The webinar was an "open to the public" event of the IBF SharePoint Special Interest Group (SIG) and it was timed to coincide with the release of a new IBF report on SharePoint 2010. The report was written by my good colleague Martin White of Intranet Focus Ltd, and myself and the other panelists, Michael Sampson and Richard Harbridge and varying degrees of input. It's an excellent report (IMHO) and you can purchase a copy from the IBF.
Michael posted his thoughts about the event on his blog much more promptly, finishing his article with this statement: "Don't get pushed into doing unnatural acts with SharePoint because Microsoft or your Business Partner thinks you should. It will take time ... and money ... and thought. Spend it now, or spend it repeatedly over the next few years."
Truly excellent advice that I agree with wholeheartedly ! However I want to return to a question which Martin does address in the report, but which was also asked by attendee's:
Where does SharePoint 2010 fit with my intranet ?
Well its a good question, but unfortunately there is no one size fits all standard answer (oh come on now, there never is !). The question has to be examined in context, and reflected upon by asking follow up questions about your current intranet, and what your aspirations for further development of your intranet are.
For a start, what is your organisations definition of 'intranet' ? I have tackled that question before in this posting: What is an intranet anyway?
There are various intranet maturity frameworks available, but this is a good one based on original Avenue A | Razorfish work from some years ago: The Intranet Maturity Framework - so where does your current intranet sit with respect to this framework ? And perhaps more to the point, where do you want to be ?
I ask this question because its a good way of mapping your requirements to SharePoint 2010 feature sets. So for example if your a:
- Stage 1 Communications & Information sharing intranet - then you probably need to be interested in SharePoints Sites features (the Web Content Management or "Publishing" features)
- Stage 3 Collaboration driven intranet - then your focus maybe on the 'communities' features, i.e. Team Sites and other collaboration features
- Stage 5 Digital Dashboards - if your at this stage then its all about the 'insights' features for you, maybe with a dash of 'composites' added too
This is what I mean by "it depends on your context" ! So we are back to what do you define as the intranet, and what do you want to do with it ? (See this excellent presentation on SlideShare by James Robertson of Step 2 Designs "The four purposes of an intranet" for some ideas!).
As I have said many times before on this blog, start with your requirements - this links to Michael's closing comment which I quoted above, don't let IT push you into using SharePoint 'Sites' WCM for your 'corporate intranet' layer just because SharePoint has been procured to fulfill the collaboration requirements, or the dashboard-ing requirements. One size does not fit all, and shoe horn-ing parts of your intranet into SharePoint "because we have it" is no recipe for success.
However to be pragmatic, SharePoint might meet 75% to 80% of your requirements, in other words it may be "good enough" even if its not perfect. You may find an integration with an existing WCMS, or a third party add on takes you up to the 90% to 100% mark !
So to summarize - "how does SharePoint fit with / fit into my intranet" - I don't know, nobody does actually. It's up to you to do your requirements analysis and then decide upon the fit based on research or the help of vendor neutral consultants.