Why Office 365 Adoption Is Sluggish
A business associate of mine, who happens to live in the Microsoft ecosystem, was recently explaining the phenomenon of version lock—Microsoft customers, en masse are reluctant to move from legacy, on-premises versions of SharePoint and Office to Office 365. And one of the big reasons is custom workflows. Many such Microsoft customers have built (or paid a Microsoft channel partner to build) hundreds—even thousands—of custom workflows on SharePoint, which workflows, in many cases, will need to be refitted to a newer version of SharePoint, should one be adopted. It could be a huge undertaking, and any Microsoft customer that has been through the process once may be extremely reluctant to do it again. Hence, lots of existing Microsoft customers are locked into their present versions of SharePoint/Office. Exacerbating the problem is the fact that some large organizations are running multiple SharePoint farms of differing versions.
Could Channel Partners Be the Problem?
What I found most interesting about this conversation was my associate’s view of the problem, which he attributed, at least, in part, to Microsoft’s own Channel Partners, many of whom, rather than propose a comprehensive, future-proof solution, continue to sell customers the same old tired approach—rebuild workflows on the next version of SharePoint using Microsoft’s native platforms (WWF/WM 1.0) or a some product that extends Microsoft’s native workflow capability. Either way, you get the same result—instant legacy, technical debt, products that without question will need to be rebuilt over and again as SharePoint continues to evolve.
So why would any self respecting Microsoft Channel Partner steer customers in this direction? The simple answer is because it’s how they make their money. Put another way, for a customer to upgrade, say, a SharePoint 2010 farm to align with its other 2013 farms, it will need to have its service organization refit a bunch of workflows.
Low Code Offers a Future-Proof Forms and Workflow Solution
There is, of course, a better way, and I suspect lots of these incumbent Microsoft Channel Partners are aware of it. Instead of planning for their own financial future by steering their customers down the technical debt path, they could, instead, adopt a state-of-the-art low code platform that utilizes a standalone process engine and which is SharePoint version agnostic.
AgilePoint NX, for example, one of the highest rated low-code process platforms in Forrester’s low-code Wave report 2016, represents a final forms and workflow solution for Microsoft customers. In other words, all of a customer’s workflows—no matter which version of SharePoint they were built on—could be ported to AgilePoint NX. Once this process was complete, these workflows could run with any version of SharePoint/Office 365. Furthermore, because of the way AgilePoint NX is architected, these workflows would continue to work, regardless of future SharePoint changes.