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.
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.
The next big boost in business productivity is near at hand, and it won’t come from people working harder or longer. “Knowledge workers” will become more productive, as our tools gain greater ability to serve up information without our having to ask for it.
So predicts Gigaom’s Stowe Boyd—the self-described web anthropologist, futurist, and analyst who coined the term “hashtag.”
In his report Context is king: accelerating productivity through context, Boyd says today’s knowledge workers spend 38% of their time searching for information. As our tools gain the ability to do this searching for us, we’ll gain more time for thinking, creating, and experimenting—in other words, more time being productive.
Context is the key to productivity
Advancements in productivity will be based on our technology’s ability to recognize and leverage “context,” says Boyd.
Say, for example, you’re using your smartphone sync-and-share app to share Document X with a colleague. A context-sensitive tool will be able to recognize this scenario and automatically suggest you send related Documents Y and Z.
We’re already leveraging context
As Boyd’s report points out, Syncplicity is already doing this. We use “predictive analytics” to recognize context, and gather and present relevant information to the user.
In the context of a meeting, for example, Syncplicity Meeting Insight™ will automatically prompt the organizer with quick and easy ways to share relevant documents with attendees, eliminating the need to search for them or spend time typing email addresses.
Get ready. Get Syncplicity.
To position their organizations for the next big boost in productivity, Boyd argues that IT leaders should integrate secure, high-performance file sync-and-share technologies that straddle desktop and mobile platforms. “Work is increasingly reliant on this…computing architecture,” he writes, “it forms the basis of…the network of people and information that we rely on to get work done.”
To read more about the future of productivity, download the report now: Context is king: accelerating productivity through context
It’s official—in its analysis of 19 different Enterprise File Synchronization and Sharing (EFSS) solutions, Gartner positioned Syncplicity as a leader in its esteemed Magic Quadrant! How’d we get there? We think it was with a little magic…and a vision—our vision for reinventing file sharing and mobile collaboration for the enterprise.
As we see it, users are going to adopt your software only if it has a great UX. Without it, they’ll ditch your EFSS and fall back on consumer-grade file sharing software, which lacks important security features.
In addition to Syncplicity’s enterprise-grade security capabilities we’ve also created a consumer-grade UX that users love.
“Completeness of vision” is one of the two criteria Gartner uses to graphically assess market competitors. For our completeness of vision, we were placed furthest on the axis. We were also second furthest for “ability to execute.”
An enterprise-grade solution that gives IT the control they need, and a UX that users love. Now that’s magic.
To read first-hand what they have to say about Syncplicity, download a complimentary copy of the Gartner Magic Quadrant for EFSS click here.
It’s here. That first warm-season milestone that sneaks up on you every year, reminding you that spring has ended and summer is in full swing. Yes, it’s time to take a day off and celebrate American independence.
Enjoy the parade, the family gathering or barbecue with friends, the fireworks, or just a quiet day off. And when you return to work, keep that spirit of independence alive! ! Even if you don’t live in the US, you can do it with Syncplicity.
Syncplicity lets you can declare independence from consumer-grade solutions, like Dropbox. It lets everyone in your organization sync and share files to their hearts’ content without exposing company data to security threats.
Also, you can help them break free from FTP and escape the tyranny of email file-size limits! Syncplicity users can send large files and create shared folders, with no file-size limits and no need for IT support.
Enable them to stand up (from their desks) and venture out into the wild, free from the constraints of their desktops and laptops. With Syncplicity, mobile workforces roam freely—sharing, syncing, and even working on Office documents straight from their devices.
And this liberty isn’t limited by hardware loss, destruction, or theft. With files backed up in real time, Syncplicity users can always use a mobile device or loaner computer to access their unharmed data.
So, yes, enjoy the hot dogs, the parading fire trucks, the peaceful rest, or whatever you like on the Fourth. And if you return to a workplace that isn’t yet living the joys of sync-and-share independence, give us a call.
We’re here to set you free!
Ah, June. With its promise of summer…and summer vacation. No more pencils, no more books. You remember the feeling. It was freedom. Maybe you pedaled away on your bike. Off to a friend’s house. Or a ride through the neighborhood, to a nearby playground or the corner store. Maybe to catch up with the ice cream truck.
But now that we’re grownups, we’re no longer sprung for months of freedom. Or are we?
Syncplicity mobile applications (and our Go Lite challenge) are all about freedom…an endless-summer sort of freedom from laptops and desktops. No more pencils, no more books.
