Online File Sharing:  An Update on “Going Rogue”

Earlier this year I wrote a blog about online file sharing and collaboration and how it has become one of the most popular applications within the enterprise.  It came as no surprise to me that the Forrester Wave™ on File Sync and Share Platforms1  reports that 21% of global information workers already use file sync solutions.  Without file syncing, collaboration can quickly descend into chaos.

Today’s iWorker, knowledge workers who rely on electronic and printed information in their daily jobs, need access to the right information at the right time in the format of their choice.

To get their jobs done this increasingly includes sharing files with distributed colleagues, global teams, partners and customers. All of this sharing is (generally) great—but it also presents challenges in keeping track of versions and which files are the most current.

File sync and sharing platforms are designed to help users and IT avoid this information chaos—but deciding on the right one for your organization means answering some tough questions.

In my experience, these questions usually involve tradeoffs between fast, easy access and securing valuable enterprise information. A good example: should supported collaboration tools and information sharing happen in the cloud or via on-premise applications (or a hybrid of both)?

You cannot effectively answer these questions on a macro level, especially in regards to file sharing and collaboration. Collaboration and information security requirements are just not the same across business processes.  Just think about the people in Accounts Receivable sharing files with suppliers, or developers collaborating with distributed software teams, or marketing sharing information with Sales and Customer Service.

It seems clear to me that collaboration can range from ad hoc, temporary exchanges of files, to repeatable, defined workflows.  It also involves not only different types of information but different departmental goals. And let’s not forget that collaboration processes frequently cross departmental boundaries.

This is where companies who regularly review their processes to help improve the way they manage information can have a distinct advantage over those who do not.  Done properly, information process reviews can put these companies in a much better position to communicate different collaboration goals and requirements to IT as they evaluate file sync and sharing platform solutions. And better file sync and sharing solutions means more productive employees with less risk to enterprise information.

In the spirit of collaboration, when was the last time you reviewed your file sharing and collaboration processes with your Line of Business managers together with IT?

1 Schadler, Ted and Rob Koplowitz, et. al., “The Forrester Wave™: File Sync And Share Platforms, Q3 2013,” Forrester, July 10, 2013.

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