Who will win the race to serve the mobile-ready enterprise?

Vendors are battling out to secure an increasingly mobile workforce, but there are a lot of elements to get right, and comprehensive solutions are lacking

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Gartner estimates that by 2017, less than 10% of today's EFSS destination vendors will offer stand-alone product

Enterprises and their employees are ready for the next generation of software and hardware solutions. Gone are the days that enterprise solutions could be clunky and unattractive as long as they securely performed the required function. Today’s enterprise employees are tech savvy and demand solutions that operate as simply and beautifully as the ones they use in their personal lives.

The recently announced partnership between Apple and IBM highlights the need for secure, easy-to-use mobile offerings for the enterprise. Apple is a leader in creating devices and solutions that are sleek, sophisticated and easy to use, driving legions of fans to regularly upgrade to the newest iPhone or iOS. On the other hand, IBM has long been known for the enterprise solutions it delivers to organisations around the world. Bringing mobile ease of use together with enterprise-grade solutions is an essential next step for organisations planning their mobile strategy and roadmap.  

Ahead of the curve

Employees worldwide have become more technologically savvy, and are now demanding the types of mobile solutions from their office that they use in their personal lives. This includes the ability to use their device of choice, and utilise productivity enhancing apps to get more done faster. Organisations that don’t provide these kinds of solutions for their workers will find themselves falling behind the competition, as employees will be unable to keep up with the pace of daily activity, impacting the company’s bottom line.

Therefore, with more than 100 vendors vying to win the top spot in the enterprise file-sharing race, each offering must prove its worth against its competitors. Gartner’s 2014 EFSS Magic Quadrant report stated that by 2017, less than 10% of today's EFSS destination vendors will offer stand-alone products, and the rest of the vendors will have been absorbed into adjacent markets, such as collaboration, enterprise content management (ECM), mobility and storage. This is because many of these adjunct markets are not just focusing on functionality; they’re looking at the entire user experience around sharing content.

> See also: Taking mobility by the reins: the rise and fall of BYOD

At present, a number of the vendors listed in Gartner’s report are able to provide quality file-sharing solutions, but at the cost of employee efficiency. Too many solutions still focus heavily on individual features that an IT team will require, but do not consider how the user experience will be for those employees that utilise these kinds of solutions multiple times a day, from a variety of devices. What’s needed is a comprehensive blend of collaboration and ease of use for the end users, which in no way compromises security capabilities that IT teams require.

The competitive edge

Enterprise software vendors that don’t account for the desire for these kinds of solutions will also see monetary impacts, as they lag behind competition that build both mobile sophistication and enterprise-grade security into their offerings. Employees are now in the drivers seat, pushing their IT teams to deploy the kinds of productivity solutions they need to get their jobs done. If IT teams don’t comply with their requests, often tech-savvy employees will circumvent the organisation to choose their own solutions, which are often unsecure and consumer-grade.

Too often, data leaks occur because employees are unaware that the way they manage files, through these consumer-grade apps, is unsecure. Employees can be trained on how to securely manage their sensitive data, but it makes much more sense for enterprises to deploy solutions that help secure their content, while enhancing their productivity. While most employees never consider using a non-corporate sponsored email system, those same employees would readily collaborate through a free file-sharing tool, because it is easier to use than what is available from their employer.

> See also: The year for the chief mobility officer 

At the end of the day, it can no longer be a competition between user experience and enterprise security. This is especially critical as more and more organisations move towards a mobile-enabled workforce. Employees might consider trying to use a clunky file sharing or collaboration solutions on a desktop, but on a mobile device these solutions are completely unmanageable, and employees will look for alternate ways to get their work done.

Organisations and vendors that want to lead their industries need to marry secure functionality with mobile ease of use, when creating or deploying new enterprise solutions. Only when this is achieved will we see a leader in this race that is heading beyond simple file sharing, and into true mobile business productivity.

Sourced from Paul Steiner, Managing Director EMEA at Accellion