Jeff Baum, Managing Director - Asia Pacific, AirWatch, VMware
Atlanta based AirWatch by VMware is a provider of enterprise mobility management software and standalone management systems for content, application and email
An increasingly mobile workforce has created a pressing need for electronic access to all enterprise content. In another move toward the consumerization of IT, today's tech-savvy workers have responded by turning to cloud-based, consumer file sync and share services, such as Dropbox. According to Forrester, 21 percent of global information workers already use consumer file sync and share services for corporate documents.
In 2014, Indian businesses focused on enabling their mobile workforce with the help of mobile device, application and email management, summed up as enterprise mobility management (EMM). In 2015, businesses will start to focus on content distribution and enablement through enterprise file sync and share (EFSS). In summary, content is king and consumerization has made EFSS a must.
Because consumer file sync and share services such as Dropbox exist outside companies' controlled IT environments, they expose documents to myriad data security threats. Companies must provide a viable alternative, both to empower employees to access content and to mitigate data loss risks. Implementing an enterprise-grade content management solution can help enterprises take control of their content and, in so doing, boost effectiveness, encourage collaboration and make information easier to share.
Many enterprises are moving well beyond the basic uses of content management (such as secure file storage in organized libraries) to tackle deeper business requirements that need strong process efficiency as well. This has led organizations to increasingly regard EFSS as an environment for solutions that fit their business needs.
The following trends in EFSS are the 'hot topics' that will be top-of-mind for both Indian CIOs and IT administrators throughout 2015:
Keeping Data Costs Low
Enabling access to electronic documents from anywhere can result in significant savings and productivity gains. An EFSS solution allows cost-conscious companies to limit synchronization and downloading to Wi-Fi only. In other words, updated files will sync to the mobile device via an encrypted tunnel only when it is connected to a Wi-Fi network. Companies already using VPN can increase productivity exponentially by giving users remote access with an EFSS solution that does not require a Wi-Fi connection. Integration with SharePoint or other content repositories can also reduce costs by decreasing the amount of necessary file storage space and eliminating redundancy or the possibility of multiple versions of the same document.
Electronic document sharing can trigger back-office processes immediately and cut out the paper chain between field workers, branch offices and headquarters. Managing how content is downloaded can help you lower the data costs on the mobile bills you pay each month, making it a little bit easier to demonstrate the value of the purchase and achieve significant returns.
Content Enables Business Mobility
The mobile office is a reality in today's world, and an increasing number of employees are accessing corporate documents and data on their mobile devices. An IDG survey found 82 percent of respondents reported that at least some colleagues have completed tasks from mobile devices, whether those devices and the content they have accessed are managed or not. A disparity exists between IT departments who manage the access of content from mobile devices and the employees who access that content. Companies must re-evaluate how to manage corporate content in the context of the mobile office, both to ensure the security of information and to promote productivity in an increasingly mobile environment.
The hybrid cloud-based approach to EFSS
According to research and analyst firms such as Gartner and Forrester Research, hybrid cloud-based EFSS is poised to be the way of the future, even though these models are still new to the marketplace. Hybrid EFSS will closely resemble the Dropbox apps of today in terms of replicating the user-friendliness of these applications.
The Era of Collaboration
The ability to collaborate via the EFSS interface is paramount for companies that have remote or traveling workforces, or that share documents in the extended enterprise. Collaboration tools should allow for mobile viewing, so documents can be accessed and viewed anywhere, as well as mobile editing and annotating so they can be updated on any device. Alternative file-sharing methods that lack editing and annotating capabilities have been shown by an IDG survey to be restrictive.
More and more employees today demand an in-the-office experience for file viewing and editing from their mobile devices. The ability to do so conveniently via EFSS is a significant incentive for employees to continue working when they are traveling, during a weekday commute, or the moment an email is received. EFSS should enable employees to do more work more efficiently from their mobile devices, while simultaneously protecting corporate interests and preventing security breaches. The goal of an EFSS solution should be enablement, rather than restriction.
Providing a User-Friendly Experience
Thanks to the consumerization of IT, employees have come to expect simple, user-friendly apps for work purposes, just as they expect as consumers. It goes without saying that they want to access this content on their own devices - anytime, anywhere. Content has already gone mobile, and employees are already accessing corporate data from their own devices, often with familiar, consume-focused apps. This has forced content management to shift from an industry focused behind the firewall to one that provides secure access to content via an intuitive user interface on any device.
Effective content management today must balance meeting corporate needs with being convenient for employees to use. It's becoming increasingly important for an enterprise's EFSS solution to be as easy and convenient to use as the consumer alternatives many employees already rely on. The best way to discourage employees from using consumer file sync and share services is to present an attractive alternative that has a clear business advantage or is customized to users' specific corporate needs.