Wall Street Journal Debate: Should Companies Allow Employees to Use Consumer File-Sharing Services?

Why would you expose your company to the threat of snooping, data loss, corporate espionage and outright theft?
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Remove “consumer” and there is no debate – file sync and share, as Ted Schadler of Forrester writes: “…make it a cinch to move files from a computer to a tablet to a smartphone to another computer and back again. And it’s a much better solution than email for sharing a bucket of files with others.”

But, as a responsible employee, IT admin or executive, why would you expose your company to the threat of snooping, data loss, corporate espionage and outright theft?

Yes yes yes, Dropbox, Google and others of their ilk have encryption and other security measures, but all it takes is one lost phone, one employee with misplaced judgment, even one perhaps over-zealous government official and there goes yet another Dropbox problem.

Mr. Schadler shocked us a bit by his:
“So, should IT organizations allow employees to use these cloud-based services? That question is patently absurd. Why should an IT organization dictate what employees do to get their work done? Who made IT responsible for policing employee behavior and tools?”

Yes, employees are innovating how technology is used, but a company still has to adhere to privacy and regulatory laws and companies don’t want sensitive data leaking out of the building. Corporations are not democracies, and following regulatory requirements, reporting requirements, privacy laws – this is not optional. Every day the management team makes decisions on what works gets done and how, including tasking the IT department with securing sensitive corporate data. This has been, and always should be an important part of their role. IT departments are responsible for giving employees technology that BOTH adhere to policy and make these employees productive.

So again, why should corporations settle for basic consumer-grade apps and third-party storage? Granted, it is vital that end users get an incredibly easy access tool – or they’ll just go back to broadcasting company data on Dropbox. So, give end users a “consumer-grade” experience, but give IT back control of the data, using the tools THEY have and the choice of where to store the data, who has access to it and ways to track its access. Everybody wins.

Seems a no-brainer to us – and, by the way, to the hundreds of businesses we’ve talked to worldwide already just this month.

An analyst no less than Gartner’s Gene Ruth calls this IT’s “hair on fire” problem. We call it the Dropbox problem. We help you solve it.

PS: The WSJ also has a voting going on: “Should companies block employees from using online file-sharing services?” Voice your opinion in a comment or just a vote!

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May 16, 2013

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