November 9, 2018
7 strategic guidelines for an effective EFSS solution
Over time, Enterprise File Sync and Share (EFSS) solutions have developed into dominant platforms. These solutions help to drive business operations and innovation to the next level.
Nowadays, the words cloud, Dropbox and OneDrive, are synonymous terms within our daily vernacular. Yet, it’s important to note that these platforms are not always a great combination for your business. Why? Simply put, today businesses need a more secure, modern experience to bring about strong digital transformation.
Staying in the past is a bad idea for a business that still utilizes these platforms, “security issues or regulatory requirements” must be a real concern. It’s important to note that having certain criteria in place for a modern EFSS solution, what Gartner now calls “CCP,” is necessary to make an educated decision for a modern digital workplace.
Seven criteria for a modern CCP solution
1. User Experience
Let’s start with the basics! Design is the key to a great user experience. It must be undetectable for a smooth CCP solution. Deficient design factors slow down work progress and impede the bottom line. You will always run into hassles when your workers don’t have quick access to a reliable solution. Workers tend to veer off course and fall back on handy crutches such as the cloud, etc. These days, organizations still require remote workers to access documents through a VPN—bad idea! If you want to be fully protected, it’s important that they access files through an app that lets them stream and share content without having to log on, download or e-mail files.
These implementations promote a modern way to deliver a secure digital transformation experience.
The General Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR) is causing many businesses headaches because of the confusion around the new laws. You can spend all day trying to figure out the maze.
Bottom-line takeaway: “Companies based outside the EU must comply if they do business with even one business or individual inside the EU. Penalties are steep if not followed.”
To avoid these penalties, businesses need “data sovereignty.” This is the “idea that content is subject to governance according to the law of where it is stored.”
The good news is that Axway’s Syncplicity[JM2] supports data sovereignty. The Syncplicity solution provides “built-in location control that gives customers the choice of where their data is stored.” This helps with governance controls. Note that “zero content knowledge is a mandatory requirement for a GDPR-compliant CCP solution.” This simply means that a vendor “encrypts customers’ files so they can be read ONLY by the customer.”
To meet GDPR requirements, companies must have a solution in place that supports which data can be accessed and shared—end of story. Many EU-based companies usually have their data on site. This allows them to keep private data within the EU.
Ransomware is no joke! Back in the day, ransomware was an easy way for small-time crooks to steal information. They have now become savvier (sadly) and are now a serious threat to organizations that are not protected. Ransomware doesn’t take your data. They go one step further and they encrypt it. This means the owner cannot use it. This is a disaster all around if you’re not protected.
A company-wide CCP solution helps to get rid of ransomware threats. Note, no option can stop ransomware all together, but it helps to make the attack irrelevant and mitigate the loss for your company. “Syncplicity aids in ransomware mitigation across industries.”
With a CCP solution in place, you can replicate and restore files back to where they started in the first place. This solution supports quicker retrieval times, as well as reducing costs and lost income.
4. Cloud vendor lock-in
What is a cloud vendor lock-in? This happens when “a company that has moved part of its business to the cloud and now they can’t move out because migration will be too painful.”
A company should only consider CCP solutions that are “decoupled from storage choice.” A good example is the GDPR. Companies that used US data centers are now required to have their data stored in the region that they are based.
5. External sharing
External sharing is a big concern if you’re not protected at the highest level. Compliance and security certainly are important factors, but they are not the only ones for a better solution. Usability must be well-maintained for users on both sides of the coin. Companies that share files with other partners need to look for four features to be protected:
• Security and user-friendly external sharing capabilities
• Zero costs for external sharing
• Control levels of trust
• Rights management and DLP controls that prevent content from being shared accidentally
This helps to enable a much smoother CCP solution.
6. Machine collaboration
It’s a fact of life that automation is here to stay. Just go to the corner pharmacy and you end up checking and paying for your own items. Gone are the days of a human doing the work for you in most cases. Companies need to be able to work with automated apps to compete. This is simply a fact of life. This requires a CCP solution that works—and works well.
