Archive for the ‘Emerging Tech’ Category

FileCloud’s Version 21.2 Makes Work Easier with Compliance Center, Workflow Automation, and Integrations

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is FileCloud-21.2-Release-Banner-1024x576.jpg

We’re always working to make FileCloud better for you. That’s why our 21.2 release focuses on ways to make your life easier.

Let’s get started looking at these new features.

ITAR Compliance Center

Our new Compliance Center is a useful and important tool for your compliance and IT managers. It helps you save time and money by making complex regulations easy to understand while connecting requirements with policies and settings that you can implement with just a few clicks. This allows admins to instantly note and fix compliance issues following FileCloud’s best practice recommendations.

ITAR (United States International Traffic in Arms Regulation) requires companies involved in the manufacture, sales, or distribution of defense-related articles to comply with certain guidelines to ensure that confidential information does not leave the US and is not leaked to criminals, civilians, or any potential threats.

Failure to comply with these regulations can involve civil or criminal penalties for companies and organizations. The good news is that with FileCloud’s new ITAR Compliance Center, it’s easier than ever to ensure your company is compliant.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is FC-CC8-1-1024x725.png

Figure 1: Compliance Center Overview Page

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is FC-CC-7-1024x725.png

Figure 2: Issue Preventing Compliance Screen

The tool also lets you archive event logs for easy reporting and auditing purposes and is easily customizable. Meaning, if you already have a solution for a regulation in place outside of your FileCloud environment, administrators can easily bypass the rule within the Compliance Center.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Compliance-Center-Update-Rule.png1_-1024x725.png

Figure 3: Rule Update Screen in Compliance Center

With our new Compliance Center, you can continue to share your files with confidence, knowing that you’ve dotted your i’s and crossed your t’s when it comes to ITAR regulations.

Workflow Automation

Workflow automation is one of the things we’re most excited about with FileCloud 21.2’s release! This new feature helps users work smarter by providing the ability to build simple to complex workflows that streamline important business processes.

Managers can create and share workflows for everything from simple tasks like signature retrieval to more complex work like contract reviews.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Full-Workflow-4-1024x725.jpg

Figure 4: Full Workflow Overview

As you can see, automating tasks is easy with our no-code design. Users can use the drag-and-drop tool to build workflows, and managers can share custom workflows with their teams to help prevent errors and accomplish important objectives.

Running workflows can be viewed in a dashboard so you can see work happening in real-time, correct any oversights in automation, and download reports with a click of a button.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is W-Dashboard-2-1024x725.jpg

Figure 5: Workflow Dashboard
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is W-Dashboard-3-1024x725.jpg

Figure 6: Workflow Dashboard Activity

You can use this tool in many different departments within your company including:

  • Marketing collaboration and press and product releases
  • Sales contract review and client notifications
  • HR expedited onboarding and time-off and expense approvals
  • Finance forecasting and invoice approvals

Microsoft Teams Integrations

You asked for Microsoft Teams Integration, and we delivered! With FileCloud 21.2 you can now integrate Teams with FileCloud using the new app.

This allows your team to continue to collaborate using Teams, without sacrificing the security and customization you love about FileCloud. This new integration includes special features like:

  • Easily finding files and sending share links in the Teams message bar
  • Sharing direct links from your teams or network folders to your Microsoft Teams Contacts (no external FileCloud login required!)
  • A FileCloud tab within Teams’ sidebar menu (allowing users the same functionality as opening FileCloud in a web browser)
  • Accessing File Details (including metadata, comments, and version history)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is MS-Teams-Integration-Direct-Link.png1_-1024x725.png

Figure 7: MS Teams Direct Link

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is MS-Teams-Integration-Share-Options.png1_-1024x725.png

Figure 8: MS Teams Share Link
We created FileCloud so you could have secure and customized file sharing. With our Microsoft Teams integration, you can collaborate with confidence, knowing your files are secure and easily shareable.

OnlyOffice Integrations

We want you to be able to use the tools you’re familiar with, without having to toggle back and forth between different programs. That’s why FileCloud is now integrated with OnlyOffice.

Now you can edit, view, and collaborate on OnlyOffice documents, presentations, and spreadsheets within your FileCloud system.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is I2-1024x725.png

Figure 9: OnlyOffice Integration Web Edit

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 1-1024x725.png

Figure 10: OnlyOffice Team Collaboration

Access and collaborate with your team on your OnlyOffice files with a click while still using FileCloud’s secure and customized file sharing.

And don’t forget, FileCloud also allows unlimited File Versioning, so you can work on your OnlyOffice files with confidence, knowing you have a backup available with a click of a button.

Private Key Support for FileCloud Online

We’re always working to provide you with top-level enterprise security, and your files are now even more secure on FileCloud Online. With Version 21.2, FileCloud Online now provides customer-managed encryption in addition to Amazon S3-managed encryption. Create and manage your own encryption key or utilize the Key Management Service (KMS) in your Amazon Web Services account. Either option provides you with greater control and privacy when it comes to your data. This is a feature that is already available with FileCloud Server.

FileCloud uses Amazon’s S3 storage services, with built-in SSL encryption for data in transit and 256-bit encryption for data at rest. Admins can now configure different server-side encryptions for data at rest using Amazon’s S3 storage services and Key Management Service (KMS) with both FileCloud Online and FileCloud Server.

Any new files are quickly encrypted without any service interruption. Users can access and share these files with confidence, as the files will be securely encrypted and decrypted with the secure FileCloud Online environment, without the need for any extra steps from the user.

More Details…

We’ve shown you the things we’re most excited about with FileCloud 21.2’s release, but you can read more about each feature in FileCloud 21.2’s release notes.

As always, if you need help with integration or using any new features, our team is available for you.

Compliance Center Comparison – FileCloud vs. Microsoft 365

Compliance with government regulations is a critical element for businesses and organizations. These regulations aim to ensure operational integrity, safety, and ethical behavior, and have become wider-reaching thanks to technological advancements that have connected industries all around the world.

Many regulations specifically address security and privacy concerns related to the sharing of information, which extends to digital data shared over networks. High-profile regulations include:

  • European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), affecting data privacy of EU citizens
  • U.S. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), protecting patient-information rights and privacy
  • Sarbanes-Oxley or the Public Company Accounting Reform and Investor Protection Act, mandating accurate and reliable corporate disclosures for financial records
  • and the U.S. International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), which controls the manufacture, sale, and distribution of defense and space-related articles and services as defined in the United States Munitions List (USML).

These are only a few well-known regulations among many. For a company or organization to function properly, understanding relevant regulatory requirements is critical. These regulations protect individuals, companies, and governments from malpractice or malfeasance and help prevent injury and loss on small and large scales.

Failing to comply with regulations can lead to strict and significant financial penalties. For example, Google paid out nearly $43 million to resolve a GDPR case levied against them by France’s National Commission on Informatics and Liberty (CNIL). Similarly, Airbus had to pay nearly $4 billion and Honeywell paid $13 million to resolve their respective ITAR compliance issues.

On the other hand, the complexity of the regulatory landscape makes it difficult for companies to implement solutions that address requirements. The solutions available (or developed in response) can incur heavy costs in time and resources.

In recognition of the struggles and challenges that come with compliance, software and technology companies are developing intuitive platforms and tools to provide additional support and clarity. The overall impact could lead to cost-savings of millions of dollars on penalty fees and restitution payouts.

These solutions are designed to support compliance and business managers as well as IT administrators meet regulatory requirements across an organization’s information storage and sharing activities, thereby promoting improved cybersecurity.

In this article, we will provide a functional overview of two solutions: FileCloud Compliance Center and Microsoft 365 Compliance Center.

 

FileCloud’s Compliance Center

FileCloud Compliance Center Dashboard view, with recent activity and issues summary

What is the FileCloud Compliance Center?