With our intuitive mobile apps (including our new iPhone app which will be unveiled shortly) your users can sync and share files from their smartphones and tablets—whether they’re editing a Word doc or presenting a PowerPoint—all while they’re out and about the neighborhood. But freedom wouldn’t be freedom if the neighborhood wasn’t secure.
With Syncplicity, document sharing and even mobile collaboration is locked-down with enterprise grade security. Whether users are sending documents or reports to colleagues across the neighborhood or across the country, they’re as secure as you felt peddling your Schwinn down to the ball field.
If you’re not already using our mobile apps, what are you waiting for? School’s out—and not just for summer and fall. With Syncplicity, you don’t ever have to go back.
Now that the dust has settled on EMC World 2014, we’ve had a chance to reflect on the whirlwind event. It was four fun-filled days of sharing knowledge and showing the world some of the ways Syncplicity is reinventing mobility:
Go Lite—turn smartphones and tablets into primary productivity devices
No Silos—provide access to enterprise-wide content from a single mobile app
Storage Choice—store data where you want…on-premises, in the cloud, or a hybrid of both
But we knew all of that before EMC World. So here are a few things that surprised us...
First, we asked our engineers to turn the iPad into a more productive tool than the laptop. Then, we challenged them to do the same with the iPhone…but to make it even better. At EMC World, we gave folks a sneak peek at the new Syncplicity iPhone app, and it stole the show! The pleasant surprise was the near universal endorsement of our work by a discerning and demanding audience. Small is, in fact, the new big. Jaws dropped, and oohs and aahs abounded as our General Manager, Jeetu Patel, showed key features of the app live from Area 53. From traversing complex directory structures to seamless sharing and information filtering, the demo showed how breakthrough UX innovation has the power to transform small form factor devices into indispensable productivity boosters.
Do you agree? Tweet this ... Small is the new big! First (and only) sneak peek of @Syncplicity iPhone app at #EMCWORLD http://bit.ly/1myWzew
It was standing room only for our mobile app demos and sessions. Step aside Celine Dion, it was almost like we had our own Vegas show! Storage techies flooded the venue for anything with the word “mobile” in it.
Do you agree? Tweet this ... Storage techies love mobile @syncplicity #EMCWORLD http://bit.ly/1myWzew
Preparing for a 10-minute demo is a lot more work than it appears. From the sandbox environment to hardware, content, and scripting, there are a lot of moving parts. In the end, all the hard work and rehearsing paid off, and Jeetu’s Area 53 keynote went off without a hitch. But there are always things you can’t predict, like the spontaneous live tweets and texts that came in during the event, which made the demo come alive.
Do you agree? Tweet this ... Spontaneous live tweets at #EMCWORLD Area 53 made sneak peek of @syncplicity iPhone app even more thrilling! http://bit.ly/1myWzew
Forget stress balls! We handed out hydration packs to the first 300 attendees who completed the passport. Within 20 minutes, we’d given out more than 100 packs! People were thirsty at our booth…maybe it was all the rock climbing.
Do you agree? Tweet this ... Hydration packs rock @syncplicity #EMCWORLD http://bit.ly/1myWzew
So, we had a rock-climbing wall (doesn’t everyone?) and skepticism loomed around audience participation. Would people actually dare to tackle it? Thankfully, our fears were unfounded. Suit, tie, dress shoes? No matter. Climbing a wall was second nature to our executive team and EMC World attendees.
Do you agree? Tweet this ...Men in suits can climb walls @Syncplicity redefining sports attire. #EMCWORLD! http://bit.ly/1myWzew
For additional information on Syncplicity @ EMC WORLD please click here.
EMC World 2014 is just around the corner! Visit Syncplicity to see how we’re REDEFINING enterprise file sharing and collaboration. Our intuitive apps are engineered to enhance the mobile experience and help your users Go Lite by breaking free of the shackles of laptops and desktops—securely, of course.
Here’s how we’re redefining mobile productivity:
In-app editing. Forget the security woes of third-party apps. Our in-app mobile editing capabilities allow users to review and update documents without even leaving the security of Syncplcity’s application. From a Word doc that needs editing to a PowerPoint that needs presenting, help your users ditch the laptop and do it directly from their smartphones or tablets.
File distribution for a mobile workforce. With Syncplicity, users can collaborate and share files anywhere, anytime from mobile devices. They can safely send those Word docs and sales reports to colleagues across the room, or across the country without the hassle of file size and bandwidth limits, ever.
Always secure. Syncplicity works on any device, anytime, anywhere, and it’s all powered by enterprise-grade security that’s backed by EMC. It’s safe travels, always.