A company can only work efficiently when automation works in tandem with content collaboration. Syncplicity has improved “operation efficiency, as well as the customer experience, improved utilization, being mobile within existing systems, external sharing which is added to the existing systems, cloud-based distribution capabilities added to existing systems.” All these points help to bring about a smooth CCP solution.
7. Customer success
To have smooth customer success, you need to have the users and IT teams on board. The IT teams will need help understanding the CCP solutions features and what their full agenda is for a smooth transition. At that time, the system is ready for deployment and configuration.
Thanks to Syncplicity, IT-readiness is available to set up security and administrative controls. Further, Syncplicity drives adoption by delivering guidance and support.
The result is you need user adoption for a positive outcome. To have a real digital transformation all around, companies with regulatory, security and supply chain concerns require a CCP solution that works from the ground up.
Be sure to choose a solution that is designed to leverage technology and not hinder it. These are the ideal foundational steps that you need to have in place to bring about a smooth transition.
Read our White Pape rto learn more about the CCP solution.
October 25, 2018
Knock down barriers to content collaboration in health care
Nowadays, value-based health care requires more help to ensure that the right follow-up takes place. What hospitals have discovered is that content collaborationin health care is indeed a challenge. The big questions are: How do health care practitioners enable an easy flow of content collaboration, as well as protect their data?
Many things come into play. Thanks to the informative Webinar:Knock Down Barriers to Content Collaboration in health care, Ruby Raley, Vice President of Healthcare Solutions at Axway and Vivek Mody, Vice President for Content Collaboration Platform, Axway Syncplicity were able to answer these questions.
Digital transformation is occurring
Ruby stated that “digital transformation is occurring; Digitalization of records, workflows, services, etc., have risen in costs of about 18% in the U.S. alone. This is approaching 18% of the country’s GDP (government policy driving value approach.)”
Furthermore, there’s a “data explosion. Rapid digitalization of health data is driving 50 X projected data growth from 2012 to 2020. Also, there are many technology shifts: The smartphone adoption will reach 80% in the developed world by 2020.”
Demand is high for health care data exchange
Health care has many dilemmas to face. Let’s start with the fact that the health care industry has the largest number of data breaches of all industries. $480 per record from $380 last year. Let’s ask ourselves, “what will it be in 2020?” Sadly, the global average cost of a data breach is up 6.4% over last year.
To add fuel to this fire, e-mail and phishing breaches have become a real challenge across the board in health care. Systems are being frozen and basically held for ransom. Hospitals are even paying money to ransomware to get their server back. This must stop!
According to Doug Brown, Managing Partner of Black Book Research, “we’re stuck. In 2018, 57% hospitals are reporting that network physician’s practices operating on assorted EHRs report that they continue to lack the financial and technical expertise to adopt complex interoperability which is compulsory to attain higher reimbursements built into value-based initiatives by both public and private payers.”
To succeed, collaboration must get better, faster, cheaper. And without a doubt, it must be secure and controlled. Currently, hospitals feel they struggle with sharing data with health care plans and providers. They don’t have a good way to get what we need when we need it. Further, they can’t afford complex decisions. You’re stuck waiting for information. It’s important to make sure your information is shared securely.
Despite all IT investments and digital transformation, collaboration is still a problem, health care needs to be secure and controlled.
Content collaboration: Syncplicity solution to the rescue!
Thanks to the Axway Syncplicitysolution, you’re able to “knock down these content collaboration barriers in health care.” Syncplicity brings a new and innovative approach to the table to give clinicians the power to exchange content in an easy and rapid way.
Vivek Mody stated, “this product has the things that you need.” When you think of the kind of documents and supporting patient care information that you have, how do you securely protect the information?”
Vivek said that “what we are seeing is on-demand need to share content. With Axway Syncplicity, we can help your organization.”
The great part about Syncplicity is that it helps to make sure content collaboration is seamless. This involves innovative user experience, IT modernization, as well as data protection and security.
Content collaboration platforms and file-sharing solutions are designed to promote file sharing, collaboration and mobility. Without a great user experience and ease of use, why modernize? “Syncplicity in a single pane of glass gives users a consumer-grade solution designed for security-conscious organizations to easily share and collaborate on secure documents.” Easy secure file sharing internally, as well as externally.
