Hybrid Dilemma: It's the End-User's Choice
An increasing number of corporate employees use third-party cloud storage solutions like Google Drive and DropBox to store and share business content, potentially putting sensitive and confidential company at risk. But why is it taking IT so long to adjust to the needs of these users.
Well, consider these scenarios. First, IT can't pull out a credit card and commit to a three year investment in an enterprise cloud solution. And second, IT can't build out an internal infrastructure overnight without affecting other projects (aka “IT doesn't have a magic wand”).
Any investment in collaboration solutions requires thoughtful analysis and planning by IT and business stakeholders. These enterprise deployments take time and are quite contrary to the end-users' experience at home with personal cloud solutions. Keeping users engaged throughout the enterprise process is challenging to say the least.
With that disengagement comes risk. End users expect access to their information anywhere, at any time, and from any device with little thought for the security repercussions. Organizations strive to meet those yet their primary priorities are to guard the value of the organization through security and governance (aka formally approved tools).
To put this part of the hybrid dilemma into perspective, let's take a look at the collaboration spectrum (below) and the range of collaboration tools and choices that end users and IT have. If you consider the type of content (temporary to record) and audience (Individual to enterprise), it's clear that the availability of collaboration tools is broad. For example, let's look at e-mail as one mode of communication amongst the rest of the spectrum. If used as originally intended, e-mail would be focused on small group to team discussions and not for grand corporate announcements. The reality today is that e-mail could cover most of this chart due to its dominance as the de facto content creation collaboration tool. In contrast, Instant Messaging is intended as a point-to-point solution, and when integrated into your every day work, would remove some of those pesky 'are you at your desk' e-mails. Yet even with IM's benefits there is slow movement towards dividing collaboration into more specific workloads across the spectrum.
End users will no doubt have experience of e-mail, IM, social and online storage, so how does IT marry user experiences (fast, anytime, anywhere access to collaboration platforms) while addressing the business collaboration requirements such as identity authentication, records management, governance, etc. IT responds by following the same decisions it has always applied around compliance and security requirements for content – segregating content of the same compliance/security requirements to a specific infrastructure that is “approved” to readily address those corporate security, governance, and regulatory needs. To coin a new phrase, I call this action 'Infrastructure as Information Architecture' (IAIA). In this model, end users have the ability to 'provision' their own cloud solution with a credit card, at speed, while IT takes care of placing the right content in the right infrastructure.
The key to success for both IT and end users is to communicate how the organization's best interests can be served by creating the right hybrid environment across the collaboration spectrum. One that allows each side to recognize the other's limitations and how the power of collaboration and communication can minimize support and risk.
Adam is a Director of Product Management at Metalogix and a Microsoft MVP advocating for collaboration by connecting business needs with the right technology. Prior to Metalogix, Adam was a Practice Lead for Office 365 in a cutting edge Microsoft Consulting firm where he was responsible for moving customers to the cloud, designing and implementing information architecture (SharePoint Farm and content) and increasing user adoption. Adam is an ongoing member of the SharePoint Saturday DC coordinating committee and active speaker at various events.