SharePoint Workflow as Commodity


I’ve been working with Windows Workflow Foundation while listening to the Smashing Pumpkins ‘Earphoria’ tracks. I just finished Geek USA. Crazy great rock and roll.


Anyway, I am intrigued by the Activities Gallery on the site. By now, most people know about SharePoint in the Office 12 timeframe having some cool workflow features. I imagine a SharePoint workflow activities gallery. Think of people creating all sorts of workflow widgets for various business processes and putting them in the activities gallery. Sure, developers get something out of it by borrowing code, but there are bigger things at stake:


SharePoint Workflow could make workflow a commodity.


Right now, you are reading this post in a news reader or browser. In the end, you don’t care how it all gets served up. You see the content display, you read it. Text display is a commodity. Web browsers are a commodity. The operating system is a commodity (sort of). So many aspects of computing have been commoditized. But, not workflow. Go purchase half a dozen workflow software packages, and they are all different. No one has figured it out. No one is 100% sure what “it” is either.


SharePoint could change all that. The ubiquity of Windows and the growing presence of SharePoint could make workflow an assumed part of any organization. Right now, I say ‘presentation to sales managers’ and you think, ‘slide deck’. I say, quarterly earnings report and you think, spreadsheet. I say invoice processing, and it’s anyone’s guess what comes next. But, the omnipresence of workflow could change that. We could get to a point where we think instinctively in terms of workflow processes etc.


 Rock Thought for the Day: Smashing Pumpkins reunited? If it comes true, get the defribulator. See, Billy baited us in December when he posted to his myspace site about having patience for some great announcement. Now, rumors abound about them playing at Coachella. I’ll make the trip for that. Another rumor has surfaced about them touring Europe. I’ll make the trip for that. As you know, I loved his solo effort- a brilliant artifice with great guitar work and really using effects like a separate instrument on their own. If it is true that we will once again see this band together, I’ll be blogging about it from every angle, every nuance, every thought and impression.


Rock On

Comments (1)

  1. Christian says:

    Hear, hear! Coming from a background of PLM (product lifecycle management) and collaboration tools, workflow is the killer app.

    In the manufacturing technology space, workflow is the way of life – methodology, cross-team interactions, and the BOM are all connected through massive workflow engines.

    Its exciting to see these concepts slowly finding their way into the IW space. Workflow is essential to automating things such as HR capabilities (time off approval process, annual review process, benefits administration, etc), Help Desk (routing various request types, automating multi-step approval processes), and project management (approvals, life cycle tracking).

    While SharePoint would not answer all of these needs (nor should it), offering even simple workflow options would greatly improve the value of SharePoint within my organization. And from that capability, we would most assuredly see a surge in functional web parts to solve critical business needs.

    You’ve got me excited about Office 12, John!