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Time to Tighten Your Belts – Would you rather be safe or sorry?

According to Osterman Research, 95% of business users primarily communicate via email. Of emails sent, 98% were sent with attachments. Secure? Highly doubtful. Mobile devices and BYOD, has unlocked a hornets nest and has put security of confidential information at risk. In the BYOD world, who owns the content, the owner of the device or the organization? Does the organization have the right to access the device to identify confidential information? Current court cases will decide the outcome.

Complicating security issues, social has entered the business world. Accepted in a court of law, the organization is responsible for tweets, social postings, Facebook, and instant messaging, even if it is an end users personal account. Security breaches should be an organizational priority. Did you know that most breaches are caused internally, either through negligence or deliberately? And the security holes only grow deeper into sink holes with no escape.

Oddly enough, C-level folks state unequivocally that they are concerned with cloud security. Rightly so. On the other side of the coin, they tend not to do a lot about it. Some have the attitude that a couple of million dollars to remedy the situation is pocket change as opposed to being prepared for the worst. It isn’t only the money, for better or for worse the impact on the brand and the attitude of customers can be worth much more than remediation. It takes years to build a brand, and depending on the data exposure, it can be destroyed.

They have made their perimeter a fortress, but most exposures are internal. Spending time documenting your security holes within the organization may influence organizations with lax rules to tighten their belts on security processes, access, and define what is and what is not confidential.

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Keeping the Lights On When Your Cloud Provider Can’t.

Does your organization have a business continuity plan as well as a disaster plan if your SaaS provider goes belly up? For whatever reason, goes out of business, abruptly turns out the lights, catastrophes, server crashes, data breaches? If you don’t why not?

Sponsored by Iron Mountain, IDG in its white paper ‘When the Cloud Evaporates’, one-third of the survey respondents said they had subscribed to mission critical SaaS applications and the provider did not meet expectations of support. What was the result? I guess it was quite a surprise and some organizations were totally unprepared. According to the survey, the organizations:

“Transferred workload to another vendor and filed a lawsuit
•Caused numerous setbacks and problems
•Incurred costs
•Needed to find a tactical solution until a long term strategic solution could be put in place
•Scrambled to pick up the application, provide on-going maintenance, and engage in an alternative partners
•Some solutions have had to be done in-house as work arounds”

In any event, not a pretty situation. IDG recommends not only a business continuity plan as well as a disaster plan. “You need something more: a business continuity strategy that works in any situation not addressed by the providers Disaster Recovery strategy. This gives you access to your applications and data to keep the lights on even if you SaaS provider can’t.”

This was a short white paper, but very interesting. I would recommend reading it if you do have business critical SaaS applications – or even if you don’t but are thinking about the cloud. (Registration is required)

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Collaboration is Great! Says who?

A couple of years back, executives were very strongly against collaboration and business social applications. The tide has turned and they are gung how now. During this same period, end users became stubborn and for the most part refused to participate or engage in these approaches. This is still the biggest reason for lack of adoption and abandonment of tools expected to encourage communication and sharing of information. At least that’s what 99.9% of analysts tell us. No one will use them. The exception – Google.

I just read a Google survey, conducted by Raconteur, where results were consistently highly positive on the benefits of collaboration. In a nutshell, the survey found:

  • 88% of response indicated their company fosters a culture of knowledge-sharing and collaboration’ agree that ‘employee morale and job satisfaction is high in their company
  • 73% of respondents agree that their organization would be a more successful organization if employees were able to work in a more flexible way
  • 56% of respondents ranked a collaboration-related measure as having the biggest impact on their organization’s profitability
  • 53% of respondents are confident that collaboration is currently having a positive and tangible impact on their organization

I am often not able to connect the dots without assistance. In this case, I did. I then went back and looked at who the survey was sent to. Guess what? The survey included senior staff and C-suite executives at 258 North American companies representing a wide range of business sectors and sizes. So, the responses are not really surprising. I would like to see the same survey using the responses of the business users.

Interesting follow-up project.

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Collaboration versus Social – It’s time to redefine the terms

A new report, ‘Microsoft Collaboration Usage‘, written by suggests the most common activity among business people using Microsoft collaboration tools is document sharing, and much of that activity occurs early in the week, on Monday and Tuesday. If you ask the typical end user they will define collaboration as email.

