Our IT community has long been held captive by requirements to “tell” end users what to do. Use this app, don’t use that one. Read the 20-page manual.
But the new shapes and forms of software are changing how end users experience technology. Well-designed software is “showing” them what’s possible. They are swiping and downloading apps on their own. And they are enticed by a multitude of application choices, making it even harder to accept being told what to do.
An opportunity awaits for IT leaders with the foresight and willingness to adapt to a new role. When IT takes a leadership position to provide users with authentic experiences that fulfill their pressing needs, IT will be viewed through a new lens. They will be the heroes, not naysayers, while still protecting their organization and managing costs.
But this IT transformation cannot happen unless all three sets of interrelated stakeholders approach things differently.
First, as vendors, we must design and build software differently. Rather than heavily load on features, we must hide complexity and make the most frustrating daily tasks incredibly simple. Instead of expecting users to train on software, intuitive design should let them naturally peel away only what they want, or go as deeply as they want.
Second, IT must adapt from enforcing the use of required apps, to thrilling and compelling users to gain value from the application. It will no longer be acceptable to assume a go live date met, or a list of features included, make an application successful. The single most important metric for IT and vendors alike will be end user engagement.
Third, end users should keep an open mind about what to expect from their technology at work. A change is underway that will move enterprise software productivity ahead of what users can do with consumer apps. Let go of the idea that the best apps are those you find on your own, at home. Prepare to be surprised.
As behaviors across these three groups evolve, many new and different experiences await. For IT especially, there is an opportunity for significant repositioning. It will take new skills (marketing), new job titles (customer success managers), and a rethinking of what matters (end user engagement). But as IT provisions and drives use of productivity tools that intuitively deliver value, IT will become the hero. And they’ll do it by showing users the way, not telling them to follow it.
We’ll tell you right now. The second you open Syncplicity’s new iPhone app, it’s going to be love at first swipe.
Our secure, enterprise file sync and share solution has always featured a consumer-grade UX users love. That’s why Gartner referred to our “modern UI” and “enhanced user experience” in naming us 2014 Magic Quadrant leaders. But our new iPhone app sets the UX bar even higher. Way, way higher.
In building this app, we set out to innovate in three key areas: beauty, efficiency, and power.
Beauty: The app is visually stunning and personalized from the very first time you use it.
Efficiency: We have designed innovative ways to navigate vast amounts of information and access features with the simple swipe of the thumb.
Power: We have packed an enormous amount of functionality into a very small device without making it complicated.
Through radical design innovation, we’ve created a fresh, elegant interface that’s as attractive and easy to use as it is powerful. New globally recognized avatars help orient the user throughout the app, and a three-panel main screen view brings unprecedented function and form to the iPhone’s limited real estate.
Bet you already want to meet our new app. No problem. We’ve set it all up.
Watch our 36-second Love at First Swipe video.
We’ve been cooking up some cool new content that we’d like to share with you.
Take a guess at what we’ve got in store. Here’s a hint…
What do you do to become light but not bright?
To move the largest of things with the lightest of touch?
And to hold all that you need in the palm of your hand,
ready to use but never to lose?
ANSWER: You GO LITE, of course, with Syncplicity. See how!
The use of enterprise file sync and share applications has seen tremendous growth in the past year. A December 2013 ESG report noted that 42% of organizations have IT sanctioned and company-funded file sharing applications – a sizable increase from the 28% just one year earlier. Clearly, the promise of these platforms - secure and easy viewing, sharing and editing of enterprise content – has grabbed the attention of forward looking organizations looking to enhance workforce productivity.
With this industry in a stage of tremendous growth, we thought it would make sense to take a deeper dive into the issues customers have experienced as they explore and deploy file sync and share technologies.
In our experience at EMC Syncplicity, we’ve seen three distinct evolutionary stages in enterprise file sharing. The first is completely end user-centric, often at the disadvantage of the cautious IT department. This stage is marked by a demand for convenience above everything else. The second stage prizes security and compliance, almost always at the expense of user convenience. The third stage – by far the most critical for enterprises – is when these two stakeholders reconcile their differences for mutual benefit, and adopt a solution that satisfies their diverse needs.
Stage 1: Convenience at Any Cost
It’s no secret that technology users have embraced popular public cloud-based services in their work and personal lives. Obvious examples are social media applications such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, email services such as Gmail and Yahoo, and note-taking applications such as Evernote. These services are intuitive, easy to use, and are readily available at no cost to users on their desktops, laptops and mobile devices – a consequence of the “bring your own device” (BYOD) phenomenon. Users now expect all the work applications they use to be just as intuitive, easy to access and engaging.
