Archive for July, 2008

Enhanced Governance and Control: Solving “File share-itis”

July 1, 2008

In today’s challenging business environment, organizations of every size have either internal or external concerns about their information control and management. This can range from simply being concerned about losing information or information leaking outside of the organization; to who has access to sensitive or controlled information; to extensive and sophisticated regulatory requirements governing the way an organization must manage, protect, use, and track their critical business information. These have all been traditional benefits associated with ECM and the value it offers to an organization. One very specific and increasingly alarming issue that I hear from my customers is that they are highly concerned about what they don’t know that might be contained in their vast corporate network shared drives. This particular issue is now being referred to as “file share-itis.”

Of course, companies have for years used shared network drives or shared file paths as a pseudo-collaboration and information storage mechanism. As we all know, necessity is the mother of invention, and through our technology evolution, these have become the methodology used by so many organizations to store, share, and “manage” their business documents and information. Even organizations that have deployed ECM applications continue to use file shares pervasively.

I attribute this trend to the unfortunate reality that ECM solutions have fallen short of opportunities because of high license fees, complexity, cumbersome user experiences, and low enterprise-wide adoption rates. The problem that exists with file shares is that we can’t control or manage content we don’t know about.

Most organizations will candidly admit that this is a growing fear and discomfort because over the years, the sheer volume of information stored on these drives has reached overwhelming volumes. Herein lies one of the fundamental interests and business value opportunities for SharePoint. Unlike legacy ECM vendors, Microsoft has attempted to delicately balance controlling information with the resources and manageability required to support the governance and controlling system.

Companies want control, but without exorbitant costs and resource/support requirements. SharePoint is being positioned to provide control at an attractive cost with a reduced managed system as a key benefit. And this is one of the reasons that SharePoint resonates with so many organizations today and is being so carefully and diligently explored as a new business technology.

It can provide organizations with the ability to eliminate “file share-itis” by providing security controlled access, management, and policy administration (including retention policies) for information—all readily available to users on their desktops within a Microsoft-centric user experience.