So, that’s what collaboration is all about? Something is wrong here. Not that I am against document sharing or easy access, it’s just in my mind I don’t associate that with collaboration. The definition of collaboration by Merriam Webster is: “to work with another person or group in order to achieve or do something”. File sharing and document access doesn’t seem to jive with the definition. The report, by is a very interesting paper and, although it focuses on Microsoft, it could apply to any enterprise cloud platform. I would assume the end statistics would be quite similar.

According to the report, the most popular activity conducted by users on mobile devices using was online and offline document access, both  81%, but I would have expected that percentage to be high. On the other hand, “business users opened documents 68 times more often than they participated in Yammer discussions. Just three percent of users conducted document searches, and less than two percent participated in Yammer discussions, viewed activity streams, or looked up a colleague’s SharePoint profile, according to”

I think it’s time to redefine the term collaboration. Collaboration is much more than accessing documents. Social, on the other hand, the Yammer’s of the world, is focused on communication. If we really delineate the terms, social is pretty much of a bust, according to this report and the term collaboration, in reality, doesn’t even exist. I say call it what it is. Document access both online and offline. It is not collaboration as I see it.

Do you see it differently?

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Choosing a Social Tool? Did you think of millennials versus baby boomers?

I was reading an article, “Why CIO’s can’t sell enterprise collaboration tools”, and one of the reasons given included the difference between how millennials versus baby boomers does come into play. To be quite honest, the thought never entered my mind. But, it is rather intriguing.

This may seem a minor point, but social and collaboration tool adoption is pretty dismal. And as the baby boomers age (unfortunately), sooner or later the millennials will be the majority and running the organization. According to the article, “Millennials are more comfortable with video, short messaging and have embraced newer collaboration tools like Slack and HipChat while older execs are still trying to master WebEx and GoToMeeting, and unfortunately there’s no common ground.” Rather brought a smile to my face, as the statement hit the mark.

I am a huge proponent of end user participation in the purchase of any type of collaboration or social tool. Since the primary problem with these tools is end user adoption – then ask the business professionals and end users to participate in the decision. How many times somewhere in your career, did you think of management as clueless as to what really happens in the trenches? Most likely, the baby boomers are the execs and the worker bees are the millennials. Acknowledge the differences and try to find common ground. It might make all the difference in success or failure.

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Facebook at Work – Joining the old boys club?

Facebook at Work, is joining the enterprise market. Will it succeed in becoming an enterprise tool, when its entire life has been focused on consumer social marketing? Although the product was released in January of 2015, it certainly isn’t making a splash in the news. In fact, it is almost impossible to find any mention of it at all. Finally, after wasting quite a bit of time, it seems it is still in its infancy and the company doesn’t want to share any information about it at all. So there we go.

The grapevine has it that news feeds, groups, likes, comments, and messages are all part of Facebook, except all the information is related to the organization. Business people follow each other and their newsfeeds are based on interactions with each other.

Security will most likely be the major concern. Josh Lindenmuth, CIO of payroll and HR software company Payce, says Facebook at Work is interesting but it doesn’t currently meet his company’s needs. “Facebook makes it too easy to share information,” Lindenmuth says. “The reason it works for social applications is the same reason why many CIOs will be reluctant to use it.”

IT Resistance
Facebook will come up against heavy resistance around security, data sovereignty, control and trust, according to Stuart Barr, CTO of the software firm HighQ. “Consumer features don’t translate directly to the enterprise, and using social tools inside businesses is very different,” Barr wrote in response to’s questions. “They require governance, configurability, careful adoption strategies and deep integration with legacy systems of record.” Facebook also has an advantage over competitors because it could gain a foothold in enterprise through slow adoption; other business collaboration platforms are typically all-or-nothing endeavors.

What’s the business model?
It seems, as of now, Facebook hasn’t figured that out yet. Rumor has it they are thinking about advertising, just what I want at work, is advertisements. Hopefully that will get a thumbs down. They also face a great deal of competition with services such as Yammer, Slack, LinkedIn, and Quip. And then there is still an aura of untrustworthiness associated with Facebook.

