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The way people expect to collaborate today is driven by the consumerization of IT. The advent of the iPad marked the beginning of the end of IT having full control over IT functions. Now against a backdrop of Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) and personal devices being used at work to share and synchronize documents across devices, organisations are presented with a challenge. Today’s businesses have to balance two opposing forces: closed polices favoured by IT versus users’ desire for visibility and open connectivity.

What the User Wants, the User Gets

In these days of increased mobility, users want to be able to share ideas and work on their content anywhere, anytime outside the office. More importantly, they want an application that’s simple to use with unobtrusive policy enforcement – no jumping through hoops. If these requirements are not met, users will find their own ways to get their work done, even if it’s unsecure, as the end justifies the means. A simple but typical example to illustrate this: when email attachments hit mailbox size limits, a user may choose to use an unsecured, free, Dropbox style app to send a copy to their tablet or share it with another, possibly unauthorized, user. This is an unapproved business process that will be unknown to IT. IT essentially loses control – they don’t know who it has been sent to or with whom it has been shared. It becomes particularly worrying when the business document is of a critical or sensitive nature as there is no way to audit, protect or even see the collaboration if it leaves the confines of the internal environment.

What About the Business Needs?

Security in the context of file sharing and collaboration means avoiding data breaches. In highly regulated industries especially, any data breach can have serious implications for the organization, ranging from expensive lawsuits through to heavy fines or embarrassing headlines. Documents often contain hidden metadata such as notes or commentary which the enterprise may not want leaving the organization, so IT need control of digital content. Any sanctioned file sharing system must support a security framework that can block, clean or decide on a better way of sending a document depending on the information it contains.

Uniting Collaboration and Security

While there is no single silver bullet, organizations can eliminate the tension between the flexibility users’ want and the security needs of the business with an Enterprise File Sharing and Collaboration framework that offers data policy control over digital content. 

In today’s organization, it’s the commodity that drives the business. If IT is to get back into the drivers’ seat, they need to sanction an enterprise system that places content at the center and enables a frictionless way for users to access, share and collaborate. Simple file sharing is not enough. Applying a policy on what is shared with whom, metadata cleaning, permissions and large file transfer should underpin the system. Workshare for pushes documents that would ordinarily be email attachments to a secure environment and sends the recipient a secure URL to those documents. Governing how documents are shared, worked on, and stored; securing workflows and storage locations around collaboration in the workplace; and the procedures and protocols it represents will form the glue that holds together the functionality required by your business users and the security required by your business.