Easy access to your information
For health care coordinators and practitioners to work efficiently, collaboration is necessary. You should be able to collaborate around files, pdfs, etc. Patient care information needs to be shared over a secure environment.
Health care providers and clinicians can now access their files from any device, as well as work from their mobile/tablets via Syncplicity app securely. You’re also able to modernize IT via consolidating legacy content repositories into your cloud and lower costs: public, private or on-premise.
Further with data privacy, again, you have the option of public or private cloud: what works best for you? When dealing with data, you need control over collaboration. Internal and external sharing allows you to do both while providing security for your messaging.
Lastly, what IT wants, and needs is control. With Syncplicity, you need to have visibility, so you can detect when someone is getting out of compliance.
Syncplicity helps knock down these barriers to content collaboration in healthcare so your data and content are protected. Learn more about Syncplicity here.
Watch the Webinar on demand here.
August 23, 2018 | by Kristie Conner
Magic Quadrant for Content Collaboration Platforms: Standing out from the Crowd!
In July, Gartner publishedtheir Gartner Magic Quadrant for Content Collaboration Platforms, and we were very excited, actually, super excited to be positioned as a leader. Then shortly after that publication, Gartner published the Gartner Mid-Market Context: ‘Magic Quadrant for Content Collaboration Platforms” and we were named a notable vendor for a second year in a row.
What does this mean? It means that not only are we considered a leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant, we are also considered a notable vendor for mid-size (MSE) enterprises who need the same level of security, storage choice and user experience as larger enterprises, but have a strong understanding of the mid-market and support based on their unique challenges.
The Mid-Market Context: ‘Magic Quadrant for Content Collaboration Platforms” research highlights consideration for technology and service selection, such a simplified pricing, all-inclusive licensing and discounts for multi-year subscriptions. While, this is beneficial to our mid-size enterprises, we believe that it is of value for our larger enterprise customers as well. Our pricing model overall for all sizes of enterprisesis simple and all-inclusive to help customers manage their total cost of ownership.
Commitment to the Mid-Market
Axway is committed to the mid-market enterprise and, over the last 12 months, we’ve built out a team of account executives, customer success managers and a partner organization designed to focus and support the mid-market enterprise. Mid-size enterprises who value Syncplicity for file sharing and content collaborationtypically are faced with the same type of security or compliance requirements as their larger counterparts and/or have complex use cases they are solving. Syncplicity helps solve several business challenges with one solution that integrates with existing content repositories, storage solutions and technologies like Office 365. Our content collaboration solutions augment existing systems while solving business challenges like – modernizing home directories, mobile access to files, easy and secure internal and external file sharing, real-time backup – while providing enterprise-grade security and compliance.
Customer Success Team
While Syncplicity is a great solution for mid-size enterprises, what really makes Syncplicity stand out is our Customer Success Team. This is a team that is dedicated to helping our customers achieve their goals – whether it’s modernizing their home directories, real-time backup, file distribution to a mobile workforce or internal and external sharing. This team partners with our customers from proof of concept – through user adoption, engagement and helps customers assimilate new features as they are released.
Read the research and find out why Syncplicity was named a notable vendorfor the second year in a row!
July 24, 2018 | by Kristie Conner
Feeling Super! Proud to be named a Leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Content Collaboration
We are beyond thrilled to announce that Gartner has named Syncplicity a leader in the Magic Quadrant for Content Collaboration Platforms report, the second time under Axway and fourth time overall. The Gartner Magic Quadrant evaluates vendors in a market – based on the completeness of vision and their ability to execute. In this year’s Magic Quadrant, Syncplicity was evaluated along with 14 other vendors and recognized as a leader. In addition, Syncplicity, was also named a Notable Vendor in the Gartner Mid-Market Context: ‘Magic Quadrant for Content Collaboration Platforms.’
The Market – It's Changing.
Formerly known as enterprise file synchronization and sharing (EFSS) , the category was renamed in 2017 to Content Collaboration Platforms (CCP) to align with the evolution of the offerings over the four-year period. The market is still evolving, and this year, CCP is identified as a core component of digital transformation to power the digital workplace “Content Collaboration Platforms can transform how individuals and teams work. Inside or outside the organizations, they add structure and insight when collaboration involves unstructured data.”
