Content: It’s All About (Safe) Access

By Bryant Duhon posted 01-31-2013 14:51


In this AIIM13 Q&A, we talk about how to say “no” to the Department of No; how the workplace is changing because of BYOD (and bring your own cloud); what's next in enterprise content management; and a projection that private clouds are going to be big in 2013.

If you want to know more about these topics and trends; you need to register for AIIM 2013 NOW!

Colman Murphy is Director of Product Marketing, Enterprise at Accellion and has more than 20 years of experience in marketing communications and product management of software and imaging products for the enterprise, prosumer and consumer markets. He is currently responsible for all marketing aspects of Accellion’s enterprise content integration solutions.

Duhon: Mobile access is increasingly critical for workplace productivity; how can a company plan to do so effectively, securely, and without creating additional “mini-silos” of content pockets throughout the company?

Murphy: This is a serious issue. Today’s workplace differs from any other in history in one essential and extremely challenging way: individual employees are forcing organizations AIIM Conference 2013to change how information is accessed and used. The rapid rise in professionals turning to their personal tablets and smartphones for business – along with the increase of consumer-grade, cloud storage services like Dropbox – has certainly boosted productivity. In fact, overall productivity has grown by roughly 21 percent from 2002 to 2011, according the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Thanks to the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) phenomenon, employees are now working longer hours – on their own time, using their own “infrastructure” – in locations that seemed unimaginable even a few years ago.

This is now the norm, not the exception: The Aberdeen Group has found that three-quarters of corporations allow some sort of BYOD usage, and Harris Interactive Research reports that 81 percent of workers connect to at least one personal device for business purposes. While organizations as a whole are reaping the benefits of this expanded productivity, there are concerns about the potential impact on network operations, security, and compliance. The average mobile worker carries 3.5 portable devicesand only 10 percentof organizations are fully aware of which devices are accessing their networks, according to additional industry research findings. That means the vast majority don’t know what devices are connecting, or where they’re connecting from, and what exactly is happening as a result. This is how the “mini-silos” are taking shape out there. Because they’re fairly ubiquitous at this point, enterprises are losing control over the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of their data.

We often recommend private cloud deployment to our customers. Private clouds can greatly help organizations maintain a fair degree of control over standards and best practices for mobile users, while still making it possible to have data “live anywhere.” Private clouds are terrific for file sharing and synchronization to enhance collaboration and encourage a more agile approach to IT, while not elevating exposure to data loss, regulatory penalties, and other compliance issues.

Duhon: How do you combine BYOD and secure access to content? Is that a technology or a policy issue?

Murphy: Oh, it’s definitely both. It begins with policy. You must accurately define the issue as based upon the real-world mobile activity within your entire organization and then develop, communicate and enforce clear policies that govern “fair usage” of corporate information no matter what device is involved. Then comes the technology part, when you implement relevant, supportive IT tools that will enable – not prohibit content access. That’s an important distinction. The actions of the “tech folks” here should not come across as a “Department of No.” If workers do not feel that they are being adequately supported and given the freedom to work the way they need to, they will circumvent the corporate system. This is highlighted in the recent AIIM “Content in the Cloud” report that noted that only 45 percent of respondents have official policies regarding the use of “consumer-grade” cloud-based file-shares and collaboration systems, and of these, 12 percent admit that these policies are being circumvented. You don’t want this, so it’s best to keep these staff members happy when they are delivering more than 20 percent in productivity gains.

After this, security and auditing systems come into play. You must overlay them so they can validate and support the overall plan. They must establish data encryption while in transit, user authentication, SAML authentication/single sign-on, file tracking/reporting, archival integration, and other current best practices for security standards. They should take the additional step of blocking ports for unsecure file-sharing services.

If the plan is not working, all of these steps will combine to help you determine if a technology or a process issue is causing the problem, as well as come up with a correction strategy.

Duhon: Define mobile content management.

Murphy: It is a concept that is evolving as we speak. A working definition depends upon three variables. First, there are the devices themselves, which are increasing in power and screen resolutions, and will continue to improve. Ultimately, the industry wants to create a mobile experience that is as rich and powerful as the desktop or laptop one. But they’re still a long way off from that.