FileCloud’s Compliance Center is a new feature launched with the 21.2 release. This tool is designed to leverage the full strength of FileCloud’s existing comprehensive security and sharing features, such as smart classification, custom metadata, and data leak protection.

For example, metadata tags can be created for defense articles and technical data, which are then applied to documents using Smart Classification. DLP rules connected with the Classification Engine ensures that no files with this metadata can be publicly shared. These features are already available with FileCloud, but the Compliance Center organizes these features into special compliance configurations that apply sets of FileCloud features with the simple click of a button.

Currently, the Compliance Center includes a specific configuration for ITAR compliance, with other standards under development. FileCloud’s ITAR configuration connects admins with SSL, encryption, and audit settings to provide multi-tiered security protections. Informational rules like “Confirm all users are US residents” provide useful prompts for system admins to confirm regulatory requirements are met.

The FileCloud Compliance Center is particularly beneficial for IT administrators, as it provides an accessible platform for admins to learn about and implement ITAR requirements. It also enables easy reporting to upper management, CIOs/CTOs, and external parties, which saves the organization time and money.

View of the ITAR tab within the FileCloud Compliance Center

How does the FileCloud Compliance Center Work?

The Compliance Center is offered as an additional feature with an Enterprise FileCloud license for users and admins. Once set up, users will be able to view the Compliance dashboard like any other feature in FileCloud, by selecting the Compliance Center tab on the left sidebar.

Once inside the dashboard, users will be able to gain quick and vital information at a glance. Configurations have a status bar that shows how many FileCloud compliance rules are included in the set, how many are enabled, and how many are bypassed.

FileCloud includes the bypass option specifically so users and admins can examine compliance rules and only apply the ones that meet their needs. For organizations that meet regulatory requirements outside of the FileCloud environment, this flexibility ensures status reports are accurate and include only the necessary information.

FileCloud Compliance Center ITAR Tab view with dialog box for bypassing a rule

How can the FileCloud Compliance Center help meet regulatory requirements?

The FileCloud ITAR configuration is a repository for a wealth of information and support. Simply click on the tab at the top of the Compliance Center page to view more information about the rules, the FileCloud features connected with each rule, the status for each rule (compliant, failed, or bypassed), and select actions. These actions include an option to edit the rule (by adding custom metadata for example) or to view additional information through the info icon.

View of ITAR tab in Compliance Center, dialog box with information to update a rule

Configurations in FileCloud are designed to take into consideration the context of the regulatory landscape. In this manner, FileCloud provides vital support to compliance and business managers by connecting compliance requirements directly with powerful FileCloud features, along with explanations for how the feature meets the requirement and where users and admins can find more information on the requirements.

Furthermore, the configurations are designed to act immediately and keep a running track record of all the activity connected with compliance efforts within the FileCloud ecosystem. Admins receive regular email notifications on a 24-hour cycle specifically for any non-compliant rules in place. Admins can adjust their email notification settings in accord with their needs, but the system will continue to scan and update the Compliance Center every 24 hours.

Additionally, all information captured by the Compliance Center is recorded and updated in the dashboard. These activity logs can be archived and exported into non-changeable files for governance and retention purposes.

Pricing

FileCloud offers a strong ROI since the Compliance Center can be bundled with a FileCloud Enterprise license, already a high-value product. Clients can opt for a self-hosted Enterprise package (minimum of 50 users, contact for quote) or for FileCloud Online, hosted by CodeLathe (minimum of 5 users, $15/month/user).

There is no extra cost to add the Compliance Center to your Enterprise license, which provides competitive pricing and a sophisticated, feature-rich platform for secure enterprise file storage and sharing.

 

Microsoft 365 Compliance Center

Microsoft Compliance Center User Home Page, with left sidebar menu describing different cards within the platform.

What is the Microsoft 365 Compliance Center?

Microsoft 365 rolled out their own version of a Compliance Center in 2018, with several updates since. The tool started as a way to organize security and compliance features across Office 365, Enterprise Mobility + Security, and Windows in a centralized platform. This platform supports admins in efforts to detect, classify, protect, and report on data and related activity.

In 2019, the platform was updated to reorganize features and applications that comprise Microsoft Threat Protection, as well as Microsoft Cloud App Security (MCAS). By consolidating the user experiences across Microsoft 365 applications, they created a consistent approach organized around specific concepts: Identity, Endpoints, User Data, Cloud App and Infrastructure.

The most recent iteration of the Microsoft 365 Compliance Center focuses on ease-of-use and compliance features by optimizing eDiscovery, endpoint DLP, audit logs, sensitivity labels, data classification and connectors, records management, insider risk management, and encryption.

How does the Microsoft 365 Compliance Center work?

The Microsoft 365 Compliance Center makes use of a “card” platform to present different aspects of security and compliance to users. The Compliance Manager is one card that acts as a sort of dashboard, calculating a risk score in a percentage and measuring progress toward recommended actions. The Compliance Manager also includes workflow capabilities and built-in control mapping that can help users respond to different compliance objectives, including:

  • Protect information
  • Govern information
  • Control access
  • Manage devices
  • Protect against threats
  • Discover and respond
  • Manage internal risks

Beyond the Compliance Manager, there are also cards for the Solution Catalog and Active Alerts. Users have the option of adding cards to the menu according to their needs and as Microsoft continues to expand the Compliance Center.

Microsoft Solution Catalog, linking users with Microsoft compliance features

The Solutions catalog card provides a resource for users to learn and implement solutions that are available within their specific institution and within their Microsoft subscription. These solutions are organized by section; the card itself is designed to serve as a quick-start guide for new users beginning to implement compliance and risk management solutions. Sections include:

  • Information Protection & Governance
    • Data Loss Prevention
    • Information Governance
    • Information Protection
    • Records Management
  • Privacy
    • Privacy Management
  • Insider Risk Management
    • Communication Compliance
    • Insider Risk Management
  • Discovery & Response
    • Audit
    • Data subject requests
    • eDiscovery

Each section and sub-section provides the user with a brief description of what the solution offers and how it can support compliance objectives. However, the user must know exactly which solutions are required to fulfill specific regulatory requirements.

The Navigation pane in the left sidebar menu provides direct access back to the Compliance Manager card, the Solutions catalog card, the Home screen, Settings, and Resources. This setup can be customized to suit user preferences and add tabs for common areas, depending on what options are available with the organization’s Microsoft subscription. Additional navigation options include Data Classification, Data Connectors, Alerts, Reports, Policies, and Permissions.

Navigation menu for Microsoft's Compliance Center, close-up view of left sidebar menu

How can the Microsoft 365 Compliance Center help meet regulatory requirements?

Microsoft 365 Compliance Center officially states they can support a wide variety of industry and government regulations (as does FileCloud). However, Microsoft does not offer specialized configurations built for each regulation.

Instead, Microsoft relies on the Compliance Manager, which helps users set up data security, classification, and share settings. The Compliance Manager can take inventory of data protection risks, provide managerial support to implement controls, inform users of regulatory updates and refresh certificates, and report directly to auditors.

The Microsoft 365 Compliance Center provides many of the same tools and features offered by FileCloud, but they are not organized into bundled settings or configurations like FileCloud’s solution for ITAR (and other regulations in the near future).

Setting up the Compliance Center in Microsoft 365 reflects that key difference in strategic approach between Microsoft and FileCloud. Compliance, data security, or IT admins are tasked with configuring risk management and communication policies, reviewing their organization’s DLP settings, enabling appropriate settings in Microsoft, and setting up information protection through Microsoft Cloud App Security.

Pricing

Microsoft 365 provides users with a large-scale suite of applications, which may include their Compliance Center. However, these plans may also provide users with more tools or platforms than they necessarily need, and the price point is also much higher. A Microsoft 365 enterprise plan that includes the Compliance Center can cost upwards of $32/month/user[4]. For an annual plan with 100 users, that adds up to $38,400.

