3 questions to help you find the best enterprise content collaboration solution

 In Cloud

The storage wars have been a popular topic of late. Whether it’s Microsoft and Google competing with Amazon Web Services’ ever-plummeting prices, or how economies of scale affect a player like Box, these stories often focus myopically on the storage component of the vendors and ignore the more important story: what the different offerings actually enable users and businesses to do with the content once it’s stored in a given system.

Every organization has its own needs and requirements when it comes to content. And businesses are increasingly taking a best-of-breed approach to their IT ecosystem; gone are the days when companies would buy all of their software, hardware, and services from a single vendor. With the rise in adoption of Office 365, Microsoft’s cloud-based productivity suite, many organizations are looking for complementary content solutions to expand their administrative controls and reporting of content, cross-platform usability, secure external collaboration, and BYOD mobile access.


How do you decide the right approach for your organization? Here are three questions to consider:

1. What are the different content use cases and requirements across our organization?

Start by assessing where you are today and what’s working — or not working — for your business and your users. Let’s break it into a few key categories:

    • End user requirements. How and where are users storing and using content today? Does all content currently live behind the firewall, making it difficult for users to access remotely and on mobile devices? Is content primarily accessed internally? How is content shared externally? What file types and file sizes do users typically work with?
    • IT/administrative requirements. Are there risks in how people access or share content today? For example, are they using consumer-grade tools outside the control of IT? Are there industry-specific compliance requirements? What content activities does your business need to be able to control and report on? What permissions do you need to be able to apply to users, files, and folders? How much administrative overhead do you want to dedicate to managing a content offering?
    • Mobility requirements. Does content need to be accessed on mobile devices? What must users be able to do with content on a mobile device (view, comment, edit, share)? What devices does your business support? Do you have an enterprise mobility management solution that your content provider must integrate with?

Every business will have unique requirements in each of these areas. For example, a construction company might have workers in the field who need to access blueprints, and also be able to upload photos from a job site into a shared workspace for engineers back in the office. A health care provider might need secure access to patient records, and require tight security around the content and a HIPAA-compliant solution.

When determining what type of content collaboration solution is right for your business, first establish a good benchmark for what the various content use cases are today — what’s working and not working — and what the use cases will be in the future. The vendor you select should help you meet today’s requirements as well as future ones.

2. In what current applications does content play a major role?

In a best-of-breed world, the various applications that an organization uses must work seamlessly together. And most organizations are looking to move away from numerous silos of content — from FTP to network drives to legacy enterprise content management (ECM) tools — and toward a more consolidated content strategy.

Which vendor is best suited to help meet this goal of a more unified content platform? Look at all of the applications across your organization. Whether it’s Salesforce.com for customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications, enterprise mobility management applications like AirWatch or MobileIron, or even business intelligence and data analytics tools, nearly all them have a need to interact with content. And in order to avoid more silos of information, organizations are choosing a content platform that can integrate with the many applications across the business — a requirement that most content collaboration vendors can’t support.

3. How does your current content solution stack up?

Why buy or include products that you won’t use between this renewal and the next? Or that you’ll use but take on risk by doing so — with users going around IT if the solution isn’t intuitive, doesn’t meet their needs, or offers minimal security over the content they share with the IT-sanctioned tool. Take a hard look at the content applications you’re using today and identify what’s working and what’s not. Are users actually adopting what’s in place today, or taking matters into their own hands? Do those tools actually meet the requirements of end users? Of IT and security? Do they meet near-term and long-term requirements? How difficult are they to upgrade or maintain over time? With a strong market of best-of-breed content collaboration players, there’s no reason to settle for something that isn’t meeting the needs of the business — even if it feels free.

Moving your business forward

It’s an exciting time. We’re moving toward a world in which organizations are more comfortable bringing in multiple applications and determining the best one for the job — the one that fits the needs of their end users and IT. And end users have more say than ever before.

Despite the recent focus on storage in the cloud, the real differentiator is in the productivity, growth, and innovation that a solution can bring to your business once your content is stored there. By taking a hard look at your core use cases, how content can power other applications across the organization, and your current content applications, you can begin to identify the best content collaboration solution for your business, for today and tomorrow’s needs.

Hilary Salazar BoxThis post was contributed by Hilary Salazar, Product Marketing, Box.com. Box’s mission is to make businesses of all sizes more productive, competitive, and collaborative by connecting people and their most important information. More than 27 million people at 240,000 businesses, including 99 percent of the Fortune 500, use Box today to share, manage and access their content globally. For more information, visit www.Box.com.

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