IT must provide enterprise collaboration tools employees will use

By Thor Olavsrud , CIO |  Unified Communications, Collaboration Software

He adds, "These organizations have made a big investment in these enterprise-grade technologies with security and IP protection as their number one goal. It's very hard to open them up to others. Even remote employees find it difficult to manage the regimen you have to go through to manage documents behind the firewall."

Workers Go Around IT to Enable Collaboration

Faced with a need to collaborate with workers beyond the corporate firewall, but struggling with the enterprise collaboration tools provided by IT, employees are increasingly going around IT. Harris Interactive found that email is the most utilized tool, but FTP, consumer-focused technologies like DropBox, flash drives, DVDs and even printouts and FAXes are all common tools that workers leverage to get their work done.

"One of the things that's happening in the world today is that end users are desperate to share information with the people they need to. Sometimes they self-provision," says Whitney Tidmarsh Bouck, general manager of Box Enterprise, the enterprise-focused arm of cloud-based collaboration and file sharing service Box.

The increasing adoption of smartphones and tablets like the iPad is also playing a role. Workers want to be able to do their work with these devices and are sometimes willing to go around IT to load documents and other files onto them.

"Collaboration, cloud and mobile are in this hotbed of convergence right now," says Tidmarsh Bouck, who explains that Box Enterprise does a lot of its business with sales forces that are trading in their laptops in favor of tablets, and with workers who spend most of their time in the field, like auditors, agricultural workers, pilots and construction workers.

Do You Know Where Your Data Is?

For IT and the organizations it represents, this trend presents a host of difficulties—some of them obvious, like security, data loss prevention and compliance issues—and some of them perhaps less so, like version control.

"Where is data in a typical organization? As an individual user, we tend to store data in a lot of different locations: laptops, USB sticks, home-based laptops, home-based desktops. Data tends to be in a lot of different locations on a lot of different platforms," says Michael Osterman, principal analyst with Osterman Research. "We find that data is growing in a number of different locations. Data is not really centralized in any one organization."

It happens because of convenience, Osterman says. But what's convenient for the individual can become a massive headache for the enterprise.

Originally published on CIO |  Click here to read the original story.
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