It's January, and that means the time is now to throw out some predictions for the year in technology. This is something that never gets old to me; a fresh slate and a huge opportunity to not only lay the groundwork for the coming year, but also throw in some thoughts on what changes may be in our midst. In my opinion, Microsoft has continued to support each of its products incredibly well, which is a difficult task given the push towards their mandate of a cloud first, mobile first world. While people are focused on making their lists for the new year, I want to start with something small, but impactful for those looking at building adoption and user interest.
One of the biggest change components of 2015 and the SharePoint space is nomenclature. If you've heard me speak, you know I always talk about the need for a standard language across the organization. Moreover, I talk about creating a journey that makes sense for your organization, something which can be achieved by the business overall. The oddity here is that there are so many different pieces, components and slices of SharePoint today. I am often asked how a client should proceed down a journey with so many moving pieces in the SharePoint mix. These include OneDrive, Yammer, Office 365, SharePoint (both hybrid and on-premises) and more. This leads me to a suggestion I made last week for someone who asked about the importance of naming their SharePoint environment for their organization.
One of the first rules of SharePoint is, in fact, to not call it SharePoint. Yes, the Fight Club references are abundant here for you movie buffs. Calling SharePoint by its given name is similar to calling your car, well, "car." Most people don't do that. They refer to it by its model name, or a short form thereof. In some cases, people go so far as to name their car; I still remember a white car I had back in the day that friends of mine lovingly referred to as "the duchess." The reason we name cars and other items in our lives is because it’s a sign of ownership, pride and in some cases, connection. My suggestion to organizations is that they should name SharePoint for the same reasons, in order to create a sense of ownership and connection for its employees. An organization who brands SharePoint as (insert fancy acronym or saying here) instantly creates a connection between the product and employees. This is an important step in the adoption cycle and can also be seen as a training aide. Product ownership is far greater if you can say, "hey, can you grab that document off XYZNet."
My suggestion is always for companies to hold a contest between staff in order to name SharePoint. Send an e-mail to your staff; get them excited about the new environment and let them get involved. I remember the buzz created back in the late 80s when Toronto held a contest to name the new baseball stadium. There were a number of times the contest took over the dinner table conversation and the media loved it. People get very passionate about their involvement in something that will "last forever" and that is the excitement you want to build in your organization. Hold the contest open for a few weeks; you can even go so far as to let your teams vote on the name they prefer. You may not get the same media coverage as the SkyDome, but communicating the new name is critically important. Be sure to provide a prize to your winner, and honorable mentions for the runners up.
Once your environment is online, or rebranded in the event you changed the product name once SharePoint was in use, the difficult task is ensuring your users don't fall back to the old name. This is very important, as it shows a commitment (or lack thereof) to the product and its functionality. Make sure that the new name and brand is referred to properly in meetings and in communications that go out to staff. If you see the use slipping, the likelihood is that it can be sourced back to some level of dissatisfaction, so check with your teams if you see this happening. Find out what the issue may be and work to get everyone back in line with your naming convention.