Conclusion

FileCloud and Microsoft 365 both present powerful and innovative platforms that address the growing need for compliance support across industries. However, the two solutions diverge in their approach and ease of use.

Microsoft has a certain advantage when considering the Compliance Center as an app alongside the suite of apps that come with a subscription. If an organization is already paying for Microsoft 365, the Compliance Center may be a worthwhile add-on. This may be especially true for organizations that have a compliance officer or team that can work through the various cards and sections to implement Microsoft’s solutions.

FileCloud presents a much more accessible solution with their Compliance Center. By focusing on the regulations directly, FileCloud is able to provide unique configurations of FileCloud features, tools, and settings that cumulatively address compliance requirements.

Furthermore, these sophisticated configurations empower users by connecting compliance rules with specific FileCloud settings that can be easily viewed and distinguished within the configuration tab. The Action column provides users with easy access to customize rules and view compliance documentation for further education.

ITAR is currently the only available configuration available in the FileCloud Compliance Center. Additional configurations will become available as updates are made to the Compliance Center.

Considering the significant challenges of regulation across industries and governments, any tool must provide clear support to users and facilitates fulfilling compliance requirements. FileCloud’s innovative solution is one that stands to grow and change with the landscape while providing meaningful clarity and support.

How to Automate Business Processes

Business Process Automation text accompanied by image of metal cogs in a pile

What is Business Process Automation?

For as long as humans have worked, we have used innovation to make work easier and more efficient. Business Process Automation (BPA) is simply the newest name for this strategy and takes advantage of modern technological advancements.

In brief, process automation can refer to any series of automated actions that fulfill a specific goal. This can range from something as simple and personal as a behavioral strategy (e.g., a new perspective for responding to email) to more complex automation solutions in the form of specific software or hardware tools (e.g., workflow software or assembly line machines).

Automation provides incredible benefits toward operating a business or organization. This is especially true in light of the significant changes the global workforce experienced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Suddenly, huge swathes of the population were working from home. Maintaining productivity became a topic for discussion across all levels, not just business executives.

Automation tools were necessarily involved in these discussions, particularly as organizations pursued solutions to make their IT infrastructure both secure and accessible to remote employees. These automation tools are designed to improve quality, reduce waste, and fulfill ambitious business objectives.

Automated processes support consistency and efficiency throughout an organization’s operations. These include regulatory and financial requirements, tax record maintenance, HR processes, client and customer relations, support ticket resolutions, and marketing and sales campaigns, among others.

Benefits of Automation

Studies have estimated that automating certain activities can reduce costs anywhere from 30% to 90% depending on the business model. Automation saves organizations both physical and logistical resources, which can lead to more agile growth in the industry. When mundane, repetitive, or otherwise tedious tasks are automated, the organization’s workforce can focus on innovation and quality across products and services.

Automating processes across an organization also ensures tasks and operations are consistent, which has an overall impact of reducing resource consumption and human error. As demonstrated by Ford’s assembly line for the Model T automobile over 100 years ago, automation leads to greater efficiency, less waste, and higher cost-savings.

Automation tools empower users by streamlining tasks and promoting focus on the type of unique, creative, or otherwise complex work that cannot be automated. This type of work is sometimes referred to as “deep work.” (The concept of deep work is explored in the AirSend blog post “How to Stay Productive While Working Remotely.”)

Visualizing the Impact of Automation

There are many examples of how automation has been adopted across various industries and departments. These examples are considered routine now, but their impact has been monumental for our modern way of life.

Supporting Customers

For instance, most products and services offered around the world have a customer service component to promote buyer satisfaction and loyalty by resolving issues. The organization, receipt, and response for these support requests or tickets is a cycle that can be automated through software and personnel training.

Software platforms and websites can accept, classify, sort, and direct tickets to service desks, where support employees review information in a concise and efficient manner, distributing solutions with greater speed and precision.

This example combines both behavioral and technological automation to remove a burden of effort from employees. They can then provide higher-quality, person-to-person support when communicating directly with a customer.

Maintaining Information

Automation software also plays a role in trafficking information and approval requests. Businesses and organizations rely on accurate, up-to-date information.

Reliable communication channels and data networks can ensure information is accessible to a workforce, but it can be a challenge ensuring the right information reaches the right people. Automating these channels and networks using workflows erases the burden of remembering, which is one barrier to meaningful productivity.

Executing Decisions

Furthermore, any decision-making processes that contribute to operations, finances, or high-level management often require several approval steps to ensure accuracy and accountability. Automated workflows can also support these operations by actively responding to changes, updating data repositories, and/or sending notifications to relevant parties.

More sophisticated workflow solutions can even route approval requests with notifications, accept the information update (of someone approving or denying), and continue the process without hesitation.

By automating the process of updating relevant parties with information and routing approval requests, decision-making processes become more efficient. Organizations can enact policies, finalize contracts, act on projects, and complete other objectives that contribute to long-term goals.

How to Utilize Automation

After considering both what automation is and how it can impact a business, it is important to consider how automation can specifically be implemented within an organization.

Automation succeeds under specific conditions. 1) Information is organized and accessible and 2) automation tools balance flexibility and structure. For example, automation tools or strategies must be able to assess and gather a wide array of information, determine the necessary action, and complete the action without encountering or producing errors.

To identity tasks suitable for automation, it’s useful to consider some factors:

  • Is the work inherently repetitive?
  • Does it involve many different people or groups of people?
  • Is the work time-sensitive or will it have a high impact on other systems and processes within the organization?
  • Does the work require documentation or audit trails to comply with regulations?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then it may be beneficial to consider automation solutions.

Step 1 – Assess

Assess the situation you wish to automate and determine the “touchpoints.” This means any moment where someone needs to review or otherwise contribute to the process for it to continue. Creating a chart or outline using these touchpoints helps you trace the path of information, from the moment it enters the organization throughout processing until the information is archived or deleted.

Step 2 – Identify

Identify inefficiencies that slow or halt a process. By visualizing the process, you can identify points of overlap that can be streamlined or potential blockages that can be dissolved for better flow. This evaluation also helps you identify potential tools or support systems you may need.

Step 3 – Test

Test different solutions to determine which system best supports your operational needs. Be sure to track both successes and pain points. Not all tools are created equal, and not all businesses will benefit from the same support. It’s important to evaluate what works best for your organization.

Step 4 – Implement

Implement the selected BPA solution and fine-tune processes as needed. Business process automation is a significant investment in an organization’s growth and development. By finding the right solution, you can eliminate bottlenecks and inefficiencies, support deep work initiatives for your workforce, and coordinate between people, applications, and services.

FileCloud Workflows

FileCloud is an innovative file storage and collaboration platform that provides an all-in-one solution that incorporates the latest advancements in cloud technology, cybersecurity, and business productivity. With the 21.2 release, FileCloud users will be able to take advantage of workflows within the environment to automate their business processes.

Workflows in FileCloud are dynamic and intuitive. Users can create an automated exchange of data between other users and groups, both within and outside their organization. All steps in the workflow comply with pre-existing security and sharing policies set by admins. This hierarchy of security, sharing, and retention policies ensures that data is protected in all contexts.

The workflow’s drag-and-drop tool and no-code approach make building workflows easy and approachable. Users can also review the status of running workflows through the workflow dashboard. Managers and admins can stay on top of projects and processes through real-time reports and automated notifications that provide a summary of activities.

High ROI

The addition of workflows to the FileCloud environment complements existing features and tools available for users, business managers, IT admins, and CTOs. This powerful yet flexible cloud-agnostic solution scales with organizations and responds to changing industry requirements around the world, providing high value and an adaptive strategy.

