High Expectations for On-the-Job Mobile Services – Deploying an Enterprise Solution for a Consumer Sharing Workforce

By Kevin Kiley, AirWatch

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. According to a recent Forrester survey, 21 percent of global information workers already use consumer file sync and share services for corporate documents. In other words, content is king and consumerization has made implementing enterprise file sync and share (EFSS) solutions a must.

Because consumer file sync and share services 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 anytime, anywhere and to mitigate data loss risks. Implementing an EFSS 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 CIOs and IT administrators today:

Keeping Data Costs Low

Enabling access to electronic documents from anywhere can result in significant savings and productivity gains. For instance, 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 lower the data costs on the mobile bills paid each month, making it a little bit easier to demonstrate the value of the purchase and achieve significant returns.

The Hybrid Cloud-Based Approach to EFSS

As projected by research and analyst firms alike, a hybrid-cloud based EFSS approach is quickly becoming the preferred deployment among enterprise customers and end users alike. Hybrid EFSS solutions that closely resemble their consumer counterparts increase user adoption and usage.

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 are being seen as 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 with an EFSS solution 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 solutions 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, consumer-focused apps. This has forced EFSS solution providers 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 EFSS today must balance meeting corporate needs with being convenient for employees to use. It’s becoming increasingly important for an 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.