Built on ever-growing networks of individuals, teams, clients, partners and suppliers, organizations are no longer just distributed across an office, they’re distributed across the globe. To work seamlessly across organizational and geographical boundaries, it’s more important than ever that we’re able to collaborate easily with these people whether they are inside or outside of our organization’s firewall. And yet, as we gain access to more and more tools for creating and sharing documents, these tools usually don’t work together, creating audit and security issues.

To address this challenge, cloud collaboration solutions have become central to today’s enterprise technology stack, allowing organizations to free themselves from restrictive legacy IT infrastructure and collaborate more effectively. But where do you begin, and how do you balance data security with the needs of a more mobile and dispersed workforce?

This week we’ll be covering the 10 questions every enterprise should ask their collaboration provider.

1. Many tools can compromise your ability to work externally. Collaboration shouldn’t be confined to the corporate firewall. To succeed, today’s agile enterprise must be able to connect and collaborate seamlessly with external stakeholders (clients, partners, suppliers etc.) while maintaining control over sensitive data. When choosing a solution look for one that can deliver mutual access to shared, collaborative spaces while retaining the permissions and security management controls you need to protect your data.

2. Mobility has become mandatory for today’s agile enterprise. Whether travelling
or working at a client site, your users expect to be able to access the information
they need, when they need it. Look for a tools that offers native apps for smartphones and tablets, with offline availability and MDM support to ensure the security of your data.

3. Balancing security with usability can be a challenge for many collaboration tools. Striking the right balance is critical to end-user adoption. Where solutions become too complex and restrictive to be usable, users will often default back to less secure methods of sharing content and collaborating on work. Including key stakeholders, from IT and Security to business users, in the decision making process will improve adoption and reduce the risk of shadow IT.

4. When working on multiple projects or engagements means working on lots of different documents. Very quickly simple actions like finding the document you need become a source of frustration. Don’t overlook serach tools when choosing a vendor -- look for a tool that combines best-in-class:

  • response times (how quickly your search requests are returned)
  • targeted search (how easy it is to refine your search to specific areas and workspaces) and
  • user interface (how easy the tool makes it to get back to recent files)

5. We’ve  mentioned security in a number of times and for good reason. Building enterprise-wide trust in a solution demands confidence in its security credentials. Assess collaboration vendors on:

  • technical safeguards (the robustness of encryption),
  • physical safeguards (the security of the vendors’ data centers and premises) and
  • administrative safeguards (does the vendor and its partners work to ISO 27001 standards?)

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