In addition to workflows, FileCloud has invested in collaborative tools, such as Microsoft Teams and OnlyOffice integrations (newly released), file versioning, locking, and editing conflict management, and granular folder and file-sharing permissions. Built-in document view and editing make working in the FileCloud web application easy, and users can also take advantage of Sync and Drive and mobile applications to work offline or on the go. Endpoint backups preserve your files without the additional burden of manually uploading to the cloud.

Security is a high priority in FileCloud, with such protections as 256-bit encryption for data at rest, SSL/TLS encryption for data in transit, two-factor authentication, SAML and SSO options, embedded antivirus and malware protection, smart classification, data leak protection, and end-user device management (including remote-wipe), among many other settings. The 21.2 release also includes a new ITAR Compliance Center to support emerging regulatory requirements across governments and industries.

Customer service is another significant area of focus. FileCloud has some of the highest ratings across industry comparison sites in the market. Responsive sales and supports teams ensure clients have the exact configuration that meets their organization’s needs and industry requirements. A wealth of support materials, from webinars, articles, and software documentation to explanatory videos and training seminars with FileCloud specialists, provide users with the knowledge and confidence to wield the full strength of FileCloud.

Find out how FileCloud can help you automate your business processes today! Sign up for a FREE 14-day trial or schedule a demo.

A Deep Dive into Workflow Automation

 

Over the past few decades, organizations have faced the challenge of digital transformation. How do you transition from and improve a workplace previously dominated by email, phones, whiteboards, spreadsheets, and hand-written notes? Each of these tools is based mainly on human memory, increasing the possibility of human error. They can be challenging to use for collaboration and provide poor visibility by management, particularly in the remote or hybrid workplace that is becoming the norm.

Organizations can significantly reduce the reliance on outdated communications and tracking software by implementing workflow automation. Workflow automation improves the efficiency and productivity of organizations by streamlining business processes. It also ensures that a clear record of work tasks is maintained for easy tracking and auditing.

There is far less dependence on human memory, task tracking spreadsheets, and employee manuals. Instead, the structure of essential and ongoing processes is held in an accessible, central repository that can easily be accessed or distributed by anyone with the proper authority (using Role-based Permissions).

What is Workflow Automation?

In concise terms, workflow automation is the design, creation, deployment, and management of business processes based on preset rules. This allows work tasks to be automatically triggered between people, technology, data, and other resources.

Workflow automation can be used to standardize work. It allows for compliance policies and business rules to be met. It reduces or eliminates human error and deviation and provides transparency and accountability at all levels of the process. The tactical goal is to ensure that the appropriate workers are focusing on the correct tasks at the proper time and have everything they require to complete said tasks.

A History of Workflow Automation

  • The 1990s. The first workflow-based automation software solutions were created. This software replaced the paper-based workflow processes with electronic versions, allowing companies to replace paper tasks-routing activities with electronic-form processes.
  • The late 1990s. Business rules and tools for modeling allow companies to build, analyze, and visualize business processes. They can see graphical views of current organizational processes and compare them with prospective trial processes to make work more efficient.
  • From 2005. The current era of workflow automation begins with the introduction of business process management (BPM).

Workflow Automation’s Primary Benefits

There are several key benefits to automating workflows and processes:

  • Increased efficiency and productivity
  • More accuracy
  • Real-time visibility of work
  • Individual accountability at the highest level
  • Ability to set meaningful KPIs and collect real-world data that can be used in process improvement
  • More data for better decision-making
  • Improvement in data security

Other possible benefits include:

  • Better customer experience and vendor relations with a reduction in wait times and errors and improvement in communication
  • More job satisfaction since employees are better able to prove and reap the rewards of high performance

In summary, workflow automation can provide a more consistent, positive experience for all your customers regarding the delivery of finished work products. It makes it easier to get work done and track what is being completed.

The ultimate goal of workflow automation is to give you an advantage over manually-driven competitors. This can be achieved by offering higher quality work, lower prices, and faster decision-making.

Statistics on Workflow Automation

Statistics can provide a wealth of information about how workflow automation is affecting organizations. Here are some statistics on the importance of process automation for digital transformation from a survey of 400 IT decision-makers across the US and Europe.

  • 97% of IT decision-makers agree that process automation is key to digital transformation.
  • 67% of businesses are currently implementing business process automation solutions that improve visibility across various systems.
  • 47% of IT leaders agree that the most significant ROI in automation is achieved within operations.
  • 36% have already implemented workflow automation technology.
  • 29% of organizations plan to implement low-code or no-code workflow automation software soon.

How Workflow Automation Can Help Departments

Automation can streamline the work of any department. Here are some ways that workflow automation software can help:

IT

  • Reduce time and energy spent on building tech processes for other departments by empowering others to build workflows with no-code, drag-and-drop workflow automation
  • Manage department assets and track usage trends
  • Assign escalations and tickets to team members based on availability
  • Avoid duplicate support requests
  • Easily execute stakeholder updates

Sales

  • Standardize processes to simplify list building
  • Ensure that all leads receive excellent treatment and never miss a lead because of human error
  • Get in-depth reports of ongoing processes

HR

  • Reduce paperwork and manage documents more easily
  • Streamlined approval process makes it easier to find, verify and hire candidates quickly
  • Improve and speed up onboarding and off-boarding experience
  • Increase the visibility of your workflow

Finance

  • More easily track expenses to avoid unwelcome expenditures
  • Build workflows for approvals and notifications of employee travel, budgeting, and reimbursements
  • Save time processing approvals

Marketing

  • Streamline content creation process
  • Improve quality by making sure the right people approve all content
  • Increase employee accountability
  • Nurture quality leads with a consistent and trackable process

How to Get Started with Workflow Automation

A workflow automation plan starts with a clear goal and ends in process evaluation. Below are the five steps that go into a workflow automation plan.

1. Identify a Core Process

The first step is to determine a process that is core to your team or department. Ask questions like “Is this process mature enough to automate?” and “Do I have the support of the team to automate it?”

2. Define the Objective

Automation has many benefits. It can increase ROI, speed to market, and team productivity. Clarify the expectations of your team regarding automation.

3. Build the Workflow

Next, it is time to build the workflow using your workflow automation platform. The general steps are to create a new workflow, assign rules and permissions for each step, publish the workflow, and share it with your team.

4. Team Training

Workflow automation will only succeed if its stakeholders are willing to use it. Share the benefits with process owners, show them what you have built, and encourage feedback.

5. Measure Performance

Automation will not be fully realized unless your business measures the differences it has made to pre-existing processes through reports or data analytics. How has workflow automation impacted your KPIs and ROI? That is the question you want to answer.

How to Choose the Best Workflow Automation Software

There are many choices in the workflow automation market. Some are universally applicable, while others cater to specific needs. No matter your situation, workflow automation software must be flexible, fast, and able to fulfill your specific requirements. Below are the most important features in workflow automation software.

Easy to Use

Seeing as automation is intended to make life easier, the product must be simple to learn and use. Look for a user-friendly interface, no-code solutions, and a drag-and-drop design.

Good Pricing

Some vendors charge thousands of dollars just to install workflow automation software. Consulting and implementation are not included. Say no to those vendors. As with any product purchase, avoid shady pricing models and look for something transparent and predictable. 

Customization

The ability to build custom processes is essential to reap the full benefits of automation. You need software that can manage everything from simple to complex workflows with many steps and decision branches.

Simple Tracking

Without the ability to review a process, you can’t improve it. The best workflow automation software tools provide built-in reporting that allows you to monitor and analyze tasks so you can refine your processes.

 

Workflow Automation with FileCloud

Below are some benefits of FileCloud’s workflow automation.

Excellent ROI

FileCloud’s workflow automation is integrated with all of FileCloud’s other benefits, including enterprise file storage, collaboration, flexible infrastructure (self-hosted, hybrid, or cloud), unmatched security and compliance, and award-winning support. Managers can replace unnecessary subscriptions like Nintex by using an all-in-one solution.

