Standalone file sync and share is dying and it’s not just me that sees its imminent demise. When Gartner unveiled its Magic Quadrant for the Enterprise File Synchronization and Sharing (EFSS) market, the analyst house predicted that less than 10 per cent of today’s vendors would still offer standalone offerings in 2017. Yesterday’s news that Microsoft and Dropbox have joined forces to let users of Microsoft Office sync and share documents in Dropbox, in addition to Microsoft’s OneDrive, further validated this point as it recognises that users want to choose different file sync and share services underneath the applications they use.

So, why is standalone EFSS slowly disappearing? File sync and share has always been about solving the problem of backing up a user’s documents at the same time as making them available on all of the user’s devices, mobile as well as PC. However, as more and more applications, such as Microsoft Office, themselves move to the cloud, pure file sync and share solutions are becoming commoditized, and are appearing as a feature, both in the productivity applications, as well as more powerful team collaboration solutions. The latter, designed specifically to enable teams to work better together, increasing productivity, and creating new ways to interact with customers, partners and suppliers, is where the true value lies for enterprise and government organizations.

The fact is, while standalone EFSS offerings are extremely useful for the individual, giving them instant access to their content on any device, they present a huge challenge for enterprises and distributed teams. Having enterprise content fragmented and stashed all over the place, without audit trails, comments and context, not only leads to potential security breaches but confusion for teams. How do people know if they’re looking at the latest version, who has provided feedback on documents and who still needs to review and approve the content?

While Microsoft and Dropbox’s partnership sees Dropbox shift further towards solutions for enterprise workers, the important thing to keep in mind is that editing plus syncing does not equal a collaboration offering. Yes people may be able to get to files faster, edit files, sync across all their devices and share with their team, but there’s a lack of context, intelligence, and effective ways to organise and present content to external customers, partners and suppliers. Teams need to be able to connect with each other, their content and work together in a secure, central environment that provides information in context and with full audit trails.

Intelligently surfacing content and context, as well as organising content securely, lie at the heart of true collaboration and this is what today’s workforce, enterprises and government organizations need.

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