Mobile File Sharing – It’s About More Than the Cloud

Credit: Viktor Hanacek

Credit: Viktor Hanacek

You’ve been in this situation. You prepare for a client meeting or for court. You’ve got digital copies of all of the documents that you will need. Until you don’t. While you are in transit you get a message which changes things. You will need a few more files, but you have no mobile file sharing from your smartphone or tablet.

Files. After mobile access to email, files are the medium which we most need on the fly. We swap them with colleagues. We prepare and send docs to clients, who send them back and ask for changes. We change them, save them, and send them back.

It’s a tremendous productivity boost to have mobile file sharing from our smartphones and tablets.

Here is the challenge for IT. Where are the files which employees need to share from their smartphones stored?

Wait, you say. Isn’t this simple? Aren’t files all moving to the Cloud?

No, not in all cases. And definitely not in the near-term. While file storage in the Cloud is growing, there are many sectors and companies which won’t migrate to the Cloud for many years, if ever. Gartner’s 2013 CIO Survey1 found that 28% of CIOs expect to source all critical applications and operations via the Cloud by 2016, and 55% expect to do so by 2020. On the other hand, this means that 45% of CIO’s do not expect to source via the Cloud by 2020. While a significant portion of companies can move to the Cloud, for others it’s a more complex matter.

By some estimates, 20-30% of all file storage may never migrate to the Cloud. The Everest Group, in their Cloud Adoption Survey 20132, found that 21% of surveyed enterprises have no plan to migrate collaboration and content management systems to the Cloud.

Law firms, financial institutions, and other regulated industries will, in many cases, not be able to meet security and confidentiality requirements with Cloud storage. Amongst other issues, the concern that governments may require Cloud storage services to release files to the government is a major deterrent to Cloud-based file sharing at firms with highly sensitive data.

The reality is that file storage is undergoing a major transition which will last for many years. Some legal and financial firms do store certain classes of files, for example, those used for training, in Cloud storage. In the ILTA/Inside Legal 2014 Technology Purchasing Survey3, 35% of participants reported that they had purchased Cloud storage (e.g., Dropbox, Box, ShareFile or OneDrive) in the last 12 months. However, only 17% plan to make Cloud storage purchases in the next 12 months. A wholesale conversion to Cloud storage is not in the works in the legal sector. At many firms, files will remain on-premises, behind the firm firewall, for years to come.

What this means is that mobile solutions must support sharing of files stored in a myriad of repositories, both on-premises and in the Cloud. Files may be stored in Windows shares, SharePoint, or WorkSite on-premises, or in NetDocuments, OneDrive, Box, or Dropbox in the Cloud. Files may be on-premises this quarter and be migrated to Box next quarter. To the mobile professional, where the files are stored must be transparent. All that matters to the user is that file sharing on a mobile device is fast and easy. Therefore, IT needs one mobility solution which lets mobile users share files no matter where they are stored.

–Maureen

  1. Gartner CIO Agenda Report 2013, p. 8; http://www.gartner.com/imagesrv/cio/pdf/cio_agenda_insights2013.pdf
  2. Everest Group Cloud Adoption Survey 2013, p. 9; http://www.everestgrp.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/2013-Enterprise-Cloud-Adoption-Survey.pdf
  3. 2014 International Legal Technology Association/InsideLegal Technology Purchasing Survey, p.6; http://insidelegal.typepad.com/files/2014/08/2014_ILTA_InsideLegal_Technology_Purchasing_Survey.pdf

 

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