Ease of Use

The drag-and-drop tool enables users to create business workflows of all levels of complexity. Managers can easily create and share customized workflows with their staff to improve productivity, reduce errors, and simplify high-volume tasks. Additionally, it is easy for users to automate their work thanks to our no-code design. 

Real-time Tracking

Administrators and users can track every step of their processes with an intuitive dashboard that shows all running workflows. 

Get more information about FileCloud’s Workflow Automation >>>

Enterprise Content Management Systems and Trends In 2021

CMS trends 2021

 

Content management enables companies to better manage the creation, approval, revision, and consumption of electronic documents. It also provides key features, such as library services,  profiling, searching, check-in, check-out, revision history, version control, and document security. Moreover, cloud computing has brought along a lot of advantages even to the field of content management systems. It provides an easily-accessible resource and repository for documents and related software and is also helpful in being cost-effective. The Enterprise Content Management (ECM) Market was valued at USD 47.29 billion in 2020 and expected to reach USD 105.56 billion by 2026 and grow at a CAGR of 25.7% over the forecast period (2021 – 2026).

ECM can be broken down into five major components: capture, manage, store, preserve and deliver.

Capture involves creating information by converting paper documents into electronic formats, obtaining and collecting electronic files into a cohesive structure, and organizing information.

Manage connects, modifies, and employs information through means such as document management, collaborative software, Records management, etc.

Store backs up frequently changing information in the short term within flexible folder structures to allow users to view or edit information.

Preserve backs up infrequently changing information in the medium and long term and is usually accomplished through records management features. It is commonly used to help organizations comply with government and other regulations.

Deliver provides clients and end-users with requested information.

Here are some of the major ECM Trends in 2021 which we think you should know about

Custom ECM Solutions Will Get More Business

Being able to tailor features and functionality to specific workflows and processes will on-board users faster as customization brings an increased level of control to the experience. The ability to customize the ECM platform’s look, feel, and flow to best meet users’ necessities can mean more business.

Access to Data Will Be More Democratized

Enterprises will try to rethink and reform their data systems in 2021 that allows people from different levels to access data that is relevant to them. Providing access to relevant data and creating a company culture in which the data freely flows essentially means democratizing one’s business organization.

Robust security that Encrypts Data

Everyone is afraid of external and internal security breaches or being non-compliant for audits and meeting regulatory requirements. Whether it’s business intelligence or confidential patient information, your management and safeguarding of content is critical without compromising information accessibility. ECM’s will invest more in making sure they comply with all data compliances and data security issues in the upcoming years.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

Many large Organisations hire data scientists, data miners, and business intelligence architects to design smarter ways to mine data for information. Thanks to new AI tools being incorporated into CMS, smaller businesses can get similar business intelligence support. Now you can improve your decision-making capabilities and optimize all your business processes by applying techniques such as Machine learning (ML)  and Data Visualization.

Robotic Process Automation

RPA is a technology that can automate business processes that are rules-based, structured, and repetitive. This allows your human employees to spend their time and energy on strategic work that adds more value to your bottom line. The back end processing such as fetching data or monthly employee reports can be reduced with the bots as they are capable of mimicking the manual processes efficiently. An Enterprise workflow consists of multiple technologies, which are not designed to operate with each other. Using RPA, this can be handled effortlessly.

Scalability Will Be a Priority

Scalability and flexibility will be of utmost importance for enterprises that are going through a digital transformation or optimizing their existing data management systems. This means that companies will focus on choosing custom-made IT solutions that can easily support their growth without disrupting their business operations.

So, what do you think of our predictions for the enterprise content management systems for 2021? What are your forecasts for the year ahead?

Data Democratization – Why Fostering a Better Data Culture is Important

Data Democratization

Data Democratization as named by Gartner as one of the “Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2020” is to equip people with easy access to data/information without extensive or expensive training. The goal of data democratization is to allow non-specialists to be able to gather and analyze data without requiring outside help and is often referred to as citizen access. Studies have shown that data-centric organizations make better strategic decisions, have higher efficiency, improved customer satisfaction, and generate more profits. In fact, Forrester predicts that such organizations are on track to make US$1.8 trillion annually by 2021.

Factors Enabling Data Democratization

Even when an enterprise wants to embrace democratization there can be difficulties in making data available freely. Data may be stored in silos, making it difficult for employees in different departments to access data. It requires three key factors of technological enablement — Data Access, Machine Learning, and Deployment.

Data Access – It is a view of all your structured, unstructured, and cloud data to allow easy access to all your information. By doing this you can achieve faster insights with minimum cost. Gartner predicts that enterprises will spend 50% of their time and cost just accessing various silos and types of data.

Machine Learning – Humans actively analyze the data to find out what’s expected and what’s not, the system analyses the data and automatically asks additional questions to find unexpected information, which in turn causes humans to dig deeper. For implementing machine learning processes it is important to understand your users, how they will access this information, and importantly how you will keep it secure.

Deployment –  According to Gartner, more than 85% of machine learning projects fail because they are unable to achieve any significant value to the business. The final step of democratization is having the ability to quickly deploy insights as required.

For data democratization to succeed, it needs to be trustworthy. It means keeping data safe and secure. The public internet is insecure, but a digital ecosystem that connects its users using private connections can improve performance, scalability, and resilience while ensuring secure data exchange.

While Data Democratization can fuel innovation, it can pose a serious threat to data security if not deployed properly. The way that data is collected, handled, and analyzed has become a raging debate across consumers, digital enterprises, regulators, and government agencies alike. Just as data governance and security are essential to data privacy, if done right, they can act as a great stepping stone for data democratization. Data democratization and the positive culture it can create is therefore critical to the long-term success of any organization.

 

Essential Steps Towards Data Democratization 

Businesses that wish to benefit from data democratization will have to create it intentionally. This means an organizational investment must be made in terms of budget, software, and training. In the world of data democratization, breaking down information silos is the first step toward user empowerment. This cannot be done without customizable analytics tools capable of desegregating and connecting previously siloed data, making it manageable from a single place.

 

Data democracy

Data Strategy and Infrastructure

Bimodal strategies should be considered in the overall data democratization strategy. The bimodal strategy is the practice of managing two separate but coherent styles: one focused on data predictability and the other on data exploration.

Regulations and Data laws are increasing around the globe and users are more aware than ever of the potential harms from the improper handling of data. Because of this, maintaining proper data privacy is an imminent requirement for a digital business. There can be no data privacy without data governance. Moreover, there can be no data governance without data security. These are all stepping stones and not roadblocks for responsible and safe data democratization.

Data Privacy  and Governance

This golden era of data democratization requires trust. A recent study found that 81% of executives rate data as very critical to their businesses’ outcomes, and 76% of CFOs agree that having a single version of the truth is essential. Organization size does impact who owns the content and how you execute—but all businesses, regardless of size, should invest in a data governance strategy. This way, as smaller organizations scale, they have a strong data strategy that grows with them. Traditionally, data has been managed and owned by personnel working in IT.

While the ownership of data may remain unchanged, successful data democratization requires universal accessibility throughout the organization. The company’s Business Intelligence team can play a crucial role in fostering data accessibility, coordinating with IT to create and deploy policies that take data out of silos and put it into the hands of users. You want everyone to be able to access the data they need, but you also don’t want them to do the analysis that leads to flawed business decisions. To achieve this, consider implementing a data governance plan that weeds out inefficiencies and boosts accountability within and between business teams.

Create Enterprise Policies for Data Access

The organizations that are on the path of data-driven culture would need to decentralize the data systems, with respective roles, and teams holding the ownership on sharing of the data. This will in turn lead to the democratization of data with appropriate policies, procedures, and security applied. The policies should define the business goal, the goal targets, and how to evolve the practices. Based on this, advanced technologies need to be adopted, practiced, and implemented. Proper training should be imparted for the employees on these new technologies as well.