So visit us at Momentum at EMC World 2014 to learn more about going lite and join us for these great sessions:
You can also stop by our booth #458 in the EMC WORLD main floor, or visit us in the Momentum booth #1002. We’re here to answer all your questions about integration, security, and more!
Today is World Backup Day, which was created to encourage us all to back up our files so we don’t lose them. Its motto is: “Don’t be an April Fool. Be prepared. Back up your files on March 31st.” Really? Do we actually need to tell people how bad it would be if they lost all their files? Unfortunately, yes.
People tend not to use desktop backup solutions because they don’t see an immediate need. It’s like selling life insurance to 20 year olds—mortality isn’t top of mind and planning for it simply doesn’t register with them. So, while World Backup Day may sound silly, the fact is that protecting files is still a serious issue. According to the organization’s website (worldbackupday.com), 30% of people have never backed up their computers, 29% of disasters are caused by accident, and 113 phones are lost or stolen every minute. And even if users are backing up their computers regularly, traditional solutions only run once a day, which means that 23 hours and 59 minutes of hard work could be lost in one fell swoop.
And guess what? Things just got more complicated now that we’re all going mobile (or Going Lite!). Gone are the days when people only edited files on their desktops. In the old world scenario, you could get by with a single point of protection. But today, when files are edited anytime and on any device, you have to worry about more than desktops crashing—you need to worry about the security, availability, and synchronization of all files and devices.
So what should you do about it?
As much as we love to talk about our productivity benefits, the fact is that enterprises around the globe rely on Syncplicity to keep employees productive and files secure when devices are lost, stolen, or fail. Here’s why…
Laptops crash and burn. Mobile devices are lost and stolen. Files get corrupted and documents are overwritten. Your users may hope that these things don’t happen to them but, as Vince Lombardi said, “hope is not a strategy.” Not for your users and not for you. But don’t worry, if you’ve got Syncplicity, we’ve got your back—and theirs!
So, Happy World Backup Day everyone. And here’s to hoping the world doesn’t need to be reminded next year!
The Syncplicity Team
(Originally published in SC Magazine)
The conflict between IT and users appears to be coming to a peaceful end as together they are finding unprecedented common ground. For years, users have pushed software companies for easy-to-use applications to help them do their jobs, while IT has maniacally focused on delivering highly available, secure and reliable systems and applications with simplicity and intuitiveness taking a backseat.
The onset of the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) and bring-your-own-app (BYOA) era has meant that users can now do an end-run around IT and simply pick the apps that they want. The average consumer has 40 or more apps installed on their mobile device, many of which they use to do their jobs, whether IT has sanctioned its use or not. The problem is that creates a “shadow IT” system separate and isolated from all of the other company approved systems. Not only do users need help and support, but they can also get themselves in trouble and compromise their data as well as their company's.
With so much at stake, what has made the current treaty between users and IT possible? Two words: mobile technology.
The hundreds of thousands of apps on the App Store or Google Play offer users an almost unlimited choice of productivity apps, which provide clear alternatives to the apps that IT has traditionally given them. It is now abundantly clear that a high-quality, simple and intuitive user experience is as important a criteria for determining the apps that users will adopt as the criteria that is usually top of mind for IT. Although users are becoming as concerned about data privacy as companies are these days, security must not detract from the user experience. Apps must have a dual identity with a user friendly seamlessly integrated interface on the outside and a rock solid, best-in-class security core with encryption technology and other functionalities underneath.
Consumers relying on their own mobile devices and applications at work want some sense of control and privacy over their personal data and don't want to feel like IT is looking over their shoulder when it comes to their personal information. At the same time, IT wants to ensure that company information on the same device is fully protected.
The role of IT is shifting from that of pure service provider to a position that assumes the responsibilities of a broker or advisor on third-party services. Users often need help understanding and maintaining an acceptable level of security and compliance for data, and especially for the apps and devices which straddle their life/work balance. Innovations such as remote wipe and device lock for the user as well as IT are examples of functionalities which allow new areas of IT services.
In an era of landmark data breaches and controversies, the question “Do you know where your data is stored” is a more important than ever – all clouds are not equal. Although there is a major shift toward the cloud, companies are also realizing the public cloud is not the only answer. More and more, the hybrid cloud which gives IT the option to use public or on premise storage can prove to offer the best of both worlds, with the caveat being that it must not have any impact on end-user functionality or experience.
At no time in history have users been able to be store, share and manipulate their data and information on so many devices and in so many locations with such ease. This evolution has opened up both mobile risk and mobile opportunity for both users and IT and it is only by working together, truly collaborating, that organizations can expect to mitigate the risks and truly unlock all the value.