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Why enterprise sync and share should learn to love BYOA

BYOA is inevitable today -- but instead of viewing it as a threat, enterprises should see it as an opportunity to roll out new sync-and-share apps.

It seems we're inundated with marketing campaigns about solving the "Dropbox problem." Every enterprise is struggling with the fact that employees are using consumer tools for business data, putting corporate data at risk of leakage or loss, and Dropbox has become the poster child for the issue.

Of course, the threat isn't limited to Dropbox -- corporate data is in Evernote, OneNote, iPad Notes and so on. In other words, it's everywhere. Consequences for a company could be onerous if this data falls into the wrong hands, from fines for violating government regulations to losing a competitive advantage and someone stealing core IP. So, it's no surprise that we are seeing businesses adopt enterprise sync and share at a fast pace to stem the bring your own applications (BYOA) tide and get corporate data back under control. But there are a number of things organizations need to keep in mind as they evaluate enterprise sync-and-share options.

IT must embrace bring-your-own culture

IT is entering new ground when it comes to mobility. We've shifted from 100% use of corporate-owned, corporate-provisioned devices to a mix of corporate- and employee-owned appliances. In fact, ESG's 2015 IT spending intentions research revealed that 69% of the organizations surveyed allow use of employee-owned devices for business purposes.

The challenge here, of course, is that these devices put all kinds of new applications within easy reach of employees. If an employee needs to accomplish a task, rather than waiting for IT to provision tools, it's much easier just to find an app and get the job done. BYOD has led to BYOA, and that is what has come to be known as the Dropbox problem. It's also injected complexity into the IT buying process as employees compare corporate tools to consumer tools from an accessibility and ease-of-use standpoint. But rather than viewing this mobile computing shift as a problem, IT should be viewing it as an opportunity to roll out new tools, processes and workflows that can increase employee satisfaction and productivity. But the opportunity needs to be approached with caution -- it is fraught with potential pitfalls that could promote more BYOA rather than eliminate it.

The shift from desktop to multi-platform computing is happening fast, and IT needs to respond. The vendor community is. Certainly Dropbox is viewing this shift as an opportunity -- hence, the Dropbox for Business tools.

But it's not just Dropbox. A huge number of vendors see the opportunity associated with the shift from PC to multi-device computing and have thrown their hats into the enterprise sync-and-share ring. Each vendor has its strengths and weaknesses regarding how much control and visibility IT has into user data and activities.

The feature checklist can be long and confusing, and the product evaluation very time-consuming. There are certainly tradeoffs that may need to be made from feature and function standpoints. But because of consumerization and the easy access to alternative applications, the process issues are equally important to deal with. Ignore them at your own (and your company's) peril. But if you keep these considerations top of mind, you can help stem the BYOA trend in your organization.

Next Steps

Gear up for more enterprise sync-and-share vendors added to the mix

Six steps to making a BYOA program ready for the enterprise

How to evaluate an enterprise file sync-and-share offering

This was last published in August 2015

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Do you have trouble securing the data employees share through BYOA in your business?
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There are often better tools out there than the company-sanctioned ones. I download applications that help me do my job well, and I would have a tough time without them.

However, my company blocks sites like Dropbox, Google Docs, etc, in an effort to prevent any company data from leaving company computers.
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