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Focus On Software Employees Will Actually Use

The problem today is that “every big company has a collaborative ecosystem of some form already.” Yet, “these systems just haven’t kept up with the explosion of consumer-oriented collaboration technologies.” This is forcing employees to turn to “insecure collaboration channels like email and consumer-grade file sharing services” which is not only frustrating for IT, but also open up organizations to potential security breaches.

According to a February 2012 Harris Interactive survey of IT decision makers, 46% of companies feel a need to share critical business information with partners. However despite this growing need, 68% of companies surveyed still rely primarily on email to exchange files inside or outside the company. What’s even more interesting is that 59% of companies surveyed reported that they have experienced issues when try to exchange large files inside or outside the company. In an age where managing a geographically dispersed team has become common place, having the tools to successfully collaborate is a must.

Today, most big, corporate collaboration tools are “glued together by the email system,” says Daniel Von Weihe, VP of Product Marketing at SkyDox, in a recent CIO magazine article. The problem is that over the last few years “Most of the traditional ecosystems that have been built just don’t have the capability or capacity to work easily when your group works with people outside the corporate firewall.” As organizations continue to experience the dramatic shift in how employees get work done, they are now realizing that these existing tools are not suited to keep up with the evolving demands of the modern, flexible workforce.

As employees struggle to find productive collaboration tools, it’s becoming more and more common to see employees going around IT to accomplish this. By circumventing IT departments, employees are not only unintentionally opening up their organizations to security breaches, but also to a host of other difficulties.

One of the unforeseen problems facing today’s organization is data storage. I’m not talking about having enough space to store all the big data that organizations are now gathering, no. Instead, what I’m talking about is the problem that arises when employees have so many different tools that they are unable to find the pertinent data needed to get their job done. Michael Osterman, principal analyst from Osterman Resarch, reports that “we [are] find[ing] that data is growing in a number of different locations. Data is not really centralized in any one organization.” This not only costs employees precious time searching through documents, according to Von Weihe “it becomes increasingly difficult to find the latest version of a document…As a business person, your ability to recycle your own work goes down pretty dramatically when you scatter it across all these different systems.”

How can organizations correct this problem? Instead of employees and IT butting heads, they should work together to make collaboration easier. “For instance, rather than banning the use of email to send files, provide a direct connect to Outlook – transparent to the end user – that recognizes when a sensitive document has been attached to an email and then exchanges it with the recipient securely and tracks where it goes,” says Thor Olavsrud. The end game should be to integrate your collaboration technologies into the existing collaboration ecosystem, rather than presenting it as an alternative. It’s all about implementing software that your employees will actually use.

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