Yesterday I gave a talk with Dirk Schniedermeier, the CTO of Keolis, at the Gartner Digital Workplace Summit in Orlando. The topic, as you could probably guess, was cloud collaboration and the digital workplace. Namely, how companies like Keolis are embracing the digital workplace trend to create a better, more collaborative environment across all areas of their business. The following are three key takeaways I want to share with you:

Enterprise tools haven’t kept pace with the way we work

Organizations are no longer bound by four walls – today’s enterprise is not just spread out across floors or across a campus, it is spread out across continents with employees and customers needing access to information at all hours of the day, from anywhere. Yet, while the tools we use in our personal lives allow us to collaborate with friends quickly and easily, the tools we use at work just don’t measure up. This is why we’ve seen consumer tools slipping into the workplace. A 2013 survey of 4,000 U.S. and U.K. office workers found that almost half of office workers store work documents on consumer cloud services, while 91 percent store, access, and share via personal devices. The demand for enterprise collaboration tools is only growing, as evidenced by Box’s recent IPO. And yet, while many of these tools are usable workarounds to a point, they are not effective at scale. The bottom line: employees now require a more collaborative, social way to work, one that mirrors the way they work in their personal lives, but for an enterprise environment.

Security is MORE not less important

Not only do consumer tools in the enterprise cause concerns over their ability to scale, they also strike fear in the hearts of IT. Why? Because when corporate documents migrate over employee’s personal Dropbox or Google Drive accounts, IT loses sight of them. This means that they have lost all control of corporate data – not an ideal way to keep this information secure. In fact, the same study cited above found that 73 percent of office workers in the U.S. download personal software and apps on enterprise-owned tablets. More than half use personal laptops, tablets, and smartphones to store and work on enterprise content. We have clients that, having audited their workforce, have found more than 50 file sync and share solutions in active use. As an IT leader that’s an administrative minefield. While increasing mobility has without a doubt improved efficiency and productivity, it’s also surfaced issues around security. What was once locked-down is now flowing freely. Having a partner that not only understands this pain point, but can help alleviate it, is key.

External is as important as internal

Internal collaboration is key to providing the best possible results for customers, but how we communicate with customers themselves is equally important. Without customers a business cannot succeed. We’ve all had the experience of collaborating via email, of multiple versions of a document crossing paths without any real version control. This is an incredibly time consuming and frustrating experience, but when you add a customer into the equation, it’s also a dangerous one. This is why it’s become paramount to not only share and collaborate seamlessly across an organization, but with external parties, as well. There is a reason why 82 percent of “leaders” believe cloud-based collaboration tools help businesses execute faster than would be possible otherwise – it’s because they do!

Collaboration is the first step towards the digital workplace and that’s why it’s at the heart of the intelligent enterprise.

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