Sink and share?
It seems like analyst types and talking heads (that’s me) are always looking for whitespace – after all, one way to add value to a domain is to point out places where either practitioners and organizations aren’t paying enough attention or will soon be paying lots of attention. For me, one of the most glaring swaths of whitespace in enterprise content management (ECM) is the integration between sync and share capabilities and behind the firewall ECM platforms.
If you work in ECM, the reasons for this make sense: most Fortune 500 organizations already have ECM platforms in place and over the last three years, their employees have been adopting sync and share tools like crazy, for a number of reasons:
- IT offers no in house tools for file sharing outside the firewall
- IT tools for file sharing don’t meet user requirements
- IT tools for file sharing don’t work with end user devices (mobile/tablet or Macs)
- Fears about data integrity and IT’s ability to make sure my files don’t go missing
And although there are a bunch of sync and share tools out there, for large organizations, Box has been at the forefront. they’ve got lots of corporate users out there, lots of big organizations have official contracts with them, and they are gearing up for a big IPO. And until recently, there’s been an uneasy coexistence between ECM and Box, with both sides kind of doing their own thing–not really excited to share the stage with the other side, but not doing anything overt to crush them either.
I’ve been telling clients for some time now that this situation is coming to a head and that the Box/ECM coexistence is rushing headlong towards a less than amicable stand off. With the big three ECM platforms developing their own sync and share capabilities and Microsoft going like gangbusters on O365, there’s a rough beast slouching towards Bethlehem to be born…and for my money, it doesn’t bode well for Box and the other independent sync and share platforms.
This week we got what I think is the opening salvo in the coming conflict between ECM and sync and share: OpenText filing suit against Box for copyright infringements. Now, I don’t want to weigh in on the merits of the case – I know too little about the under the hood technology to say anything intelligent. But I do think that, the merits of the case aside, this is just the first conflict of many that are coming between ECM and sync and share.
And, unless sync and share vendors can develop robust, effective integration between their solutions and their customers’ ECM repositories, I’m afraid that independent sync and share tools are doomed: who would want to create the mess and headache of a behind the firewall repository and a public one with only a homegrown integration (or no integration) between them–especially when your ECM vendor has its own integrated sync and share solution? You guessed it…no one.
So much for what this talking head thinks, what about you all out there? Am I being too chicken little about the future of independent sync and share? Or do you agree that the writing is on the wall for Box and others? Jump in and let’s get the conversation started!