By Dietmar Gombotz, CEO and Founder of Sphares
With the introduction and growth of different Cloud- and Software-As-A-Service offerings, a rapid transition process driven through the mix-up between professional and personal space has taken shape. Not only are users all over the world using modern, flexibel and new products like DropBox or others at home, they want the same usability and “ease of use” in the corporate world. This of course conflicts with internal-policy and external-compliance issues, especially when data is shared through any tool.
I will focus mainly on the aspect of sharing data (usually in the form of files, but it could be other data-objects like calender-information or CRM data)
Many organizations have not yet formulated a consistent and universal strategy on how to handle this aspect in of their daily work. We assume an organizational structure where data sharing with clients/partners/suppliers is a regular process, which will surely be the case in more than 80% of all business nowdays.
There area different strategies to handle this:
No Product Policy
Basically the most well known policy is to not allow usage of modern tools and keeping with some internal infrastructure or in-house built tools.
Pro: data storage is 100% transparent, no need for further clarification
Con: unrealistic expectation especially in fields with a lot of data sharing, email will be used to transfer data to partners anyway so the data will be in multiple places and stages distributed
One-Product Policy
The most widley proactive policy is to define one solution (e.g. we use Google Drive) where a business account is taken or which can be installed (owncloud, …) on own hardware
Pro: data storage can be defined, employees have access to a working solution, clarifications are not needed
Con: partner need accounts on this system and have to make an extra effort to integrate it into their processes
Seen at small shops often. They use whatever their partners are using and get accounts when there partners propose some solution. They usually have a prefered product, but will switch whenever the client wants to use something else.
Pro: no need of adjustment on side of partner
Con: dozens of accounts, often shared to private accounts with no central control, data will be copied into internal system like with emails
Usage of Aggregation Services
The organization uses the “Product-As-You-Need” view combined with aggregation tools like JoliCloud or CloudKafe
Pro: no need of adjustment on side of partner, one view on the data on the companies side
Con: data still in dozen of systems and on private accounts (central control), integration in processes not possibleas the data stay on the different systems
Usage of Rule-Engines
There are a couple of Rule Engines like IFTTT (If this then that) or Zapier that can help you to connect different tools and trigger actions like you are used to in e-mail inboxes (filter rules). In combination with a preferred tool this can be a valid way to get data pre-processed and put into your system
Pro: Rudimentary integration with different systems, employees stay within their system
Con: Usually One-Way actions so updates do not get back to your partners, usually on a user-basis so no central control is needed.
Service Integration
Service Integration allows the sharing of data via an intermediate layer. There are solutions that will synchronize data (SPHARES) thereby allowing data consistency. Additionally there are services that will connect to multiple cloud storage facilities to retrieve data (Zoho CRM)
Pro: Data is integrated in processes, everybody stays within their system they use
Con: additional cost for the integration service