Simon Hudson's avatar

Author: Simon Hudson
Simon is one of the founding directors at Cloud2

I’m a recovering SharePoint addict

Hello, I'm Simon and I have a problem. 10 years ago, I fell in with a bad crowd and started doing SharePoint.

I thought I was in control. Just a little session here and there; a quick hit of site creation or an hour or so wrapped around list and library configuration. It was just a little buzz, pleasant but nothing to get excited about. But these things tend to get out of hand; before I knew it, I was linking web parts, building information architectures and worse. I liked it, I wanted more.

I’m rather afraid that I began to get others hooked too, introducing them to the rush of building a solution to a business need without writing code or even asking IT. Sometimes we would even hang out together, getting a group.

It started intruding into my day job, sneaking in via that oh so seductive Connect to Outlook button. I admit that I favourited it in Windows Explorer as well as in my browser so I could get to it even more quickly. I even had it on my phone.

Of course, it had started even before Cloud hit the street. About 9 years ago I had already acquired a serious habit; I even quit my proper job to spend all my time with SharePoint. That year was tough; I had dragged my friend, Taran, down with me and we spent every day, 7 days a week, for a year, lost in the murky world of metadata, site template design, business processes modelling, more information architecture. It was all consuming. We persuaded others to try it, gathering people to us to share the experience. After a while we even rented a den in the centre of Bradford where were could cluster together over the cold and uncaring code. Our dealer, Microsoft, hooked us on a new cut in 2010 and we fell into that completely. 2013 brought a new high. And after that there was a new name on the street, ‘Cloud’ and it was extremely dangerous. You could get your hit almost immediately; it was so accessible, it was so easy. No sneaking around IT departments asking for a ‘connection’ who could get me or my new friends what we needed. With a little care and planning we could go straight to the source. It was cheap too, unless you needed to buy it in bulk.

As we learned more and experimented we learned our own way to package the stuff. We became a major dealer. Our package made it more addictive and much, much easier for new punters to get; instead of a gradual addiction over 6 months or more our “clients” started to get there in 12 weeks, then 8. We stopped short of trying to sell it on street corners, but people started coming to us, referred to their network or word-of-mouth.

Then something odd happened. The cravings changed. Instead of being immersed in a browser wrapped SharePoint haze each and every day, I found myself weaned off it a little. It was still there in the background, but now it sat below what else I was doing. I would make a note, and SharePoint would be there to looking after my notebook, giving me a little buzz of excitement; I would write a document and SharePoint would look after it and even let my addiction buddies write in it at the same time, another buzz; I would check my calendar and there would be SharePoint. It seems like everything I do to get through the day had SharePoint to ease the pain or add to the pleasure. Of course, I still get my proper fix every now and then, but it’s not as often now that SharePoint has become systemic; it’s more like an IV drip than a major hit, and I’m pretty sure that’s a good thing. Clearly worried that users, like me, might be building up a tolerance, our main dealer started introducing extras. Little things at first, like a very mild version the kids on the block call OneDrive (“it’s the business” or something); definitely a gateway experience. Then wilder trips on ‘Delve’. For a while it looked like good old ‘SP’ might be about to disappear; some of the folk at our supplier thought it was a too sophisticated experience for most users, too hard. Those of us who understood, who truly knew it, despaired and protested. And not in vain, for the top man, Mr T, heard our pleas. For those that wanted something softer he let his formulation guys bring ‘Groups’ and ‘Teams’ to the street. Those are very similar, I know, I tried them; good but without the kick or the subtlety of my favoured tool, but great for a quick fix and, so it seems, excellent for parties and unexpected get togethers. Still more ‘experiences’ followed, with esoteric names like ‘Flow’ and ‘PowerApps’; often a little raw, but definitely aiming to fill an important space. ‘Power BI’ wasn’t what many of us expected, but it was good and got much better as they tweaked the recipe. It was soon displacing the similar ‘products’ from our dealers competitors; being a cheaper fix than ‘Tableau’ and far more addictive than ‘Qlikview’.

So, things have changed. I’m definitely not over it, but I am more able to live day-to-day. I started reaching out to others struggling with the same addiction, getting them to move beyond the raw early phase and into the much gentler, refined and understanding territory beyond. We are still hooked, but the addiction and the cravings are under control. You might even say that is a good thing; the obsessive tendencies have mostly gone, the compulsive needs are manageable and the background buzz as business gets done, information gets shared, documents get managed and activities get completed, is a pleasure not a concern.

I’m a recovering SharePoint addict, but I won’t be over it any time soon.

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