Enterprise File Sharing: Sharing? Yes. Enterprise? Not so much.

By Daniel Chalef posted 04-10-2012 14:10


The enterprise file sharing market is crowded.  Every day another new entrant wants to help companies share files in the cloud.  Sharing helps teams pass information, but when it comes to the enterprise it just isn’t enough.  

Enterprise business units create complex budgets that go through numerous review cycles.  They have global locations that need relevant content to make great sales proposals.  And they have complex contracts that need to be vetted and approved by the right team members.

So, enterprises need enterprise-class tools for managing documents.  Tools that support the way large, global teams do business.  And tools that are easy to set-up, configure, re-configure, and re-configure again – without developers.

So, what should an enterprise look for when looking to move up from file sharing?  Let's get down to business by being able to:

Create Documents as a Team

When working with a global organization, team members constantly collaborate on key documents.  They offer feedback, create new versions, share with others, store copies on their local computer, and more.  That makes for a collaboration nightmare as a sales team struggles to piece together the best proposal possible.

Enterprise document management avoids the chaos and complexity that comes with collaboration.  Feedback from users should be centralized in a single location and users alerted when changes are made to a document.  Multiple versions must be neatly stacked by date, with the ability to revert to prior versions as needed.  And integrations into office productivity tools are essential to let enterprise workers work like enterprise workers do.

Curate Documents for Fast Discovery

‘Where is that document?’ must be the most common refrain in the enterprise.  File sharing makes it easy to share a document.  But how do teams find what they need?  Cloud-based chaos is still chaos.  Worse still, what about the unknown documents?  The new contract template that is never used?  The marketing collateral that sales never heard of? 

Enterprises need intuitive tools to make the curation of documents easy.  Organize documents into hierarchies based on business process, geography, and other key template-friendly business concepts.  And tailor metadata to suit your organization and make it easy to apply it to documents.  File sharing without metadata is just a cloud-based place where content gets lost.

But what about documents your team doesn’t even know to look for?  Analytics and social elements make discovery easy.  If the consulting team is looking at and liking the new proposal template, then maybe you should use it too.  If Jim in pre-sales is creating great new proposal material, shouldn’t I keep tabs on what he’s preparing.  Social-driven analytics make content worth sharing across an enterprise.

Manage Documents as they Change

Enterprises are process-driven.  And it’s no wonder. They simply can’t struggle to find archived manufacturing plans when regulators come knocking.  They can’t issue a contract without review by the right legal counsel.  And they need to be on top of who OK’d the contract and when.

File sharing is about granting access to particular documents.  That’s not enough.  Documents need to be managed throughout their lifecycle.  From creation to review to business use to archiving.  That means teams need process tools to route documents for review, see where documents are getting stuck in approvals, and keep them moving.  

Plus, as business change over time, you need to manage the lifecycle of your documents.  Does a statement of work need to be reassessed?  Do you need to archive documents to keep them unchanged?  Do you need to adjust security settings for aging files?  Enterprises need that level of control.

What now?  While the dozens of file sharing tools focus on accessing files, enterprises need to look beyond.  They need simple tools that address enterprise class document challenges.  They need tools that help teams create, organize, and manage documents like a business.

That’s worth sharing.

#enterprise #cloud #documentmanagement #filesharing