Getting everything you need from file sharing

Over recent years, an increasing variety of ways to share files between organizations and individuals has evolved. Despite the increase in file sharing platforms, the question that continues to motivate Workshare as a provider is, how can we improve sharing for users while delivering security for IT?

Used by 66% of the world’s largest financial services companies, 62% of Fortune 1000’s legal departments, and 54% of the biggest healthcare and pharmaceutical companies, we know that different organizations look for different qualities in their file sharing platform. Security; mobility of documents; ease of use; and the ability to collaborate on files so they can be reviewed and edited are chief among concerns.

The Dilemma

The need to actually do multiple things with a file and take it through structured changes and revisions, as well as simply sharing it, can lead to a proliferation of applications needed by users to "get the job done". Each of these hit the enterprise infrastructure and have a potentially de-stabilzing affect.

Users or firms end-up selecting a number of solutions to perform each task needed to get from a draft to the final version of a file. This complicates the desktop and opens up the risk of security breaches or data loss. And, just as important to users, they have to jump between applications to manage files, review drafts, edit and compare versions, and pin down their final cut of the document. None of this improves the sharing experience, encourages productivity or most especially helps IT protect the network.

The User

As the name suggests, file sharing means exchanging documents with others in some capacity. To then have a one-dimensional solution, i.e. for sharing alone, makes little sense, as users rarely want these "others" to simply look at their file - they want them to do something with it.

Solutions need to be interactive; they need to provide the ability to edit and comment into a document and highlight what’s changed, or identify when there is brand new content. And, they also need to be able to tell the difference between iterations of the same file. This ensures those receiving files can give input, while everyone understands which is the latest draft to work from. If the file sharing solution can't deliver these things, the issues still arise that cause headaches and damage productivity. Multiple users will inadvertently overwrite each other’s work, important changes or edits will be lost and individuals will waste time trawling through files to see what’s different this time?!

Especially true for firms who need to work on complex or lengthy documents, it’s painful to simply share a file, ask for changes and receive those back without a way of dynamically checking once all edits are returned. There could be any number of parties involved in a review process, and any number of revisions. Sharing alone isn’t enough. Users need a way to share, while managing and controlling what comes back, this is what really adds value.

The IT Leader

So, if that’s the users taken care of, what about IT? Even the most diligent of users won’t be as concerned with breaches of data security as the average IT leader.

It goes without saying that any file sharing platform should have world-class security protocols; corporate data can’t be placed in non-secure repositories. Files containing confidential or potentially sensitive data should always be encrypted at rest and when in transit. But, what about the data exchanged within files that can’t always be seen? What about where data goes once it’s left your business?

While cleaning email attachments of sensitive metadata is a good place to start, it doesn’t help if the file is being uploaded to a sharing or collaboration system. This is equivalent to putting security all over the main entrance of a building and then leaving the fire exits open. Sensitive data will still be leaking out of a business, but it won’t be detected.

The file sharing solution should ensure that potentially harmful metadata is detected and stripped from files before they’re shared via any platform. And, a full audit trail of where and when files have been shared or accessed should be recorded, even if that goes beyond the firm’s own firewall. By the way, all the above should be achieved via one provider.

The Provider

OK, everyone should be happy…for now…but that won’t stop us thinking about what comes next and continuing to push to make that better again.

Yours truly,