The Benefits of Content Collaboration

Dec 05, 2014

Historically, the concept of data had a simple connotation as something that had to be searched for and retrieved behind a network firewall in an IT-managed repository. The data itself was a dead document and without management, it could be lost, misplaced, inadvertently deleted, or breached. 

Shocking to think about when we consider that data is one of the most important natural resources of any company.  According to IBM, 80% of what is in enterprise storage is content (and of that 80%, 68% is historical content that is not used on a daily basis).

Content has significant value to the Line of Business in their day-to-day activities and Enterprise file sync and share (EFSS) services change the entire paradigm of data access and handling.

The first and most important aspect of data handling in an EFSS is that the data resides in one easily accessible place, such as a cloud environment.  Also, the term data feels like a generic term, but, data is in fact a very big idea. For instance, Box identified 11,000 concept file types (e.g., if all the variations of file extensions for PDF, Excel, video, business files, etc. are accounted for) under its care.

Second, the type of collaboration where a file is updated and the newest revision of the file are keys to its management.  The data now has an historical record. The ability to prove data security is related to compliance requirements. The file itself becomes a manageable, auditable event.  As data is extracted from the file, it becomes part of a dynamic business operation and the real magic and business value of content collaboration begins.

The variety of business operations richly benefiting from a cloud-based file sharing system is immense. The following are illustrative examples:

• In construction, CAD documents can be dynamically changed as data is shared in real-time. An architect working remotely can change portions of a blueprint and the result can be accessed by a contractor either through a laptop, tablet, or custom-built device reflecting the changes.

• In the mortgage loan origination industry, there is no shortage of documents that need to be signed or notarized.  A mortgage loan is a highly structured transaction and time-stamping proves that the necessary procedures were followed in order to produce a legally binding document and agreement.
• Famously, one television executive quipped that programming is what happens in between commercials. The finalization of commercials is no casual affair. The production team finishes a commercial. In many instances, sound techs comb the files for sound integrity and then add music and audio effects. The content is then vetted by a company’s marketing department and executive team. Last, the legal team reviews the file commercial. Not only does the EFSS automatically update the file containing the commercial as changes are being made (and create an archive of previous versions), the whole process of transferring physical tape is eliminated.

• At a disaster site, insurance adjusters are taking hundreds upon hundreds of pictures in trying to determine damages and claims. The ability to establish a time-record and a hierarchy as the pictures are being taken is valuable.  (Worth noting here is that Frost & Sullivan prefers EFSS systems that use an Open API for integration as many industries may have case-based applications that can be integrated with the EFSS).

• Production can be a granularly managed event. If a publicly traded company is compiling a 10-Q form, the financial department can easily segment the parts of the report that each department head needs to file without having to parse content from a larger publication.

• Data access and retrieval becomes an integral part of workflow. Almost every business has a set of invoices, bills of lading, shipping documents, sales and marketing materials. How and when these documents are accessed creates a line of business.

“Heaven forbid” also happens  . . . data breaches happen. EFSS systems will create a log of who and what devices have accessed a given file, when a file was accessed, what changes were made, and where the file was located in terms of a cloud or firewall. All of this log information can be compiled and correlated in a forensics investigation. Of course, the faster a breach can be identified and understood, the faster remediation can begin—a benefit of an effective EFSS solution.
We earlier alluded to the idea that the file becomes an event. Security analysts almost reflexively join cloud based communications with cloud computing. Our thinking is analytics can readily be integrated with data to create positive outcomes.

In this way, social media and EFSS are coupled. If an enterprise has a Web site and uploads different content to the Web site, the way that followers interact with content is useful information. The idea that customers will download coupons or special offers in exchange for a phone number or a physical address is a staple of advertising. However, that event is now non-evasive. As a customer interacts with a piece of content, or an event planner, the enterprise knows from what device a customer used, the duration of the interaction, and what commentary was made as a part of the auditing and reporting platforms in an EFSS.

What really has happened is that data is no longer a passive activity. Data access can be an integral aspect of workflow or of any aspect of business production and applications. Content collaboration becomes easier in that team members (or other partners and contractors) work only with the latest and most properly vetted files. The smartest EFSS provide open-source API so enterprises can integrate its publishing tools, contact management, and custom-made applications to enhance presentations. The further advance of EFSS is not only creating new avenues for content collaboration, business operations are improved, and new interaction with social media and marketing tools adds to the overall value of EFSS platforms.

Category : Cloud, Consumer, Enterprise

Christopher Kissel


Chris Kissel offers eleven years of research and sales experience in the network security, cellular infrastructure, wireless, telecomm, PCs, semiconductor, and high-definition consumer device sectors. His current field of studies are in information and network security at Frost & Sullivan. More specifically, Mr. Kissel has expertise in knowledge-based network security technologies.: vulnerability management, SIEM, network forensics, network access control (NAC), and Internet of Things.

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