Controlling Content in the Digital Workplace 

The emergence of the digital workplace requires enterprises to think differently about content collaboration, protection and control.

22 May 2015


The emergence of the digital workplace requires enterprises to think differently about content protection. Technology continues to shift from the concept of protecting systems to protecting the content that lives on multiple devices, in multiple locations. This was a key theme at this year’s Gartner Digital Workplace Summit (DWS) which focused on improving employee communication, engagement and processes to gain greater efficiency in the digital workplace.

Every employee is now a digital employee. As organizations increasingly adopt digital elements into their work processes, cross-functional, cross-enterprise and global collaboration becomes an even more critical part of the workplace. As part of its recommended building blocks for enabling collaboration in the digital workplace, Gartner recommends that organizations get smart about their enterprise technologies. The “Nexus of Forces” — mobile, social, cloud and information — should be applied to enterprise technology to support the digital workplace demands (such as accessibility and collaboration) and encourage teams to work more effectively together. By 2018, Gartner predicts most businesses will be obligated to employ something like a digital workplace to coordinate a response to workplace trends for fear of losing their market position which Gartner predicts will happen to 25% of businesses by 2017 due to "digital business incompetence."

Content collaboration in digital business continues to be a hot topic, and moreover, how to ensure that collaboration on core intellectual property (IP) within and outside of the organization remains carefully curated, protected and compliant.

The Rise of Mobile and Connected Devices

This was a key speaking point for me at Gartner DWS during my presentation, “Maintaining Content Control in the Digital Workplace.” Today, most of us have a smart phone, a laptop, maybe a tablet or two. Some are owned by the individual and others by the enterprise. And many if not all of these technologies are connected to one another, to business email and other applications, including cloud storage apps. IT departments didn’t wake up one morning and decide they needed cloud-connected apps to support iOS, Android or Blackberry. At one point in time, we connected personal devices to the corporate environment by moving corporate data to consumer applications on personal devices. Many analysts credit the launch of the iPhone to this phenomenon we call bring your own device (BYOD).

Once we got a taste of choosing our own hardware, we let the content proliferate on all of our devices — phones, tablets, laptops, home PCs, etc. — so we could have a final version of the document in any one place for our own convenience. Home and office began to blur … and we now are in an era where the BYO movement extends well beyond the smartphone to the cloud-based services we use.

Now because of this, many organizations are struggling with the issue of Shadow IT and are unable to fully control where the content goes. As a result today, many corporate IT departments have developed a condition, nephophobia: the ‘Fear of Clouds.’ They ask themselves: Is my content safe? Is it stored in a compliant way? Can I get it out if I need to? But, the reality is that often these questions that put the fear of SaaS in many companies cause these organizations to miss out on the very benefits a SaaS model provides: content availability from anywhere on any device, productivity, efficient and transparent content collaboration across global partner networks, built-in compliance and more comprehensive regulatory reporting across multiple applications.

The good news is that technology has improved to the point where the questions from corporate IT can be answered to keep information protected and compliant. Gartner even suggests that the number of cases of nephophobia among enterprises is declining. According to Gartner’s March 27 report on report on coud adoption trends by Ed Anderson, cloud adoption is accelerating and it’s agnostic to geography and vertical. While organizations may have resisted the benefits of cloud-based applications at first, the initial reticence has abated and now SaaS tools are becoming the norm in place of data or applications on centrally managed servers. Businesses have realized they are more productive with the rewards of modern on-demand services.

While this is great news for those of us in the cloud business, the rapid adoption of these ‘*as a Service’ offerings are going to create many challenges to early adopters as regulations race to catch up to the market. Organizations (and there are many) that adopt cloud technologies need to clearly understand the matrix of information governance policies, data security and privacy regulations, and data sovereignty laws that their business may or may not be subject to. And, they need to understand that often times, these laws and regulations may be in conflict with the reality of how information is exchanged during the course of business.

In my next post, I’ll explore some of these data sovereignty challenges and outline best practices and technologies available to securely arm your organization in this new paradigm. For now, you can check out my presentation from Gartner Digital Workplace Summit, “Intralinks: Maintaining Content Control in the Digital Workplace” at Gartner Events on Demand.

Pete Brown

Pete Brown

Pete Brown is the Director of Product Marketing at Intralinks. He has broad industry experience in SaaS applications, with deep expertise in trends and technologies related to information sharing, mobile work and data storage. In his previous role at Sonain, Pete led product marketing for cloud-based email archive with responsibilities including developing market requirements, competitive intelligence and channel enablement programs.