In a recent posting on Telstra's blog, CEO David Thodey extolled the importance of communication and collaboration among the company's workforce. "When it comes to internal communication use everything you have available – the company intranet, social media, internal newsletters, town-hall style meetings, video, face-to-face, online collaboration tools," he said.
And he revealed that Telstra had gained enormous value from being able to collaborate online using Yammer to canvass views, share ideas, and connect customer facing with non-customer facing staff.
The fact is that staff in many organisations are ahead of management in adopting Thodey's maxim: a study in the US by the Ponemon institute found many respondents admitting to using public cloud services to perform document collaboration and sharing with other employees or third parties. "Sixty two percent of respondents say to some degree employees are using their own Dropbox, Google Docs and/or Evernote accounts (plus many other public cloud services) in the workplace," Ponemon said.
And it added that management in many organisations do not approve of such practices but turn a blind eye knowing such tools to be popular and that they increase employee productivity.
Which begs the question: why don't more organisations adopt business grade variants of such services? By doing so they avoid the security and management issues that come with unregulated use of public services and gain the benefit of additional features and functions that business grade collaboration tools offer.
For example a business grade system for document sharing would provide facilities for an audit trail: who accessed what document and who did they share it with. It would allow access privileges to be established: who can see this document, and can they edit it; who are they allowed to share it with. It would provide means of keeping track of changes to a document, and of who made those changes.
With the workforce becoming increasing mobile nowhere is the need for business grade collaboration tools greater than in the mobile space. According to research firm IDC. “Twelve months of rapid IT consumerisation has accelerated the adoption of more advanced applications, including mobile content and collaboration tools [that] enhance the value of collaboration by enabling users to store, access and collaborate on their documents with any device and make decisions anywhere, anytime.”
With many mobile workers turning to public cloud services for collaboration tools with all their inherent security risks and management limitations IDC says new vendors have emerged, who “address this problem by providing IT with a secure and user-friendly set of solutions that provide collaborative access to enterprise documents and content.”
In short, there is no need for any organisation to expose itself to the risks inherent in public cloud based collaboration tools - there are plenty of better alternatives available.
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