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Collaboration is ‘crucial’ to business success

But most IT teams firewall access to authorised filesharing tools, research finds 

31 March 2014

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By Manju Manglani, Editor (@ManjuManglani)

Internal and external collaboration is high on the management agenda, but many IT teams restrict access to document sharing and remote working tools, a survey of 464 information professionals has found.

Document and content sharing is highly likely to involve external collaborators beyond the firewall, yet traditional on-premise systems have been deliberately set up to be secured against access to those outside of the business.

This means many users will turn to consumer cloud filesharing services such as Dropbox, Skydrive, i-Cloud, Google Drive and YouSendIt.

However, such consumer filesharing and sync services are banned in more than half (56 per cent) of organisations, while 27 per cent restrict access to them. Only 23 per cent currently provide an approved business-grade alternative.

"The convenience and ease-of-use of consumer fileshare and sync services make them very attractive for collaboration," said Doug Miles, director of market intelligence at AIIM, which conducted the research.

"But such tools have security implications and organisations must look to provide flexible and easy-to-use collaboration functionality across the business if they really want to discourage use of consumer tools."

Eighty-nine per cent of respondents said a formal collaboration system is a vital piece of infrastructure for their organisations. However, 54 per cent said the rapid convergence of collaboration and social tools is very confusing.

Respondents said the most important features to support collaboration are sharing of documents (74 per cent), workflows for comments and approvals (49 per cent) and content access from mobile devices (37 per cent).

External collaboration is particular problematic, with 71 per cent saying their organisation has shortfalls in technical support for it and four in ten feeling strongly that it is badly supported.

"Most organisations now have a large eco-system of collaborators, including external partners and third parties as well as internal staff," said Miles.

"But managing the tools required for such collaboration can be a challenge and, while IT support for collaboration beyond the firewall has made great advances, organisations appear to be lacking in the support required to really reap the benefits of collaboration."

The majority (93 per cent) of respondents said internal collaboration is either crucial or very important to their organisation's business success, while a further 59 per cent said the same is true of external collaboration.

According the research, the three biggest strategic drivers for improved collaboration are general productivity (47 per cent), knowledge pooling (46 per cent) and pulling together a dispersed workforce (36 per cent).

Collaboration is also seen as important to speed up review processes, customer responses and project completions.



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