way.
Do those end users always architect good solutions? No. Should they be using the latest ‘"hammer" to solve all of their technology needs? No. What they need form IT is often less about development help and more about just good sound advice. IT departments that aren’t enthusiastically getting into that advice business are going to be failing on many levels.
I truly do worry that SharePoint may become the next Lotus Notes. Both SharePoint and Lotus Notes (which I used in the past and actually liked) put tremendous power in the hands of "end users". (Maybe we should stop using the term "end users". These days, everyone uses computers, and almost everyone dabbles in some sort of "development".) Part of my mission as a SharePoint evangelist (read: enthusiast, junkie…) is to make sure that doesn’t happen.