 

Industries Benefiting from Data Democratization

Banking and Finance

Banking and Finance holds a massive amount of data which is built over time. Data is crucial in this sector owing to huge customer interactions and compliance requirements. The data in finance is critical not only from a utilization point of view but also from a security point of view. Making the right data available to the right person is a critical function as per the Data Democratization process. On the flip side, ensuring the required security for sensitive data is also equally important for Data Democratization. While data can help in credit scoring, loan risk management, discovering customer portfolios, it also helps in fraud detection, AML/BSA checks, financial reporting, record keeping, and IoT enabled security checks. The role of data democracy, therefore, becomes even more significant in Finance.

Healthcare

There is a huge amount of data generated and logged in different medical centers. One major flaw when it comes to Electronic Health Records and other health data is that going through all the different portals and gatekeepers can feel overwhelmed. As the growth and spread of data have generated more information than one could analyze, breakthroughs in artificial intelligence (AI) have helped overcome this challenge. Medical experts are developing algorithms to analyze huge quantities of data and extract insights. These algorithms get more efficient with an increase of data, which could improve predictive analysis, enable greater personalization and easy access to enhanced care.

Retail

The democratization of data not only helps in enhancing customer experience at a broader level but also acts as a catalyst in the sub-functions of retail as a sector. By making the right data available to the right team, data democracy can play a critical role in adept decision-making based on facts and insights. It can help in market segmentation, customer profiling for having better-personalized promotions, loyalty management, and improved sales strategy. IoT and insights- driven Data Democratization can also improvise supply chain management and operational back-office efficiency.

Conclusion

Data Democratization is changing the way data is consumed, analyzed, and applied in an organization. It makes data available to more people which they can analyze and get insights with the help of software applications. Organizations that are ready to embark on the journey of Data Democratization needs the support of the people, technology, and processes guided by the right strategies and implementation plans. The challenges with Data Democratization lie in sharing the data without breaking the legal and privacy policies of an individual or organization. The way to go about it is to draw the front lines, agree all the way from individuals through the Governments adhering to the well laid broad policies.

What is Geo-fencing? And How Does it Play a Role in Data Privacy?

GeoFencing

 

Geo-fencing is a new term in the digital marketing space that puts the location of the devices to work for the provision of services. The services could be push messages and notifications that a user gets when the device enters a virtual boundary, known as geo-fence. These virtual fences are set up around certain stores, stadiums, event spaces, malls, and so on.

When a user enters this space with a GPS or an RFID enabled device, it triggers an action that results in the user getting some specific promotions about the particular event or store. Certain apps and software interact with the geo-fence that is set up in the area when the device is connected to GPS, cellular data, RFID, or Wi-Fi. This results in the user getting geo-fence specific messages, which is a useful tool for marketers to promote their products and services timely. Perhaps, the user while entering the space, may not have known about a new product or a promotion, etc.

Applications

The applications of geofencing go much beyond the mere marketing push notifications. Its potential is huge and almost all industries are exploring the endless possibilities that it offers. For example, businesses with huge fleets use it to track the movement of their vehicles; the cattle industry also uses it for the same purpose. Field employees are also tracked in a similar way by certain organizations, for automatically logging time.

Similarly, pets and toddlers could also be tracked for their movement. There are instances of authorities using geofencing to track peoples’ movement when they are in COVID-19 quarantine or for lockdown violations. Geo-fences are set up around important spots like airports, or important buildings as well. This helps monitor the movement, including that of drones in the area. So, geofencing does also play a role in security to track unwanted movement within a geo-fence.

Social networking apps use geo-fencing for location-based filters, stickers, and more; prominently, Snapchat is a very good example of this. Also, in Flickr, you can limit your photo sharing with people in a certain locale only. In-store promotions and audience engagement at events are other good examples of its use. Many of the smart home appliances can also be programmed to send you reminders based on geo-fencing.

Geo-fences are used to track movement in parking spaces to understand the availability of spaces. Certain auto brands even allow you to set up geo-fences around your parked vehicle, so you get a notification if it moves out of the same. Certain people are also using it to send messages to target customers entering their competitor spaces to try and lure them. Some marketers are also offering banner ads based on geo-fencing. Most importantly, a geo-fence sending out alerts about a possible hacker in a network can be used as part of the multi-factor authentication system of an organization’s cybersecurity strategy.

Role in Data Privacy

However, there are concerns raised about data privacy in the use of geo-fencing. When you track users in a specific fence, you are collecting information about them which they may not otherwise be wanting to share. In a world where social profiles are built using digital identities, this could be dangerous. For example, a user may not want people to know why he visited a certain clinic, a religious place, a club, or an event. These could be individual preferences, which were meant to be kept private, but, the geo-fence would have collected information about this.

The legal aspect of the use of geo-fence depends on the privacy laws of the land. In Europe, user consent is a must before this service can be activated. Once specific permission is obtained, then the location-specific data being collected will come under the ambit of the GDPR, which is meant to protect the privacy of the users. Unless all the personally identifiable information is masked by the device ID and the IP addresses that are being collected, it will be treated as a violation. This is because, Personally Identifiable Information (PII) also pertains to IP targeting, email targeting, and phone number detection under the GDPR.

Even the CCPA follows these ethics for its privacy laws applicable in the state of California. And it is expected that companies across the US will be affected by the CCPA, to give consumers new rights and protection almost equal to GDPR and that includes geofencing as well.

There is also the concern that geo-fencing may cause an overdose of unwanted notifications which is a disturbance for an individual. An individual may walk into a coffee shop at the end of a morning walk every day and be bombarded with offers. Or, one may just be passing by a shop with a geo-fence and get messages as a result. This can prove to be quite annoying and may even, ultimately put the customer off. There have been a few cases in the US wherein advertising firms have had to deal with legal cases as a result of their geofencing ads. Especially when the information collected is around health care, children, religious preferences, etc., which come under sensitive personal information, the privacy concerns around geo-fencing takes on a serious turn.

Interestingly, even the banking industry is exploring options with geo-fencing to provide improved customer experiences and fraud detection. People walking into a branch are provided inputs on customized services and offers for them to be able to make better choices. Some banks have enabled their ATMs with geo-fencing, so customers are provided with information about the nearest ATM.

Personal Choices

However, apart from the local privacy laws, individuals can control the information collected by the geofencing apps. If GPS is turned off, then geofencing cannot function, and hence, an individual’s privacy is fully protected. Some of the geofencing marketing happens with the help of the specific apps of stores, dealers, etc.

If an individual chooses not to download these apps, or check the settings in the app to opt-out of the geofencing services, then the location-specific inputs and data collection can be avoided. VPNs can be used to mask IP addresses so that no Personally Identifiable Information can be collected by the geo-fences.

The Importance of Dockers and Containers

 

 

Docker and container

Software deployment, or shipping, used to come with specific instructions about the prerequisites about the environment (both software and hardware) in which to run it. These were called the dependencies of the software, without which it would not be able to function. However, with the advent of the Internet and Java, a lot of that changed and containers and virtual machines (VM) became common. Apps could be shipped in a form that made it possible to run them anywhere, without any pre-conditions. The virtual machines made it possible to run the executable in an isolated environment, with the use of hypervisors. The hypervisors made it possible for the machines to run VMs by provisioning separate resources for it appropriately.

As Linux started becoming mainstream, the term open-source also started making waves. The developer community realized the need to have some community wherein collaborative and shared development can happen. That is what gave birth to OSI (Open Source International) and the concept of open-source software. All software classified as open-source would make its design available freely for all, to use, modify and enhance as deemed necessary. This would help in rapid prototyping through collaboration and shared resources through a community. Of course, there are open-source licenses in place to regulate the way people can use, study, modify and distribute this software. But they are far more open and meant to increase the collaboration and not restrictive in any sense.