We have some examples of customers who early on identified CCP as a core component of their digital transformation projects. Siemens, has spoken publicly about their Smart Storage initiative that kicked off several years ago, with Syncplicity being a key component. And, over the last four years we’ve seen other customers who started with basic file sharing, expand their use cases to replace outdated home directories or their desktop backup vendors with Syncplicity. We expect, based on the research and what we are seeing with our customers, that there is going to be more expectations placed on CCP as companies pursue the broader digital workplace and digital transformation initiatives in their efforts to promote new work styles – and optimize business processes.
What does it mean – to be a leader?
To be a leader, a vendor must provide a mature offering that meets market demands and the demonstrated the vision necessary to sustain their market positions and requirements evolve. Gartner highlights, “The hallmark of Leaders is that they focus and invest in their offerings in order to lead the market and affect its overall direction.”¹ .
We take great pride in our leadership role and strive to meet the market demands while having an impact on the overall direction of the market and prioritizing our customers.
We recommend that you read the latest research from Gartner, complimentary, for insight nto the market and what to expect in 2018 and beyond.
¹ Gartner, Magic Quadrant for Content Collaboration Platforms, Monica Basso, Michael Woodbridge, Karen A. Hobert, 9 July 2018
Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner's research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.
July 11, 2018 | by Kristie Conner
Syncplicity + Microsoft. Work better. Together.
Enterprises today have had no shortage of options when it comes to content collaboration platforms (CCP), formerly enterprise file sync and share (ESFS). In recent years, the explosion of the cloud has increased that number dramatically as cloud-based storage and collaboration solutions saturate the market. And when it comes to cloud office solutions, there is no one company more ubiquitous in the enterprise than Microsoft. Today, eighty percent of the Fortune 500 is on the Microsoft Cloud, which means many of those companies are using Office 365 —management and collaboration platform — to the tune of over 60 million monthly active user and rising.
Microsoft Office 365 offers a lot, some would argue maybe everything a company needs – cloud productivity apps -- such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint; collaboration services like Skype and OneDrive Business, their file storage service in the cloud. Office 365 offers great capabilities across many applications for one to one collaboration and saving files the the cloud.
Challenge #1: When do you need something more?
One of the nice things about Office 365 is the breadth of solutions that it provides. When it comes to content collaboration or cloud file sharing some will use OneDrive for storing their Office 365 documents and sharing with a team member.
But, there are times when it’s not enough. – when the organization has complex requirements and use cases. Whether it’s a mobile workforce – like a pharmaceutical company that needs secure access to files from any device, anywhere or a manufacturing company that needs to securely share large files seamlessly, continuously with third parties. It’s not just about the experience, but what the experience is hiding from the user – ensuring that security requirements are met, helping ensure data sovereignty across regions, integrating with legacy infrastructure, or where the data is stored – on-premises, public or a private cloud.
Syncplicity offers seamless integrations with Office 365, providing a comprehensive solution for both team collaboration and more extensive and secure content sharing and management capabilities for power users, or knowledge workers who need to securely share large files with partners, vendors or suppliers. To learn more, click here.
Challenge #2: Where’s the data?
One of the most common challenges across large organizations is file management. As companies evolve from traditional enterprises that relied on on-premises systems to a digital company moving more and more into cloud, the amount of complexity around file management increases. As cloud-only solution such as Dropbox and Box entered the market, we started to see a commoditization of file storage.
This has created an endless number of options for departments and teams to choose from — creating a tangled mess of departmentally-driven solutions that don’t align with IT security requirements, create silos that slow productivity, and add unnecessary complexity to the simple task of sharing a file. When was the last time, you received a notification in your inbox to accept a file share from someone, only to have to download an application or sign up for an online service simply to access the shared file?
