Every community has a lifecycle. I have been a part of numerous communities and tribes over the years. Certainly from the youth sports I participated in and also from a professional level with the Unix, Novell and Microsoft communities.
I’m still an active part of quite a few communities, including Social Media Club Seattle, Ignite Seattle and the IAMCP Seattle chapter. I’m not as active in some of the other communities anymore … partially because they don’t exist anymore. Partially because they have evolved and I have too.
No community stays the same forever. Communities evolve.
The SharePoint community is evolving too.
Community starts with Philanthropy
As I think most people know, or quickly figure out, you get out of a community what you put into it. The SharePoint community has been, and continues to be, one of the more gracious and giving communities I have ever been involved with. I look forward to hearing from and speaking with the people that make this community go and grow. There are far too many people here to name, but I can safely say I have had great conversations with hundreds of people at dozens of events.
Community is a Two Way Street
Everyone is giving up something … their time, their expertise, or even just their presence.
Some give a lot more. I personally have spoken at over 20 SharePoint Saturday events and have seen first hand the incredible work the organizers have done to pull off an event. I have also helped put on a few events too. So, I know the hard work and collaborative efforts (sometimes herculean efforts) that are required.
The organizers work closely with the speakers to ensure great content. The speakers come from all over the place … sometimes traveling thousands of miles … to speak at these events. And the attendees are giving up their time and often bringing tough questions that they face at work. Attendees are why we do it.
What can an Attendee do?
The simple answer is … A LOT! See Mark Rackley’s post on Your SharePoint Saturday Attendee Guide --- everything from a simple thank you to the speakers, sponsors and organizers to taking the time to provide feedback. Preferably constructive feedback.
Showing up is Critical
"We can't believe you are here!" this is what the people in Africa said to Paul Swider, Michael Noel, Joel Oleseon and the rest of the #STPAfrica tour. As they re-iterated their experience on stage at the SharePoint Africa re-cap session at the last SharePoint Conference. During a fantastic catered lunch session sponsored by Barry Jinks and his team at Colligo --- which, by the way, they underwrote the SP Africa Tour. We heard from the people that went out into the field (so to speak) and connected with the SharePoint community. This one happened to be in various cities across Africa. But, we continue to hear the same story over and over again and all over the world. People are very interested to learn more and do more with SharePoint.
The #STPAfrica team was literally MAKING COMMUNITIES as they go
As Martha Stewart would say … This is a VERY GOOD THING!
What is the Shape of the Future SharePoint Community?
What’s next for the SharePoint community? What can the community do to keep it going and keep it growing?
The big question to ask is: What is the future of the SharePoint Community?
I think it will involve a few factors. One thing that has happened that continues to be a very smart move is that the community operates independently from the Microsoft machine. Of course, SharePoint is a Microsoft product, but like the SAP ASUG community and the Oracle IOUG communities they have separated from the Mother Ship (pun intended).
Groups like Mark Miller’s Nothing But SharePoint have sprung up and continue to evolve. Events like SharePoint TechCon, the European SharePoint Conference, SHARE and countless other SharePoint oriented events continue to crop up. This is a very good thing.
Another thing that helps keep the SharePoint community strong are the people that are often called Rock Stars. Fortunately, there are a lot of them and they come from all over the place and have many different skill sets. Currently one skill set is (seemingly) valued much more than others, but I predict that will change. Especially as more hybrid solutions start to become a reality.
- Who are the next SharePoint Rock Stars?
- Of course, we’ll have Developers and Technical People (the Devs and Techies). They have always been at the forefront of SharePoint efforts.
- One Big Gap remains … We need more Business people. The people that understand the People, the Processes AND the Technologies (see below for my MVP recommendation)
- Before answering that … I think we need to know …
WHAT IS THE DEFINITION OF A ROCK STAR????
What is the end game for the SP community?
Only time will tell. I think the community has continued to adapt and evolve. I think if the community, and to some extent Microsoft, embraces some of the points made above the SharePoint community will have many more years to go.
Microsoft has done something great. They created a community of like minded experts that share what they know. There are 5000+ MVP’s today and about 400 of them are SharePoint MVP’s. That’s a big number. However, I think there is room for more. As mentioned above I think there needs to be a few more MVP’s added on the business side of the puzzle.
On the business side … there are a few today that are Rock Stars in their own right. They speak, write and generally evangelize the SharePoint product. I think there need to be more Business Focused MVP’s in order to drive the next wave of SharePoint innovation. Sure, there will need to be technically oriented MVP’s too --- they have always been there and have always pushed SharePoint to the edge … and oftentimes beyond the edge.
SharePoint also needs More Ambassadors
As I wrote about a while back … there are people in the SharePoint community that may not be the traditional SharePoint person. They may have come from Microsoft, they may have come from the ECM industry or any of the ancillary industries that ostensibly tie into the bigger picture of what SharePoint is and can be come. We need more Julie’s! We need more Ambassadors!
When you meet an ambassador … Embrace them. Welcome them. We need more of them.
Whether they are MVP’s or Ambassadors or some new term … The only way the SharePoint Community will continue to thrive is with more people that are committed to see it succeed and to continue on in what may potentially be a new path.
The End Game for SharePoint … like any other community will be determined by the people. Only the people can decide when a community needs to grow or go away. I have seen the SharePoint community grow from a very small grass roots effort over the past 10 years I have been involved with an incredible group of people that genuinely care and share what they know. I expect the community to continue to adapt and evolve and I expect to be a part of it for many years.
See you at the next event!
Communities matter. Communities happen. Communities evolve!
Jeff Shuey is a veteran in the Enterprise Content Management industry. Over the past 20 years he has worked with customers and partners to design, develop and deploy solutions around the world. Jeff is currently the Director of Strategic Alliances at Winshuttle. He has worked for Microsoft, FileNet, K2, Captaris, Open Text, Kofax and Kodak. He speaks and blogs about ECM and the Intersection between Social, Mobile and Cloud Computing.