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Enterprise-focused cloud storage and collaboration vendors are struggling to overtake consumer focused offerings in the enterprise

Enterprise-focused cloud storage and collaboration vendors are struggling to overtake consumer focused offerings in the enterprise

Although the number of enterprise-focused players entering the cloud storage marketing seems to be growing each month, recently published research suggests consumer offerings still account for the bulk of the solutions used in businesses today. Of employees using file sync and share tools at work, 89 per cent are using consumer products and just 9 per cent of those using these services claim to be satisfied with the commercial, enterprise-focused offerings given to them by their corporate IT department, according to Ovum.

A survey of over 5,000 full-time employees completed by the analyst firm indicates most of today’s digital workforce is sticking with familiar consumer tools to share corporate documents, accessing them primarily from their mobile devices.

About 29 per cent of respondents using the technology are employing a combination of three or more consumer and commercial products to support their work, while 44 per cent is not using file sync and share products at all – relying instead on email and memory sticks to move corporate data around.

Richard Edwards, principal analyst at Ovum said the findings suggest enterprise-focused cloud-based share and sync vendors are struggling to cater to all of the potential use cases enterprises present them with, which is impacting their share of the landscape.

“These figures paint an anarchic picture of file sharing and document-centric collaboration within the workplace,” Edwards said. “While there may be an enterprise file sync and share solution to address almost every business need, there is no product that meets them all.”

“No commercial product is dominating the workplace,” he said.

Edwards explained that the growing popularity of consumer-focused cloud offerings like Google Drive and Apple iCloud in the enterprise demonstrates the effects that mobile devices and the consumerisation of IT are having on the enterprise.

But he also pointed out that Microsoft is still “omnipresent in this market,” with the prevalence of its productivity software giving it a solid foot in the door when it comes to cloud storage and collaboration.

Meanwhile, both Google and Box are redoubling efforts to bolster their storage and collaboration services in enterprises.

Google recently rebranded the application portfolio offered through its enterprise business unity to Google for Work, and Box has redoubled efforts to target industry verticals with tailored file sharing and collaboration platforms for healthcare, retail, and media & entertainment. Both vendors continue to stick with the freemium model, which lets users deploy a limited set of services for free but requires payment for more premium features like higher storage thresholds or more robust permissioning capabilities.

“As always, the challenge for CIOs and IT managers is to identify the solution that best meets the organization’s current and future requirements, with regard to a broad set of employee roles and business use cases,” Edwards said. “Herein lies the problem, as no single product on the market today offers everything that a large enterprise is likely to need.”

John Williams, product manager at Node4, a recent entrant into the cloud-based file share and sync space, agreed with Edwards’ observations, and said the survey results aren’t all that surprising given how companies like Google and Dropbox have split their offerings to appeal to both business and consumer audiences.

“What often happens is a company will see many employees bringing in their own platforms, and move to officially support one of those or one of them,” Williams told BCN.

But he also explained that within IT itself there is still strong appetite for cloud-based storage and collaboration platforms that store data locally, offer more robust security guarantees, and integrate with existing services – particularly among more regulated UK companies.

“One of the major problems with adopting something like Google Drive as an enterprise is that data is constantly shifted around the globe and split over servers in multiple geographies, which significantly limits what you can use that platform for in many cases within the UK,” he said.

“If you’re a building contractor you’re probably not too concerned but if you’re a legal practitioner, these are real issues. It’s about leading, and having those discussions within the business at the outset that’s important,” he added.

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