As we venture into 2014 expect to hear a lot more about file sharing/syncing. Not surprising given that 25% of information workers now use file sync and share services in their jobs, according to Forrester Research — up from just 5% in 2010.
Anywhere, Anytime, Anyone
And I believe those numbers will continue to climb. Despite sounding mundane, file sharing/syncing (thanks to the cloud and BYOD) has begun to significantly reshape how we work with each other. By making files, documents and application data available and usable on any device, file sharing/syncing empowers employees to work anywhere, anytime, with anyone — using whatever device is at hand.
Lest you decide to discourage such behavior, consider that BYOD provides more than eight hours of additional productivity per week as a BYODer normally works beyond the time-and-place parameters of the traditional office.
Why Enterprise File Sharing/Syncing is Playing Catch-Up
Of course, such sharing and syncing has become downright typical for, say, iPhone/iPad consumers who access their documents and images stashed away in their iCloud accounts. But for employees doing their jobs – not so much. At least not officially.
There are good reasons for this:
The operating systems that run classic desktop systems and even laptops were based (a generation ago, before the Internet ruled the world) on the assumption of a local file system, so some work has been required to enable users to function as if their files, documents, images, etc., reside in a remote distributed file system.
Current popular consumer-oriented file sharing/syncing services are low-cost and cloud-based — but too often lack enterprise-grade capabilities. Consumer-grade file sharing/syncing tends to have inadequate content encryption, insufficient IT control over the location of your data and management of its lifecycle (e.g., access control, permissions), an inability to separate corporate data from employees’ personal data, and difficulty accessing data for e-discovery.
When it comes to certain types of data — files that are very large or highly sensitive (think medical records, patient information, credit card transactions) — the cloud is not seen as a viable storage option.
Getting The File Sharing/Syncing Capability You Need
Happily, enterprise-grade file sharing/syncing alternatives have arrived that can allow you to embrace BYOD — with or without a cloud component (more on that in my next post). An experienced file sharing/syncing services and solutions provider can work with you to field a capability that ensures …
- Your data is safe in the location of your choosing
- You retain control of your corporate data (including the ability to remotely wipe employee devices) and access to your corporate infrastructure
- You can easily implement policies that ensure regulatory compliance, employee privacy protections and the ability to respond efficiently to e-discovery requests
In my next post I’ll take a more granular look at the types of file sharing/syncing capabilities to look for.