Syncplicity abstracts the complexities of file storage that you can focus on what matters most...the content. As a “storage agnostic” collaboration platform, Syncplicity allows you to share and access content anytime, anywhere regardless of where the files are stored – on-premises, cloud even geographical location. By decoupling file storage from collaboration, enterprises who have a complex infrastructure have options to meet their unique needs now and into the future.
If you are an Office 365 customer and want to store some of your Office files on-premises, we give you that option while keeping your less sensitive files in the Azure cloud. Many of the leading storage options such as Dropbox and Box provide great storage capabilities, but don’t offer you storage choice. Security is a driver for why our customers love to use Syncplicity for enterprise-wide file sharing and collaboration or to ensure hyper-sensitive data like financials, customer data is secure and protected. Our centralized approach —built with next-generation global content protection and security controls in mind — ensures IT has central control and accessibility to all content to ensure compliance standards such as GDPR are adhered at all times.
Challenge #3: Power Users + Sensitive Data
Another piece of feedback we’ve heard from our customers on their experience with OneDrive is that it designed for saving and working with Microsoft files in the cloud. Where things start to falter is when you want to securely share a file with multiple people or with entire groups outside of the company. As a result, users start to look for workaround and alternative solutions to get what they want ranging from email (if the files are small enough to send) to extreme measures like mailing whole hard drives with sensitive information.
Additionally, one of the biggest fears with Microsoft extending its reach into the cloud is the notion of vendor lock-in. Before the cloud and a number of productivity tools at your disposal, there was Microsoft Office. That was the only game in town. Fast forward to today, we are seeing companies who have invested in the Microsoft Cloud trying to not fall into old habits and are trying to keep their options open for the sake of agility and flexibility.
We believe that the Syncplicity integration with Office 365 addresses those concerns and more, creating a unified digital workspace that is powerful and secure, while flexible enough to work with any type of unstructured data across the enterprise, beyond files on the desktop.
A match made for enterprise collaboration!
When it comes to team and company productivity, you don’t want the data to get in the way of your success. Today’s cloud storage solutions simply add unnecessary complexity to an already complex scenario. The smart way to approach content and collaboration is to focus on what fuels team productivity — easy and secure access to content when you need it.
Office 365 serves as a solid foundation that offers a complete set of productivity tools. But if you are struggling to support more complex use cases such as the need to share valuable information in a secure fashion, the ability to share content with multiple groups both internal and external, or have strict requirements around security and compliance — Syncplicity offers the best integrations with Office 365 in addition to additional capabilities, flexibility, and security today’s digital enterprises require.
Learn more about how Syncplicity + Office 365 helps drive productivity and innovation?
April 11, 2018 | by Kristie Conner
The changing face of Enterprise File Sync and Share
The content collaboration platform (CCP) market, formerly enterprise file sync and share, is going through a period of rapid transformation. CCP is a key building block for digital transformation as enterprises look to modernize their infrastructure to power a modern, digital workplace. Some, CCP solutions are providing enterprises with a path to modernize their infrastructure and realize the productivity benefits of a secure mobile, digital workforce while ensuring data is stored securely and in line with changing data protection regulations. True digital transformation requires unlocking unstructured data from within legacy infrastructure – home directories, group shares and making it easily accessible to enterprise users from any device, anywhere while offering security and a feature rich CCP solution.
For CCP solutions to truly enable digital transformation – businesses need to understand their infrastructure and security requirements and then map to the right CCP solution. Whether from an application or infrastructure perspective, CCP solutions will need to adapt to ensure their place as strategic and competitive tool for today’s businesses.
The Digital Workplace
As businesses look to capitalise on the productivity benefits of modern technologies a key trend has been mobility and BYOD. CCP vendors continues to prioritise the “anytime anywhere” working model, enabling the digital workplace while giving senior-level executives peace of mind around security and governance. CCP providers that specialise in hybrid options allow businesses to easily align their data storage with their business needs – whether on premises, in the cloud, a private cloud or a combination of the three.
The digital worker requires seamless access to content “anytime anywhere” on any device regardless of where it resides in the enterprise, but they also require integration with popular user productivity tools like Microsoft Office 365. Modern EFSS providers are not only providing the infrastructure for secure mobile access, but collaboration functionality that improves productivity.
