v. SharePoint: The Cloud as a Disruptive Technology

Previously, I wrote a blog post disagreeing with the marketing premise of, which is that provides an alternative to SharePoint. At the time, I was thinking about enterprise customers, who value the rich features of SharePoint and are willing to deal with complexities of its deployment and configuration.

And in regards this basic fact, I’ve not changed my mind. However, after reading Clayton M. Christensen’s book, The Innovator’s Dilemma, I realized that does pose a threat to Microsoft’s SharePoint.

Christensen distinguishes between sustaining and disruptive technologies. Sustaining technologies are those that improve upon existing products and add value to current customers. Dominant firms have an advantage in implementing sustaining technologies because of their strong operational processes, brand loyalty, and customer base. In contrast, disruptive technologies are at first inferior to existing products and do not add value to current customers. Dominant firms disregard these technologies. Upstarts, however, find a way to exploit and eventually perfect these disruptive technologies, until eventually the disruptive technology becomes the dominant technology and the upstart overthrows the dominant players.

As an example, RCA dismissed transistors because transistors did not initially produce the sound quality that its customers had come to expect with tubes. Smaller competitors worked to perfect the transistor technology and eventually overtook RCA.

The model of offering basic content management for free, or at a low price, exclusively through the cloud gives it a disruptive edge. End users, small businesses, and even departments within enterprises (acting without the blessing of IT) are signing up for in droves. Users view as they view Facebook or Twitter, as a social media site available to all. With my free account I could collaborate with anybody.

In contrast, SharePoint, though available through a SaaS model, generally falls under the purview of IT, which has its needs for strict processes and controls. Despite the technical capabilities of the product to enable sharing with external parties, SharePoint sites tend to start and end within the walls of the corporation. has cloud at its core; SharePoint has cloud on its periphery. just makes the user experience of signing up so much simpler. Could it be that will grow its feature set, attract an overwhelming base of users, and eventually render SharePoint obsolete even for enterprise customers?

I'm the Director of Threat Solutions at Shape Security, a top 50 startup defending the world's leading websites and mobile apps against malicious automation. Request our 2017 Credential Spill Report at to get the big picture of the threats we all face. See my LinkedIn profile at and follow me on Twitter at

Posted in Cloud Computing

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