It's not you, it's me: How IT can stop the mobility-cloud break up

Enterprises see a lot of promise in mobile devices. Their users should be more productive now that they can craft presentations on the go. Their employees should have more opportunities to collaborate now that they can share documents anytime via their smartphones. Right?

Well, not really. For too many businesses, the promise of the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend has been swallowed up by mobile workflow challenges and insecure, consumer-grade cloud sharing solutions.

It would be easy to predict the break-up of mobility and the cloud, but this is a relationship worth saving. Doing so, however, will take a new approach.

A mobile workflow reliant on the Pandora’s Box of file sharing

Left to fend for themselves, business users have cobbled together their own clunky workarounds to mobility-cloud problems. For example, in order to share, annotate, edit and collaborate over Microsoft Office files from their mobile devices, enterprise users have had to perform an intricate dance.

To even open a file, mobile workers have had to email attachments to themselves or open accounts with a cloud storage service like Box, thereby introducing risk to the enterprise. Next, they have downloaded programs or apps like Open Office to open files on their mobile devices and see whatever text, tables or graphics they contained.

Editing and annotation required additional, difficult steps, too. Mobile workers have had to download annotation apps to write notes or make changes to files. To save and share, those workers have had to opt for Box or Dropbox, where they often found that their annotations were lost in translation between incompatible operating systems.

All of these steps might have solved the file-sharing problem, but they exacerbated the security issue. Risk-averse enterprises, seeing a Pandora’s Box of leaky cloud storage service options, have been tempted to break up the mobile-cloud connection altogether.

A safer way to collaborate

There is a better way to sustain the marriage of mobility and cloud without divorcing the enterprise from its security requirements. The market’s improved options for controlling mobile workflow come just in time.

By 2017, according to several forecasts by Gartner and Forrester, tablet sales will outnumber desktop sales. In addition, we’re likely to see mobile phone shipments (mostly smartphones) grow to more than 2 billion in 2017, according to Gartner. Mobility is here to stay, making secure, native Microsoft Office functionality and collaboration tools more essential than ever for mobile workers.

The only way to securely share files between employees is to use a file-centric, secure collaboration, tool. This means a file-sharing service that employees can access from anywhere they want (and on mobile devices like iPads) with security features that give enterprise leaders assurance that sensitive information won’t get leaked.

If a file gets emailed to the wrong person accidentally or an employee’s iPhone is stolen, then all the enterprise has to do is revoke access via the application – deleting the file wherever it may be and shutting the lid on Pandora’s Box.

The mandate for enterprise IT is to deliver instant access to any files from anywhere, and companies can now deliver on that directive. Mobile devices hold a lot of promise for enterprise file sharing and productivity. With recent advances in mobile collaboration tools, that promise is set to be fulfilled.

Moti Rafalin is CEO of WatchDox, a provider of enterprise solutions to share, control and work with files on any device.

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28 May 2013, 2:18 p.m.

Tnx Moti, i totally agree. We use vBoxxCloud as our dedicated private file sharing cloud. I think it is THE answer to cloud and mobility.
Tnx for your article!