Additionally, as cloud solutions play an increasingly large role, a progressive CCP solution will need to ensure that enterprises maintain flexibility, something that can be achieved through hybrid cloud solutions. Not all data is created equal and large, global corporations need the flexibility that comes with a hybrid cloud offering, allowing them to customize their environment, combining public or private cloud and on premise, without sacrificing usability.
An Infrastructure for Tomorrow – Security, Compliance and Data Protection
With uncertainty still surrounding data protection and compliance enterprises are operating in an increasingly complex environment. One such example is Privacy Shield that was recently approved to replace Safe Harbour. The one certainty is that businesses operating within Europe need to have a fine-grained understanding of what data they are collecting and the geographical regulations that apply to that data. To achieve this -- business are changing the way they evaluate new technology such as cloud, and how which their data is accessed and shared.
CCP can provide an answer. By providing a consolidated modern storage platform, CCP addresses the issues of distributed, costly and insecure legacy storage solutions, delivering a secure and compliant way to manage and store data. CCP solutions which enable infrastructure modernisation will also support enterprises in meeting the most stringent security, governance and IT administration requirements and avoiding costly fines for non-compliance.
And it’s not just being compliant that companies need to worry about. As more global enterprises become victims to ransomware attacks and business leaders become increasingly nervous, EFSS providers can support organisations with real-time backup, multi-folder sync features, retention policies and recovery plans.
The CCP market is evolving to address an increasing number of business requirements to improve collaboration across the digital ecosystem and infrastructure modernization, while ensuring data is secure. Organizations are looking for vendors who integrate with office productivity solutions, like Microsoft Office 365 and connect to back-end content repositories to provide access to content that was previously not available unless you were behind the fire wall. Though integration, whether with applications or infrastructure, CCP can support the modernization of the workplace as a critical component to digital transformation in the modern business.
To learn more read: Gartner Magic Quadrant for Content Collaboration Platforms.
November 20, 2017
Time to bridge MFT and Content Collaboration Platform
BY SCOTT LEWIS, SENIOR DIRECTOR, PRODUCT & SOLUTION MARKETING, AXWAY
Gartner has stated in its recent Magic Quadrant for Content Collaboration Platforms (read the full report here) that 80% of large and midsize organizations in mature regions will have deployed one or more content collaboration platform (CCP) products. Gartner defines CCP as a range of content-centric platforms enabling secure file productivity and content collaboration for individuals and teams as well as supporting the creation of a modern digital workplace. It is the evolution of the EFSS (Enterprise File Sharing and Synchronization) products.
Now this is not meant to be lesson on CCP and MFT but let’s step back and look at both and why there is a value in bridging the two.
CCP solutions address the use cases of people sharing and collaborating very well with other people be it within an organization and with customers, partners and suppliers.
The focused is placed on ease of use and universal access from any device, anytime, anywhere to optimize collaboration with other individuals.
On the other hand, with Managed File Transfer (MFT) solutions the use cases are driven by business processes typically between systems of record which are event and scheduled driven. Premiums are places on automation, monitoring and security. Think “locked down back office processes”.
There is definitely a “better together” scenario if we can bridge MFT with CCP we could open up many new use cases that we have not been able to support before.
Been there, done that but failed
In particular, MFT vendors tried to include file sharing and human based file transfer use cases into their offer. They delivered Frankenstein like products that end users basically refused to use as they were not finding the simplicity they desired. Also, patterns and use cases are so different that it was also creating performance issues on the MFT side. But the intention is still valid, to achieve maximum efficiency and to address hybrid patterns within the organization, IT need to deliver MFT and CCP and expose them as consumer like services to end-users.
Solution is not replacing one with the other
Whatever solution that tried to replace other - MFT by EFSS or EFSS by MFT was just doomed to fail. Both serve a vital purpose and bridging the two properly opens the door to many new possibilities. This is the approach we have taken here at Axway. We have created a bridge between our leading Axway Syncplicity CCP solution and our leading Axway SecureTransport MFT Gateway solution. The two solutions are governed solutions and managed and controlled by IT. Doing so permits new use cases such as an application delivering files to a person or a team, and a person or team sending a file to an application. All while providing the familiar user interface the end users are already using with the benefits of secure anytime, anywhere, any device access.