Then, there’s connectivity. Cost is lower today, but complexities and latencies in accessing enterprise content have to be addressed. Lastly, there is the user experience. We once sought platforms that integrated a broad range of functions on one, unified app. That’s no longer the case. Today, it’s about developers – and even consumers – working toward multiple apps that do one, specific thing very well, and are exceptionally easy to use.

Once you understand how these dynamics impact your organization, you can assemble a Mobile Content Management plan that resembles a stripped-down, highly functional adaptation of the full Enterprise Content Management (EMC) experience and capabilities. Components of this should cover appropriate use and best practices for document/library functions; editing/annotation, with comments and Office/document support addressed; collaboration of documents with both internal and external users; and workflow/business process automation with specifics on document routing and approval.

Duhon: Can you explain the different “shapes” that cloud-based solutions can take?

Murphy: We all know about the “big three” cloud models: public, private, and hybrid. Public clouds are quite popular. They’re convenient and typically operate on a “pay as you go” model. All of this makes for a nimble business that can effectively respond to rapid industry shifts. Unfortunately, internal users/workers are signing up for often free public cloud services that lack rigorous security and audit controls over activities such as file sharing. These services do not come with the sort of centralized monitoring and control features that IT administrators and security teams require to keep data safe and demonstrate compliance. You’re resigned to the standards of the third-party cloud vendor. What do you know about the vendor and how do you make sure that your most vital, sensitive data and information will not get compromised? The honest answer would be: You don’t.

This is why we preach the benefits of a private cloud solution. It establishes the best balance between the protection of data assets and business functionality. Thus, the boom in productivity continues. Employees still connect to the network through the latest mobile gadgets they’re buying for both personal and business purposes. But everything that’s introduced into this private cloud environment – the applications deployed and the best practices adopted to reduce threats – abides by standards set by the organization (with great input from IT, of course).

Because of these factors, we believe 2013 will be a very big year for the private cloud.

Duhon: Why use file-sharing tools? What’s wrong with FTP?

Murphy: FTP was perfectly functional at one point, and for many organizations is still acceptable. It allowed for a simple method to share or transfer of large files. A mini-industry grew up around FTP offering thick clients, browser-based tools, and hosted turnkey solutions. However, like many other Internet developments, FTP has been supplanted by other tools and protocols which provide a richer set of capabilities. They are more secure, plus are easier to use, administer, and audit.

At Accellion, our Secure File Transfer system has gained traction in enterprises because it enables the secure sharing of files and folders up to 100 GB for internal and external recipients. With file synchronization throughout multiple devices and desktops/laptops, users on our system can easily and safely collaborate, and file/account management is automated. They can also take advantage of favorite apps that are available on all of the various Apple OS, BlackBerry, and Android platforms. As for IT department staffers, they can better conduct comprehensive file tracking and reporting to compliance authorities.

Duhon: What’s next for file sharing and ECM?

Murphy: For ECM, the Holy Grail remains universal, “smart” access to content. Historically, this has translated to implementing monolithic, highly complex systems to locate, index, and categorize all enterprise content. This also created difficulties. Organizations could not readily adapt their strategies as conditions shifted. Factors such as infrastructure needs, user requirements, government regulations, competitive landscape, and/or the economy never wait for the next build of software to benefit a company’s daily operations. So the emergence of the employee as an agent of change on corporate policy and technology serves as a wake-up call. The old models for storing, accessing, managing, and sharing information no longer apply. Knowledge workers have demonstrated that simple, easy-to-use tools – available in real time – will always be selected over what are considered “heavyweight” solutions.

We have already experienced the first wave of disruption with the rise of BYOD. We can immediately anticipate that document-centric business processes will follow the documents themselves, out of ECM systems and into the mobile universe. Mobile document capture, workflow, transformation, output, delivery, archive, records management, and compliance functions will be as much a “given” within the enterprise structure as fixed-computing document oversight is today.

The real untapped challenge is looking beyond the structure of documents and files, into information components spread throughout disparate and disconnected content types – a blog post, a video, an excerpt from a Word document, an email, etc. – and design tools that truly deliver on that idea of “smart” access. The great benefit of the first wave of disruption is that application developers already understand how to create systems that combine powerful server-side – i.e. Cloud – capabilities with exceptional user experiences. The Holy Grail may not be within grasp, yet, but we’re much closer to it now than we ever were before.

#cloud #AIIM2013 #filesharing #mobilecontent #AIIM13 #Security #Collaboration #ECM