What is a Container?

A container can be termed as a software packaging mechanism that will insulate the software from its environment, making it possible to run it in any computing environment. So, the container unit of software would contain all the dependencies required to run the application successfully. Containerization makes development quick as developers can focus only on the application logic, and not worry about the dependencies part. It also makes it possible to deploy applications faster, to any computing environment, as the app would be able to run independently, once deployed.

In a way, containers are like virtual machines; Like virtual machines, containers also provide an isolated environment in which to run the software independently. Both of these run on top of the host operating system. But while VMs abstract the hardware into multiple VMs running on a single machine, containers virtualize the OS, instead of the hardware. The container abstraction is at the app layer and not the hardware layer. Multiple containers can run on the same machine and share the kernel, and yet function independently of each other. Each VM though, is a full copy of the OS, taking up that many resources, making it slow. Containers are lighter and take up lesser space.

Perse, containers are built, run and managed using some technology. They are built to operate seamlessly, and their runtime management is mostly automated as otherwise, the purpose is defeated. Though containers provide a certain amount of security to the apps purely by their design, this does mean that the apps won’t need any additional security. They ensure consistency and uniformity in the way apps run across environments.

Docker Explained

Docker is an open-source container tool that is used to create, deploy, and run applications by using containers. The Docker engine was launched in 2013 and leveraged a lot on Linux. Later, Docker was also extended to Windows and its functionalities are available on Windows Servers as well, called Docker Windows containers. In June 2015, Docker donated the container image specification and runtime code now known as runc, to the Open Container Initiative (OCI) to help establish standardization as the container ecosystem grows and matures.

Docker allows the apps to use the host kernel and they only need to be shipped or deployed with things that are not already running on the host computer. They are, therefore, lightweight, and highly efficient, as they do not require an OS per the application being run. Being open-source, Docker also allows developers to think out of the box, to modify the software to suit their additional needs if any.

Docker is a very useful tool that helps the developers to focus only on their job – development. They need not worry about any other dependencies about the environment where the software will ultimately run on. Also, being open-source software, Docker comes with a lot of pre-written programs that these developers could use as is, or modify to suit their needs. This brings down the development time by a great margin.

This tool has also become a coveted one for the system administrators/DevOps professionals in recent times. Docker provides them with great flexibility in faster deployment and reducing dependencies with its reduced footprint and overhead. Docker has created the industry standard for containers, so they are highly portable. Docker also provides a great amount of security to the apps running in their containers.

The Benefits

The benefits that Docker, as well as containers, bring into modern software development can be summarized as below:

Lightweight: Containers share the OS kernel and are therefore lightweight. They are also small in size and use up lesser resources and can scale up faster.

Portability: Without this, perhaps, containers would not have been what they are. Portability is one of the most important benefits that containers bring in through the removal of dependencies.

Speed: Modern software development is often termed as agile. This means rapid development with aggressive deadlines and multiple deployments within a short period. Dockers and containers make this possible by empowering the developers to concentrate on their work, and system admins and DevOps professionals to deploy with agility. Also, the smaller size, and portability too, add on to the speed of deployment. The Continuous Integration and Deployment (CI/CD) model of DevOps is dependent on container models.

Suited for Most Architecture: Since a lot of apps nowadays run on microservices architecture, container apps are well suited for such environments. Container apps are also well suited for most forms of Cloud deployment, like even hybrid Clouds.

Migration: Containerizing apps are now the most common method for migrating apps to modernize them, and bring in better manageability and portability. Containers provide much-needed flexibility to scale the apps and services. Also, containers allow migration without the need for having to re-architect these apps, which could be a herculean as well as an expensive task.

FileCloud 20.1 Updates & End-Point Backup

FileCloud 20.1 Updates, End-point Backup and More!

star.png

FileCloud 20.1 Update

With Microsoft Office tag support, expanded notification configuration and much more, our 20.1 update is brimming with quality of life features! Read on for a little more detail about what we’ve done to take your file-sharing experience to the next level.

  • More Ways to Control and Configure Notifications – Notifications — can’t live without them, but they sure can get annoying when they’re pinging you about stuff that doesn’t matter. So we made configuring everything about them including the type of notifications per user and per folder possible. Gone are the days of email clutter!
  • Built-In Microsoft Office Tag Support – FileCloud now allows users to import Office tags into FileCloud as well as to seamlessly search by them. With most organizations using Microsoft Office for daily professional and personal needs, FileCloud has always heavily prioritized Office integrations — and this update is no exception. Users can now even set up Content Classification Engine (CCE) and Data Leak Protection (DLP) rules based on Office tags. Check out our support documentation here.
  • Automatic Team Folder Permission Updates – New team folder permission updates are now applied during folder-syncing operations, ensuring that no one is able to access secure data at any point of the syncing process. Read up on how to enable this here.
  • SMS Integration & Gateways – FileCloud now seamlessly integrates with custom SMS gateways to enhance your security and convenience. Receive verifications and authentication from your custom SMS gateways to your personal mobile devices!
  • Integration with Multiple Identity Providers (IdP – )FileCloud now integrates with multiple identity providers to support large enterprises who authenticate and authorize multiple IdPs.
    Learn More →

AirSend

The Importance Of FileCloud Endpoint Backup

Seeing a system error and wondering if your data got lost or compromised, is terrifying. Realizing that your data is gone, irretrievable and you just lost hours and hours of tedious work is devastating. We know the feeling all too well and that is why we made sure you will never go through that rollercoaster of emotions!

You can configure endpoint backup settings for all users or specific users, and view all users’ backed up files from your FileCloud account. You can enable this from the server-side to allow “end” users to “backup” all their important files from different devices using FileCloud Sync (Windows/macOS) and mobile applications. All files automatically go to “My Files/Backups,” creating a new folder for each device.

Learn More →

idea.png

FileCloud Tips: Microsoft Office365 Preview

FileCloud now supports Microsoft Office365 Preview and you can easily enable this from your FileCloud Admin Portal settings to allow users to see MS Office documents the way they are intended to be seen.
ServerSync

Learn More →


AirSend

AirSend’s Email to Channel

Send messages via email directly to Airsend channels without having to switch windows! You can now choose to message your client directly via our desktop apps, reply from your email with your unique channel email address, or respond via email to a channel notification. Whether you’re using Airsend to communicate with your team, clients or acquaintances, your convenience is always our priority.

 

Top 10 File-Sharing Solutions in 2020

Top File Sharing Solutions

In our age of information, most modern enterprises have started to move towards the digitization of data. Never have there been quite so many enterprise file-synchronization and sharing (EFSS) solutions available on the market — and while a wide range of choice is always good, it also makes it much more difficult to choose the perfect solution for your organization. 

After all, investing in a solution that offers either too little or too much functionality can cost you valuable time, money and resources. And no one wants that! As such, we’ve put together a list (in no particular order) of great EFSS solutions for your consideration, so that you can pick the one that offers all the features your enterprise might need, while remaining affordable and within your price range. 