Take advantage of bridging CCP and MFT
Axway SecureTransport and Syncplicity customers can download the Syncplicity Connector for SecureTransport for free from the Axway AMPLIFY marketplace and start transforming the way their organization collaborates and innovates.
October 26, 2017
What’s missing from those “Millennials Are Killing dot dot dot” lists? Home Directories.
Written by Frank Murphy, Director of Strategic Sales Engineering, Syncplicity
A trend in popular culture today that you may have missed is to catalog the growing list of industries, services, and other business-as-usual practices that are being disrupted or even killed off at the hands of Millennials. Everything from family restaurants, doorbells to napkins are being looked at differently by an entire generation who is unafraid to challenge accepted practices. Although the targets of the disruption vary -- the common factor driving the disruption is the need for convenience, avoiding friction, and living life on the go. What happens when that same approach finds its way into your corporate file storage environment? You guessed it, even more disruption.
As out-dated as the door bell: The Home Directory
Just as the doorbell has been a business-as-usual standard fixture on any flat, apartment or house, it's been standard practice for corporate users for decades to be provisioned a small repository of space. This space is typically carved out on a file server somewhere, that is their ‘home’. This directory comes with a logical organizing structure. Just like the buttons assigned to each occupant of an apartment building and when people arrive -- they push the buzzer.As an end user you have data you need to store, but you don’t need to share it with anyone else you put that in your home directory. That is, it’s specific function – the home of your files. It’s what you do. And you automatically get connected to that home directory through some mapping function when you first login. And just like the doorbell, you get one assigned to you whether you actually use it or not.
That's what happened to me when I first showed up as a new hire at EMC 17 years ago. Access to that home directory assumes that I was tethered to the network and able to reach it over network-based storage protocols. In 2001, it was unthinkable to get access to data remotely - "remote access" meant hopping in your car and driving to the office to get to your files.
A new normal: always-on connectedness
Fast forward to today, and it’s a different world. Remote access means I have to always connect to VPN to get map a drive letter. Who needs that? A mobile tablet or phone or similar device doesn't know what a mapped drive leter is. Syncplicity users have access to all their files all the time. In my case, that access is spread out across five or six different devices. My data is tethered to me, not me tethered to the network to get to my data.
Disrupting the home directory: not just for Millenneals
Although the gray hair in my current badge photo disqualifies me as a millenneal, the same benefit of convenience and reduction of friction is where Syncplicity excels. Plus, not being able to connect to the network, or to any wifi signal brings on feelings of anxiety and FOMO (fear of missing out). In my case the fear isn't missing out on someone's Instagram post or Snap Chat -- it’s the fear of missing a customer request, a sales order or anything else I collaborate on throughout the day. The millennial thinking is: why surprise your host with a loud and disturbing buzzing sound when you can send them a text before you arrive? Avoids the hassle. That hassle avoidance motivation also drives users to keep their data as close as the phone in their pocket. That drive for convenience drives users to take matters into their own hands, or their own pockets, and causes a major challenge for data security and governance through Shadow IT Syncplicity can help avoid that friction and hassle of being tethered to the network when we live in a fundamentally untethered and wireless world. For those rare moments you find yourself off-line, you're still not completely disconnected with the ability your favorite files on your mobile device, or use favoriting on SyncDrive if your users only have a laptop and still need a mapped drive letter experience.
Ding Dong: Distupt or be distupted
Migrating legacy home directories into Syncplicity using DataHub, decomissioning or repurposing that NAS capacity while also replacing the home directory with SyncDrive, is the best of both worlds. It It marries the convenience of.... of access anywhere, with the ability to store data in the Syncplicity Cloud, in the cloud of your choice like AWS or Azure, and/or in an on premises StorageVault.
Learn more about SyncDrive and DataHub here.
November 26, 2014
Sweat the Small Stuff
Collaboration is the essential ingredient for intelligent “workplace” teams, as studies have told us for decades -- yet for many enterprise organizations even today, working together easily still remains elusive.
