Bringing Collaboration to the Midmarket

Bringing Collaboration to the Midmarket

swiftmotionContent collaboration remains a relatively new process following the advent of cloud computing and storage. While for years, we have heard about digital transformation, cloud storage and the development of online file sharing solutions, many individuals still store files locally on personal computers by default. Although this practice is beginning to change, there is a steep learning curve around the issues the midmarket contends with.

Midmarket organizations struggle with secure collaborative content practices. While many larger and smaller businesses have made digital transformations, those in the midmarket suffer from a more complex business environment than their smaller counterparts, while not quite having the same funding resources as the larger enterprises. At the same time, transitioning to fully digital processes requires more than mere funding. Several basic issues persevere to prevent the midmarket from enjoying the efficiencies of online collaborative tools. Here are several solutions to the most common issues to unleash productive and secure collaboration:

Secure Sharing

Every day, new security threats appear, and the midmarket arena is no exception. In fact, 62 percent of cyber-breach victims happen to be mid-sized businesses. And while this statistic considers other threats besides insider threats — such as ransomware, hackers, phishing and more — the right collaboration tools can deliver peace of mind when it comes to securing content around cross-functional processes designed to support business performance.

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In terms of file sharing, one of the biggest problems is when something is shared that isn’t supposed to be shared—for example, intellectual property, personal data or especially confidential business data. This sort of inadvertent sharing exposes organizations to bigger risks and while collaboration certainly can benefit a business from a productivity perspective, the modern organization needs to find balance on security. The right content collaboration system, however, can account for this sort of issue.

For example, when sharing a file out of a folder, some systems can be configured to scan the shared information and provide warnings when necessary — “This document has credit card info, are you sure you want to share it?” it might ask.

The basic answer is that your chosen content collaboration or file sharing solution needs good administrative controls, so you can determine who can share what, when and to whom. Perhaps you limit sharing to only those members of your organization. Additionally, simply instituting an auto-stop sharing policy — where after a certain amount of time a link expires — can help prevent information from making its way into the wrong hands further down the line.

Finding Files

Effectively using a content collaboration system can be a challenge in its own right. When multiple individuals are accessing the same content at the same time, you need a system that can not only handle versioning properly but also one that helps disparate teams and team members find the right content at the right time.

For example, the marketing team may be working on creating a presentation and they want to know the latest functionality of product offering. One member may not know which document to start with, and if your chosen solution only shows them the latest files, instead of the most relevant, they may end up re-doing work or starting from the wrong point. This can obviously lead to a disconnect and is counterproductive for teams.

Any content collaboration platform or enterprise file synchronization and sharing (EFSS) solution must have high-quality search capabilities that can search documents based on content, not just file names and dates. In addition, it should have data management capabilities that take into account information such as when the document was uploaded or created and the ability to set up proper tags. These features can show who is currently viewing or editing a document.

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While users have become accustomed to creating file folder structures and storing content that way, not everyone goes about this the same way. To make things easier, a system needs to be able to use automatic content tagging and context instead. A metadata management system allows searching based on name, extensions and more. When it comes to putting files in correct places, leaving an archive to discipline will always lead to failure. When it comes to selecting an EFSS that empowers individuals to collaborate better, a few rules to guide you:

Choose Ferrari Over Ford

Choose a collaboration solution that offers good customization (logo, background image, branded email templates, etc.,) options to broadcast your brand. Collaboration solutions are a great vehicle to spread brand awareness among your partners, customers and employees. Why lose this opportunity to put your name out there?

SaaS is Not Always Sassy

When it comes to content collaboration, SaaS solutions are dime a dozen. But don’t follow the herd blindly. They are not always the panacea for all your collaboration ills. Evaluate where your data, applications and users are located, take stock of your existing investments in in-house infrastructure and choose the deployment option (on-premise or SaaS) that meets your needs. It always makes sense to keep your content collaboration solution closer to your data, apps and users. In such scenarios, an on-premise solution may be the best fit for your requirements. On the contrary, cloud-based SaaS options may be a good fit if you are doing a green field project.

It Takes Two to Tango

Set out to achieve the right balance between security and convenience. While usability and convenience are desired for a collaboration solution, security cannot be an afterthought. Rising cyber threats, accidental sharing of sensitive data, sloppy handling of personal intellectual information can cause immense financial and reputation loss to your business. Choose a collaboration solution that offers strong ransomware protection, data leak prevention and comprehensive endpoint device management features.

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Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees

Midmarket firms don’t have the same IT budgets as large enterprises. Be resourceful and look for collaboration solutions that offer great value and ROI. With much competition in the space, there is a range of options that can fit your needs. Do your research, ask fellow IT managers and check with industry analysts. One insider tip: Look for a collaboration solution that offers free, external users accounts as this can save a lot of money for your organization.

Information Control is Destiny

With all things being equal, choose a collaboration solution that supports open, industry document standards and don’t fall into the trap where your content gets locked into a proprietary document format or a closed system. If you do that, it’s very hard to migrate your information when you outgrow the system and your organization will be at a mercy of the solution provider.

Today’s midmarket firm is tomorrow’s large enterprise. As your firm grows, a flexible solution will be more adaptable to your changing business processes and workflows than a rigid solution. Find a solution that can fit your workflow rather than the other way around.

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