The enterprise file sync and share market is jam-packed with vendors. If we were to write an article every time one of them makes a tweak, there wouldn’t be enough time to do anything else. So needless to say, we’re not going that route.
However, when one of the vendors that dominates or is disrupting the space does something interesting, we think it’s worth bringing to your attention.
EMC Syncplicity wins time on the center stage today with its new Mobile First strategy. And no, we’re not talking about skinning a desktop experience onto an iPhone or iPad and changing the way the icons look — but literally changing the way you work. Syncplicity’s new app helps you work smarter, more collaboratively and faster.
A Quick Look Back
Remember the days of ugly enterprise apps, when doing some of the things you do at your desktop became possible on a mobile device? Sure, the possibilities were cool, convenience was the promise and the experience, if you wanted to go beyond reading what was on a screen and making a few brief comments, sucked. Many of us kept carrying our laptops with us when we traveled so that we could access the documents that we needed and get “real” work done.
Thank the tech gods that progress comes quick, that screens got larger and that iPads and tablets are quickly becoming more popular that PC’s. Never mind the world full of app developers who aim to delight us.
Most of us who work with and share documents on our mobile devices are reasonably happy with our experiences, provided that the cloud that houses our files and our connection to it stays happy.
Is mobile file sharing a game-changer? Five years ago it was. Today, it’s simply an enabler.
Mobile First: More than Going Mobile
While providing file sync and share functionality brings end-users convenience, it doesn’t leverage many of Mobile’s other capabilities (like location, tracking, and camera) at all.
And if you’re hell-bent on delighting your users, like EMC is, that simply won’t do. Last year the team at Syncplicity set everything aside (metaphorically) and started with a blank slate, asking themselves what the file sharing experience would look like if it had been built Mobile First. Syncplicity’s new mobile apps are the result.
It’s Not a Facelift
Everyone knows that users won’t use their apps unless they like them, so Syncplicity set out to build something that was both aesthetically beautiful and fun. “We were going for a better than consumer-like feel,” said Jeff Schultz, the company’s CMO. For Syncplicity this meant building a new navigational paradigm, contextual menus, and even contextual visuals like “time of day.” It sure beats looking at the file hierarchy shots that most of us envision when we think of file sync and share.
At Your Service
Syncplicity also knows what files and folders you’ve recently worked with, so the app makes it easy for you to access from your home screen. It’s also capable of alerting you as to what documents you need to look at and when.
It’s worth noting that your mobile device knows a lot more about you than your desktop or laptop, giving you, and others, insight into who’s downloading your document and where they are.
One thing Syncplicity has that its competitors don’t is “push” synchronization, so “favorites” can be automatically designated for access offline.
We’re Sharing Pictures
Who hasn’t been in a meeting where someone takes a picture of a whiteboard or a slide? Syncplicity has a cool feature where it can tag who was in the room when the picture was taken, distribute the picture to all involved (or those you select), send follow-ups and so on …
Secure Mobile Editing and Content Creation
With most mobile file sync and share apps, it’s necessary to launch a third party app for edits, with Syncplicity it’s not. Ditto for content creation.
Is It Really a Big Deal?
We don’t have a crystal ball, but we’re in tune with industry trends, and the file sync and share market is about to explode. Workers everywhere are lobbing files onto the cloud and sharing them with intended parties (and who knows who else?) In most cases, the content in those files belongs to the enterprise and not to an individual. There could be serious financial and legal implications.
CEO’s and CIO’s are worried sick about this, the nightmare scenarios are endless, and demanding that workers “behave themselves” isn’t the solution. Some companies have blocked access to services like Dropbox and Box within their firewalls, but even most 14 years olds can tell you that it’s not an effective strategy.
The only viable way for the enterprise to regain control is to offer its stakeholders something that they want to use and that keeps the enterprise safe. Vendors like Box, Dropbox, Syncplicity and others are all aiming to do this.
While the popular, innovative startups in this space have their clear advantages (consumer market share and CEOs with rock star status), Syncplicity has others (not that there’s anything lacking in their fans or management team, in fact, they rock too): namely, its parent: EMC. EMC is one of the most trusted names in information management on the planet and, through it, Syncplicity has access to impenetrable off line storage, connectivity to Documentum and one of the world’s largest IT sales forces.
If Syncplicity can win the favor of the average knowledge worker, its sales will blossom because then everyone in the enterprise will be on the same page. But they’ll have to do this while Dropbox uses its newly minted 250 million to turn enterprise grade and while Box boss Aaron Levie hits the press circuit and makes wisecracks on Twitter.