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Will the real SharePoint Influencers please stand up?

Last week, an initial field of one-hundred was published by Scratch Media for’s “Top 25 SharePoint Influencers”.  Since my team and I are regularly asked to consult with some of the world’s most successful organizations on the what, why and how of their SharePoint use, I thought it might be fun to share my own personal list of SharePoint Influencers and compare the two.
audienceWho influences me?  Who does my team read in our spare time?  What kind of publications impact the advice we give our clients?
I guess it all depends on how you define “influence”.  It doesn’t take a data scientist to realize that the Scratch Media definition looks to be heavily dependent on social media statistics (specifically Twitter).  But to me, someone with meaningful “influence” in SharePoint is someone whose opinions—through some assortment of published content, speaking engagements, organizational ties and/or product development—can (and occasionally do) serve as an impetus for the evolution of the product and how it is perceived.
These are the people I look to when I’m figuring out where SharePoint might (or should) go next.  These are people who know more than I do on various topics, and are always worth listening to—people who create and publish actual, meaningful content that can influence how you, I, and anyone else can think about and position SharePoint.
These are people who think, and that’s why I read/listen to them.  These, in my mind, are my favorite thought leaders in the SharePoint world.  I divide them up into four categories:

  • Behind the Curtain (Microsoft)
  • The Extended Family (ISV Partners and Other Smart People)
  • The Fourth Estate (Analysts)
  • The Godfather

We all benefit from these people and their engagement in public discourse.  Some of them make the Scratch Media / list.  Others do not.  Again, this is a purely subjective list, but it’s not a media stunt, and you won’t get a prize at our Perficient booth during SharePoint Conference for mentioning it.  You might get a name or three worth following or listening to, though—and if that proves helpful to anyone reading, I’ve done my job for the day.
Behind the Curtain (Microsoft)
Sure, this one is kind of self-explanatory, but while every SharePoint product manager and development lead at Microsoft is definitely worth hearing out, there are certain names that should catch your attention every time.  When an announcement comes from Jeff Teper or Jared Spataro, of course, it’s an announcement you should listen to.  If Bill Baer is giving a demo or writing a blog entry, it’s probably a technology with a ton of upside and something to embrace.  Christophe Fiessinger deftly rides herd over the SharePoint/Yammer workstream and where Social is going, while I learned more about SharePoint in a day with Richard Riley and his old team back in 2010 than I have in the four years since.  There are others, to be sure, but if I had to pick five Softies I’m always listening to, it’d be these five.
The Extended Family (ISV Partners and Other Smart People)
One of the benefits of being a leading partner is sitting on the Partner Advisory Board and getting to know people like Jeremy Thake, who not only represents AvePoint and all of the outstanding extensions they make to the SharePoint platform, but clearly thinks a lot about where SharePoint should go next.  Similarly, Christian Buckley at Metalogix (formerly Axceler) always provides sound insight over at but doesn’t limit his writing or his thinking to products.  Chris Johnson at Provoke Solutions is a former SharePoint PM at Microsoft who might speak quietly but is worth bending an ear to listen to.  What separates these three from the usual suspects, for me, is that they clearly take a strategic view of where this platform can go and how it might get there.
The Fourth Estate (Analysts)
I really don’t understand how anyone can compose a list of “SharePoint Influencers” and leave out the guy who leads most of Forrester Research’s SharePoint publication.  I’d be willing to wager that more CIO’s and senior directors read the reports produced by Rob Koplowitz and his team than read 95% of the Twitter feeds that Scratch Media apparently weighs so heavily.   There is an army of good folks at Gartner as well—I think very highly of Larry Cannell’s work on SharePoint and Yammer.
The Godfather
No list of SharePoint influencers is complete without Joel Oleson.  Mr. Oleson may have left Microsoft years ago but he stays relevant by updating core concepts of his work for the modern era.  The simplicity of his updated governance pyramid model, for instance, presents a straightforward, easily digestible take on how to apply governance to a far-more-social SharePoint world than the one that existed back in the days of MOSS 2007.  It’s a brilliantly easy way to talk about governance with stakeholders, and I’m in his debt for its publication and sharing.
There you go—I’ve named eleven people whose thinking and publishing on and about SharePoint directly influences my own, and that of thousands of others.
Who are yours?

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Rich Wood

Rich Wood has been planning, designing and building enterprise solutions and internet sites with an emphasis on stellar user and customer experiences since 1997. Rich is a National Director for Content and Commerce Platform work in Perficient Digital. One of the rare breed of strategists to truly understand both the business needs of the customer and the platforms that serve them, he is a keen advocate for and accomplished speaker/writer on issues that surround that inflection point. His work has been published on CMSWire, Sitecore and Microsoft partner blogs, and his own LinkedIn page as well as our various blogs here at Perficient, and he has spoken at multiple major conferences including Microsoft's SharePoint Conference 2014. Married and a father of five, Rich enjoys spending time with his wife and family. He is a native of South Milwaukee, Wisconsin and a graduate of Marquette University.

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