Forrester Report: File Sync + Share Buyer Tactics Revealed
Between 2010 and 2012, business use of file sync and share services grew at a monstrous rate, and a recent Forrester Wave outlined some of the segment leaders. Now there's even more details about how vendors really chose those leading companies.

Consumer Tools Invasion

File sync and share tools have been increasingly used in ad hoc implementations, and many were born in the consumer market where workers adopted them under the IT radar. Now CIOs are playing catch up the What File Sync and Share Customers Have Learned Forrester report found, but we can learn from those early adopters.

What matters to them, and what could likely influence others in a similar situation, is ease of use, reliability, vendor partnership, price and security. Forrester analysts Rob Koplowitz, Ted Schadler, TJ Keitt and Andrew Smith surveyed 16 file share and sync vendors and 31 reference customers of those vendors to get the details.

Tools like Dropbox and Google Drive are obviously popular with consumers, and are leading the charge into the enterprise, but Box, EMC and IBM were the Leaders in the Forrester Wave for this segment, and virtually all the other vendors lumped into the strong performer category. Vendors like Alfresco, WatchDox, Microsoft, AirWatch, Accellion and Salesforce were all strong performers.

The reason Dropbox is so popular is because it's easy to use, and that is a key driver in choosing a file sync and share option for the enterprise, the report found. Easy to lean, intuitive interfaces spur adoption among workers because there is less training and down time. It also can lessen the burden on IT support, one respondent said.

Vendors as Partner, Cost + Security

Besides ease of use, having a committed vendor that could act as a partner was a popular way of getting an enterprise wide file sync and share program off the ground. Whether a cloud or on premise deployment, customers said having a vendor who could jump in at any moment and solve problems.

Obviously pricing is part of the equation, but the key point on price was to make sure there were no hidden costs, respondents said. We're talking storage here, and sometimes the amount needed can balloon much higher than is originally estimated. Be sure to check out the pricing on extra storage so there are no surprises. Costs are still low to switch vendors if need be, but it may be simply less of a hassle to think about storage before hand.

Security, like price, is always an issue, and with documents even more so. Once a file sync and share deployment is started, and it rolls out to a wider use base, security needs sometimes change, and vendors aren't always ready to deal with that, the report found. Make sure there are no security roadblocks.

Vendor Choice Starts with Business Requirements

While the above reasons were part of the file sync and share vendor choice process, IT executives did not fail to note how important employee experience was, too. These kind of systems sometimes end up touching nearly every level of an organization, so things like administrative permissions and compliance need to be considered.

A File sync and share system should map to business requirements because the integration is quite technical, but once it's done it's pretty hands off, one respondent said. As to employee work styles, executives often told researchers they needed to empower employees to use the full suite of tools, and get out of the way.

Adopting the system to workers' requirements will make the whole process more seamless, the report found. That's in part why testing out several systems to meet all those needs is recommended. A proof of concept is certainly needed, one respondent said.

"Vendors promise the moon and a lot of their functionality doesn't work as advertised," one respondent said.

The pilot programs also tend to help out the vendors because customers end up pointing out needed functions that were missing or could be added later, the report found. Between this report and the Wave, organizations should have a good amount of information to help select a proper system, so tell us in the comments if you are implementing a company wide project or if ad hoc systems are still in place for now.