The drawbacks to the enterprise, in this stage, need little explanation. Most organizations do not want their employees storing critical data in the public cloud. These applications do not meet the stringent regulatory compliance standards for transmitting or sharing critical data. To put it bluntly, these services may be convenient, but they are rarely up to IT snuff.
Stage 2: Security Brings the Hammer Down
As the pain of stage one becomes clear to IT, we enter a second stage mired in the “us versus them” paradigm. IT departments, fearing the risk to their organization’s most important asset – data –and facing mandates to comply with corporate and government regulations, are reluctant to give employees access to certain applications that require storing and accessing information on public clouds. IT departments have experienced too many data leaks or exploits through breaches or cyber espionage and it’s no surprise that a whopping 95% of organizations who use public clouds are searching for alternative data storage methods.
It’s at this second stage that IT quashes the use of purely public file sync and share platforms, pushing users to adopt older, more traditional file sync and share or FTP solutions that are slow, clunky, difficult to use and add, at least from the user’s perspective, very little value to their work. In the second stage, users start to rebel, taking matters into their own hands by downloading these banned “shadow IT” file sharing solutions, essentially returning the company to the first stage.
Stage 3: Hybrid Cloud Reconciliation
It’s at this third and final stage that users and IT find the solution that meets their collective needs. Specifically, users get a simple and easy-to-use platform, while IT departments can enforce strict policies on who can access what document when and where, and can dictate that certain data be stored on-premises, thereby avoiding the security and/or compliance headaches that can occur with a purely public cloud deployment. We call this the hybrid cloud model: it gives customers a choice to store their data in the public cloud or on-premises. Instead of file sync & share provider dictating where the information is stored, IT departments drive the decision making process, but maintain the support of end users by providing an ideal app experience regardless of the targeted storage backend.
At EMC Syncplicity, we’re working hard to help our customers bypass the first two stages – which are fraught with infighting, security and compliance challenges, low usage rates, and a significant reduction in productivity. Our customers require a solution that breaks the mold of the “security versus user experience” false dichotomy. Businesses demand simple and secure file sharing solutions in order to realize the full value of the app-based sharing economy. Any platform that does not satisfy the key demands of both users and IT departments inevitably falls short of the core promise of enterprise file sync and share and will never be fully adopted – and our customers cannot afford to be in that situation.
We asked dozens of people within the Syncplicity team to challenge themselves for 30 days to only take a mobile device to meetings and leave their laptop at the desk. Or at home! The challenge was to experience first-hand what it’s like to rely only on a mobile device for everything from content consumption to editing.
Truth be told, I got a head start. The idea was hatched over the holidays and I started doing it almost immediately, well before our new mobile apps were launched.
Some of you probably saw my earlier tweets. And probably also saw that after a few weeks I slowed down on my “Go Lite” tweets. It turns out, this was not because I lost interest in the challenge. Quite the contrary! “Going Lite” became so deeply ingrained in how I did my work that I completely forgot I was taking a challenge!
And, that’s why I said the challenge was “concluding”—for me and many of you I know it will now be business as usual. I have no intention of going back.
So what did I learn from my experience?
What I liked the most…
Of course, if mobile devices could replace laptops 100% then laptops would no longer exist.
Here are some things that challenged me…
The Go Lite challenge showed me first hand how so many “work streams” in our daily routine do can now be done entirely on mobile devices. But that doesn’t mean all of them can.
Some work streams require vendors to take a “mobile first” approach—where vendors need to understand that their user is now most often mobile, and accessing the app on a mobile device, so everything about the app and user experience needs to start with “mobile”.
A growing number of work streams require a “mobile only” approach—the end user is always mobile and requires capabilities that leverage features only available on mobile device (e.g., camera, microphone, location awareness, proximity awareness, touch screen, etc.)
For a growing minority of apps, it’s still acceptable to follow a “mobile also” approach when the primary use case requires the processing, screen, and user input characteristics of a desktop or laptop. But new mobile devices are starting to close those gaps. And, enterprise vendors that are still building “mobile also” apps for mobile users will need to wake up soon!
Thanks again to everyone inside Syncplicity, EMC, and many of our customers and friends that took the Go Lite challenge. This was as much about learning as it was to have fun. And we hope you did both!
Head of Marketing