For Facebook the enterprise represents a huge opportunity. But, is the enterprise ready to embrace Facebook?

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Office 365 Compliance Search for eMail and Content -Good but not Good Enough

According to our third annual Microsoft Survey, the use of Exchange is almost a given. So is the rise of data breaches, which is most likely caused by your own employees. Security in Exchange for the identification of potential exposure can be done through the use of Compliance Search. This will enable administrators to search for common strings such as social security number, credit card numbers, or account numbers. The searches can be saved and re-executed. Concept Searching adds value to the identification of data privacy or confidential information, regardless of where it resides because it is not limited to defined descriptors such as a social security number, but can contain any descriptor and verbiage that you want secured.

Most security products, including Office 365 Compliance Search will identify the most likely, and standard descriptors typically used by most organizations. Sometimes that doesn’t always work. Confidential information, For Official Use Only (FOUO), new product information, competitive information, intellectual property, patents, or specific customer information may all contain confidential information, but it’s not easy as each subject may not have a common denominator to use as a rule. What to do then?

Concept Searching lets the organization quickly define rules that contain descriptors (social security number) and/or associated verbiage. Since we generate multi-term metadata that forms a concept the organization has no limit or bottlenecks trying to secure specific information. Once found, using Office 365 or SharePoint tools the content can be redirected to a secure repository, removed from search, and portability is prevented. Pretty cool. The rules are easily added, deleted if no longer necessary, and can be changed as the content the organization considers confidential may also change. In SharePoint, taxonomies can be deployed and when a document is found to have a data breach, the content type is automatically changed and classified against the taxonomy. Works when content is created or ingested, and in real-time. It works with diverse repositories, SharePoint, Office 365, You name it, you’re totally covered.

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Poor Yammer, Lost and Now Found – We Think

Yammer was acquired by Microsoft back in 2012, for the mere paltry sum of $1.2 billion dollars. The reason given was to compete with, Oracle, and IBM. Unfortunately that hasn’t happened yet. Big hoopla followed the announcement and everyone was on the Yammer bandwagon. Then silence. Somehow Yammer was being overshadowed by other Office 365 products. Where did it go and why? It appears it’s back again, but with not as much hoopla now. Many classify Yammer as a micro-blogging tool, Microsoft decided (June 2015) to call it a ‘team collaboration tool’. I’m not sure I know the difference. Subtle I guess. Clear as mud.

The issues with Yammer, and Delve for that matter, is that user acceptance is a problem, despite management support. That applies to all social business applications, not just Microsoft. According to usage, Yammer uptake is fast and then dwindles because users can’t seem to absorb it into their daily routine. Organizations such as ours, use it as the corporate post-a-note and post everything on Yammer – as a result, I don’t use it as 99% of the information is irrelevant. For a social business application to be a success, there has to be some value to the end user that makes their job easier, faster, more productive. Or, they just won’t use it. There are some highly sophisticated and robust social business applications available that do just that. Although, in Microsoft’s defense they recently did add a few features to Yammer, and I may add, business features.

In an excellent review of business social applications, in which Yammer is included, Real Story Group found, “Yammer tends to focus on microblogging for its own sake, rather than more advanced applications; thus it does not solve SharePoint’s application problems. Functional thinness and siloed streams means that many customers have seen a drop off in adoption after making the initial connection. Yammer usage can explode (at least initially) within an organization. However, be prepared for Yammer usage to become a kind of siloed stream within your broader digital workplace. Yammer is good for what it does, but after initial connections are made, sometimes usage drops off as employees struggle to place the service within the regular workflow of their daily work.”

The Enterprise Collaboration & Social Software Evaluation Report

Real Story Group

The problem described above, despite the industry problem of user acceptance, is the business benefits are not clearly articulated. For Yammer, it didn’t turn out to be as ‘intuitive’ as Microsoft first claimed. I remember months ago, Microsoft actually ran a contest that Yammer end users (a primarily Microsoft Yammer group) had to use the product correctly and they could win a prize. Not surprisingly I got quite a chuckle about that one. If a highly technical audience couldn’t figure out how to use it, who to use it to, and when to respond to whom, how are the rest of us?

I guess we’ll just wait and see what Yammer is to become next month. Unless it gets lost again.

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