In business, one of the best ways to increase productivity is to facilitate the flow of data. Cloud computing has done exactly that. With services like Dropbox and Google Drive, employees can share and sync files, access them on multiple devices and work from anywhere with an internet connection.
As the organisation explores this new found flexibility, there’s a danger that its information could be dispersed over a range of storage services, locations and shared folders. This is data fragmentation, and it’s a threat to core business functions.
Collaboration is Changing
In the early days of the internet, it was difficult to share large documents online due to the speed of connections and the primitive nature of the web. The cloud has changed all that. Software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications exploit cloud computing and make it possible for teams to work online in real time. ‘Large File Send’ offered by Mimecast is one such example of this.
Everywhere, businesses try to organise data storage in central locations, but often users create their own workarounds to suit the task at hand. Despite your best efforts, users will autonomously use their own cloud storage accounts if they feel that enterprise tools do not help them to achieve their goals.
As data is distributed randomly, it fragments; it is impossible to keep track of versions, or make informed decisions. Data quality drops. Compliance becomes a problem. Even if data is stored centrally, fragmentation becomes a resource issue as data is duplicated unnecessarily. Without audits, the cost of storage will spiral out of control.
Improving Data Efficiency
Controlling and managing storage means dealing with data efficiently. That means having a policy to protect against fragmentation, whilst also giving your employees the tools they need to collaborate and share.
In an ideal world, data should always be kept in-house, since this is the safest place for it. Data is a business’ biggest asset; it is the lifeblood of the marketing department, the support department, customer services and more. If data is allowed to escape the business, there is a risk to profit, confidentiality and a potential breach of data protection law. To prevent this, the business must consider the user’s needs first, then work back from there to design an elegant solution.
If the business fails to give workers what they ask for, there is a risk that company data will be stored on third party cloud services. Whilst the cloud is incredibly secure, the fact remains that this workaround illustrates a failing on the part of the business to anticipate its users’ needs. Forward-thinking businesses are already looking to services like Dropbox to inspire their next generation of remote working and collaborative solutions.
The best route to efficient data management is to understand the different needs of users. A one-size-fits-all solution is unlikely to suffice, but cloud computing makes hybrid storage and collaboration platforms easy to implement and affordable in practice.
The business still needs to enforce a data management policy, but this needs to fit in with the workers’ requirements. With the right approach, private, hybrid and public cloud solutions can be used to give employees the flexibility they need.