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Five enterprise file sync-and-share implementation pitfalls to avoid

Some of the biggest hurdles when it comes to using enterprise file sync-and-share applications can arise during the initial rollout.

What should you be thinking about as you evaluate enterprise file sync-and-share tools that will help you keep control of corporate data and reduce bring your own apps (BYOA) trends? The product features and functionality are certainly important and requirements will vary widely by use case. But there's one area of concern organizations often skip while they focus on the features: the challenges involved in the rollout process.

Here is a short list of pitfalls involved in enterprise file sync and share, and what you can do about them.

Jumping into BYOD without formal policies and guidelines

This isn't just an enterprise file sync and share-specific challenge, but it's worth noting as you roll out mobile productivity applications. Providing employees with tools that enable them to work anywhere and from any device can have a positive impact on employee productivity. Enterprise Strategy Group found that 80% of companies with formal BYOD policies (as opposed to loose guidelines) in place have seen an increase in employee productivity and a reduction in help desk calls. In fact, 30% have seen significant productivity increases, and only 2% report a negative impact and an increase in IT help desk calls.

A majority of those companies that allow BYOD but don't have formal policies in place also see a corresponding increase in productivity; however, only 7% report a significant increase while 36% report no change in productivity, and 8% report a negative impact and increase in help desk calls. So, before you jump into BYOD, make sure to put guidelines in place that instruct employees as to what devices work best in your environment, what apps are available and how to access corporate apps. You should also provide application usage guidelines.

Not including mobile workers in the evaluation process

Mobility and easy access to productivity applications have certainly influenced employees' perceptions of how they should interact with apps. They expect consumer-like ease of use, but largely recognize that they won't get the full consumer experience with business tools. And that's OK. But your chances of a successful enterprise file sync-and-share deployment increase significantly if you include your mobile stakeholders in the evaluation process. You will gain a greater understanding of the nuances associated with how and where they work, and you can ensure the product meets those needs. You will understand what the acceptable tradeoffs are from an ease-of-use standpoint. And, most importantly, you will gain champions who will help promote a system that they were a part of selecting. Don't underestimate word-of-mouth champions when it comes to user adoption -- it's the primary way mobile applications are promoted and adopted.

Assuming there's a one-size-fits-all enterprise file sync-and-share product

Tools vary dramatically when it comes to security and controls. So, you should research corporate use cases. Many organizations try to deploy one product that meets all users' needs -- which often means deploying for the most secure use case. Unfortunately, that puts lots of security controls over users and data that probably don't need it. And that leads to continued BYOA issues.

Recognize the security differences and deploy the right tools for the right use cases. And while this means more vendors, licensing and IT cycles to manage disparate products, it also means more adoption and more secure and protected corporate data overall. But this could result in users needing multiple products to accomplish tasks that cross boundaries. There are offerings on the market from vendors like Citrix, Accellion and Egnyte that have connectors.

Ignoring training

It seems that every vendor touts how easy and "consumer-like" their client interfaces are. Yet, training new users on the tools and challenges is consistently one of the top two challenges for organizations that have deployed enterprise file sync-and-share products -- right behind security concerns. Enterprise file sync-and-share tools can be very powerful when used correctly. And the corporate tools can do much more than the consumer tools. They won't all be as easy to use as their consumer tools simply because of that fact. So, make sure your employees know how to perform basic and advanced functions -- the better they know the tools you are rolling out, the less likely they are to revert to their old BYOA ways.

Using the wrong measures for success

You need user adoption of corporate tools to keep data secure and protected. We often see organizations measure adoption purely based on the number of seats deployed. But just because users download clients and maybe load some data into their accounts does not mean they are using them. Better measures of success center on activity -- how often users are accessing their accounts, how many files are stored and shared, how many links are shared, and how many files have comments. Your users may upload the corporate client but use their BYOA accounts early on, but as you roll out training and even incentives for use, you'll see an uptick in activity. And as activity increases, so do your levels of control and governance over corporate data.

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