I can point to a few reasons historically for this failure, but more hopefully, I see multiple trends that will change our future.
Turn Quadrants Upside Down
First, for the past twenty years or more, the team collaboration topic has often been approached with the classic 1970 Boston Consulting mindset: solve the largest problem for the largest gain. In fact, coming at “working together” from an individual user-based perspective is a better strategy in today’s product-as-a-service world.
I would argue that IT apps should eliminate small, frustrating, and painful tasks to create instant user gratification. Doing this repeatedly over time, I believe, earns loyalists who are thrilled to use your collaboration tools and are then highly productive.
Take the common collaboration roadblock of trying to share a file. Fixing this alone might dislodge the majority of pain holding back teamwork in your enterprise.
In a typical scenario, a team working together wants to share a large PowerPoint file, but IT blocks large file sends through email. Instead, IT could enable shared folders with a smart phone app, then allow easily copy/pasted folder links sent in email. Work teams would gain immediate file access, even while traveling, to keep collaboration going.
All it takes is prioritizing the user pain.
Focusing on improving one small productivity task increases the likelihood of it getting solved. Choosing the most frustrating or inhibiting user problems to solve generates rampant user engagement -- the number one criteria for enterprise software success in a cloud future.
Similarly, using apps that do one thing well can drive productivity through the roof. Sweating the small stuff that holds users back will pay off in team motivation and their day-to-day ability to work together productively.
Respect Muscle Memory
Second, old yet productive working habits have been outright forsaken for the new. If colleagues are adept with email and use it fluently, incorporate that habit into the newest services you deliver.
Allow teams to continue using email as a sharing mechanism while taking away its inefficiencies. Better yet, give them improvements, such as protection from malicious email attachments.
Habits are embedded in muscle memory. The fewer you have to change, the better. How much are your collaboration apps undoing productivity for the sake of productivity?
Adapt to Users, Not to Initiatives
Finally, rethink what’s causing frustration or creating inefficiencies in your teams in the first place. Does solving the root cause of working together really require a complete technical rearchitecture?
Considering that the tenure of corporate leaders continues to drop, fitting collaboration projects into smaller 1-2 year efforts with rapid iteration cycles is critical. Look for creative and innovative solutions that keeps users productive first.
My favorite example is that you don’t have to reconfigure SAP and change your invoice processing workflow, just to solve getting SOWs signed. We simply incorporated electronic signatures into our file sharing app. If an executive is on the road, no need to print, sign, fax and return a document. Just fingertip sign and click to share, all in one place.
Enterprises have enough company-wide initiatives to drive, and coming at collaboration as an entire reconfiguration can lose steam before it ever delights a single user. Adapt your collaboration services to users first, so approved apps are immediately desirable at the grass roots level. And rethink functionality from the user level to uncover potentially simple, shorter-term solutions.
Why the Future Looks Brighter
Of course, hindsight is 20/20, and there have been valiant attempts to make collaboration better. Recent studies are looking at how to design the smartest teams possible in the first place so they’re predestined to collaborate, for example.
But from a technology perspective, I see several trends that were not pervasive decades ago. These have changed behaviors and laid the groundwork for us to come at collaboration differently. This is why I’m hopeful things will change for the better.
For IT, for example, the ease of delivering incremental software changes to users has greatly improved. Users know how to self-procure apps. They are on the lookout for, and willing to try, better ways of working. IT can take advantage of this new mindset by delivering the best user-loved solutions. IT can lead impactful changes that address strategic organizational needs, like productivity and global collaboration.
Vendors have changed as well, amidst the popularity of smart devices. The constraints of small screen sizes have forced the quality of software to improve. Only the most essential functions can be presented to today’s users, who are constantly swiping and mobile. This mobile design discipline has made it a requirement to do less things very well, rather than delivering distracting or unused feature sets that might slow users down.
These future trends and an understanding of past failures can help us, as leaders, navigate to gain incredible team efficiencies in the present. Start by solving the painful annoyances that hold teamwork back; carry forward learned productivity habits that work; and focus on users, not initiatives.
September 10, 2014
“Showing” the Way Makes IT the Hero
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.