Employees Collaborate On Public Clouds With Or Without IT

Employees expect the same great experience at work that they get from their consumer IT services outside work.  A wide range of public cloud services let people collaborate easily, sharing information with a swipe or click.  IT departments struggle to provide in-house services that meet such high expectations.  Even when they do, they often leave the individual stuck between life at work and life outside work.  Since most of us use our phones, tablets, PCs and other devices for both work and personal tasks, company and personal content gets commingled.  Employees are using consumer cloud services to conduct business, mixing personal and business content.  For example, LinkedIn connects me to my customers and coworkers, but also to fellow alumni, members of professional organizations and other groups.  Dropbox is handy for taking my work home and sharing work with partners, but also for collaborating on my nonprofit work and sharing pictures with the grandparents.

Content is for sharing — it’s not very useful otherwise.  Businesses need to collaborate with people outside the organization, like customers, suppliers and partners.  As soon as collaboration enters the picture, the individual’s efforts to keep things simple get harder.  I may like Box.net, but my customer uses SkyDrive, and my partner uses Google Drive.   How many electronic conversations do you have running right now, and where is all the content of those conversations?  How long would it take to find all the documents you’ve authored, received or forwarded?  For content you’ve authored, do you know where it has been forwarded and who has seen it?Who Controls Collaboration Content

All this dispersion of content leaves IT with a growing risk management challenge.  How can IT protect data privacy for the enterprise?  The traditional answer is to set up secured services inside the intranet and let users connect via a virtual private network when they’re mobile.  Businesses are setting up private partitions in public cloud services too.  IT departments who have recognized the legitimacy of public social networks add policy statements and use guidelines.  None of these solutions address the fact that content is moving in all directions, being quickly shared and forwarded outside the line-of-sight of either IT or the content owner.

Businesses need a solution that doesn’t force employees to change their behavior, one that tracks and manages content as it flows across the cloudscape.  What is your company doing to address this challenge?  How do you manage your own personal and business content?

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