Our Criteria

Naturally, being one ourselves, we have compelling opinions about what makes a fantastic EFSS solution. Here are the factors that we’re taking into account when choosing our list of Top 10 Enterprise File Sync and Sharing solutions on the market:

  • Pricing: Shelling out the big bucks doesn’t always mean you’re getting the best solution. Aside from the base price, making sure a solution offers the features that you need (for example, unlimited client accounts) could save you tens of thousands of dollars in the long run.
  • User Interface: What good are all the features in the world, if you and your team can’t figure out how to use them — or worse, if they’re hidden in so much clutter that using them feels more like a chore than a convenience?
  • Data Governance & Compliance: If your organization regularly handles sensitive data, you might be familiar with data governance policies, such as HIPAA or GDPR. A good solution helps you comply with these policies and avoid hefty legal fines by offering granular file-access, user policy management and data residency.
  • Data Security: Features like remote data-wiping, encryption in-transit and at-rest, Data Loss Prevention (DLP), Two-Factor Authentication (2FA), and alert notifications help keep your data in the right hands, even when devices are stolen or lost. That’s pretty important!
  • Integration: More than likely, you and your team uses Microsoft Word or Google Docs as your main word processor. Perhaps you send your emails via Outlook. A good EFSS solution integrates with popular office programs such as Microsoft Office 365, Google Drive and Outlook, so that your workflow stays uninterrupted.
  • APIs: Besides integrating with commonly used programs, the ideal EFSS solution should offer a wide range of APIs so that it can work and interact with the software that your team uses.
  • Customization: When your team, customers, partners and vendors access your files, do you want them to see the EFSS solution’s logo plastered across everything, or do you want to be able to label your portal with your own logo, assets and branding?
  • Mobile & Remote Access: You might not have constant access to your office computer, or even your laptop, but most of us always keep our phones around.
  • Administrative Tools: A great EFSS solution doesn’t just make it easier to collaborate and share files, but also to manage your team. An admin panel for you and your sysadmins to manage user policies, view real-time performance reports and a centralized device dashboard, plus other security tools, is a must.
  • Collaborative Tools: As more and more enterprises move to remote work, we believe that it’s not enough for modern EFSS solutions to simply store files, but also to provide tools for easier, more efficient team collaboration. These include common team folders for remote teams to share files with each other, the ability to comment on files and send messages to each other while working.
  • Identity Management: This means integration with standard enterprise identity solutions, such as Active Directory (AD) and Single Sign-On.
  • Virtual Drive: The ability to mount remote files as local files, so that data is only downloaded when they are being accessed and edited. This means a lot less memory usage on your part, and tons of space saved on your hard drive.
  • Content Management: A good file-sharing solution offers file-versioning, metadata classification, user policy management and light workflows for the easier management and organization of your team’s hard work.

Now that we’re on the same page about what the perfect EFSS solution looks like, without further ado, let’s move on to what you’re here for: the list!


1. FileCloud

 

  Pricing: FileCloud Online: $10/user/month (Standard), $15/user/month (Enterprise) || FileCloud Server: $4.20/user/month | FileCloud Server: Contact for Quote

✓  Storage: FileCloud Online: 1TB out-of-the-box, +100GB/user  (Standard), +200GB/user (Enterprise)  || FileCloud Server: Unlimited

✓  Security: FileCloud is compliant with all the most stringent data governance policies, such as HIPAA and GDPR. Encryption at rest and in transit, 256-bit AES encryption, granular file-sharing, password-protected, public and private shares.

✓  Features: From deployment models to unlimited client accounts, branding capabilities and more, FileCloud is filled with incredible enterprise-level features.

Naturally, we’re proud of our own product and firmly believe FileCloud to be one of the most powerful and affordable EFSS solutions on the market. FileCloud offers on-premise, public and a unique hybrid cloud deployment model. This deployment flexibility separates FileCloud from its competitors, and ensures that your team can enjoy the benefits of both on-premise and cloud storage systems — read more on our hybrid infrastructure here.

Our pricing is also one of the most affordable on the market, while offering larger storage plans, better enterprise-level features, and unlimited FREE external client accounts — all great for your wallet and your ROI. Feature-wise, we consider seamless, remote access to your data as the bare minimum that a good file-solution should offer. Collaborative and content management tools, a comprehensive admin panel, plus infinite customization options are all features that ensure not just your team, but also your clients and sysadmins get in on the enhanced EFSS experience.

Last but certainly not least, FileCloud is compliant with most data security governance policies, meaning that you’ll never see your organization’s good name tainted in headlines labelled with “Security Breach” or “Data Leaks”. Plus. it’ll save you tons on the fines and fees that’ll rack up if you go with a less-secure option.

ProsCons
Affordable, no paywalls, money/time-saving featuresUnfortunately, FileCloud isn't an open-source software.
Compliant with all data security governance policies With all these features, FileCloud's UI can get a bit complex for beginners and laymen
Integration with most common office softwares, APIs

2. Google Drive: GSuite

How to Find Anything in Google Apps - The Ultimate Guide to G ...

  Pricing: Free Plan: Free | Basic Plan: $6/user/month | Business Plan: $12/user/month | Enterprise Plan: $25/user/month

✓  Storage: Free Plan: 15GB | Basic Plan: 30GB | Business & Enterprise Plan: Unlimited, or 1TB / user if less than 5 users

✓  Security: Encryption in transit; no option to encrypt individual documents. Multi-factor authentication.

✓  Features: Google Drive comes with powerful, recognized collaborative tools, such as Google Docs, Sheets and Slides.

Having quickly risen in popularity over the past couple of years, Google Drive is now a powerful file-sharing solution on the market. A file storage and synchronization program created by Google, it’s best known for its collaborative capabilities via Google Docs, Sheets and Slides, which offer real-time collaborative editing of documents, spreadsheets and slides respectively. 

The solution’s enterprise plan, GSuite, comes with a similarly clean and intuitive UI, as well as integration with popular enterprise softwares such as Autodesk, Salesforce, and more. Apart from this, Google Drive for Business offers unlimited cloud storage, access from any device, offline file access, includes apps like Gmail, Google Keep, Google Sites, as well as enterprise-grade access controls, e-discovery for emails, chats and files.

However, reportedly, users have encountered frequent connectivity and syncing issues while using Google Drive. Plus, while Google Drive has fairly beefy data security with encryption in-transit and at-rest, human error on part of the developers has led to security issues, such as when Google Photos started sending private videos to strangers

ProsCons
Strong team collaborative toolsHas had major security issues through developer error
Clean mobile and desktop softwareOn the pricey end: $30,000 for 100 users/ year
Allows offline mode and offline file-editingKnown occasional syncing issues

3. Dropbox

Dropbox -

  Pricing: Basic Plan: Free | Plus Plan: $11.99/user/month  | Professional Plan: $19.99/user/month

✓  Storage: Basic Plan: 2GB | Plus Plan: 2TB | Professional Plan: 3TB

✓  Security: AES 256-bit encryption for data at rest and AES 128-bit encryption for data in transit; however, known past security issues

✓  Features: Unique “Paper” and “Showcase” features: basic “Notes” and “Portfolio” app respectively

Of course, we’d be remiss to not mention Dropbox in a file-sharing solution comparison post. With its clean, intuitive UI and easy-to-use features, Dropbox has become a well-known, household name in terms of file storage. Dropbox also offers password-protected links, integration for Office 365 and Google Drive, and strong administrative tools. However, while it certainly has its pros, we feel strongly that there are better enterprise-level file-sharing solutions — and here’s why. 

Due to the system’s popularity, it’s always been a popular target for hackers. Even now, it doesn’t offer local encryption. Their customer service certainly leaves more to be desired, as seen from their lack of 24/7 customer support.

And above all that, despite having fewer features than many enterprise-level solutions out there, Dropbox is far from the most affordable on the market, especially with their 5-user minimum. Plus, with their measly 2GB- free storage and paywalls for unlimited storage, it certainly feels like the solution is out to milk their users dry.

ProsCons
Clean mobile and desktop applicationsDisappointing 2GB starting storage space
Automatic synchronization of files and foldersFrequent past security issues
"History" feature allows access to past versionsPricier end of things, 5 user minimum

4. Box

Cloud Storage Services for Business Use - armix.one

  Pricing: Box Starter: $5/user/month | Box Business: $20/user/month | Box Business Plus: $33/user/month | Box Enterprise: $47/user/month

✓  Storage: Box Starter: 100GB | Box Business: Unlimited | Box Business Plus: Unlimited | Box Enterprise: Unlimited

✓  Security: A regulatory-compliant Zero-Knowledge Provider. Tools to manage user perms and customer-managed encryption keys.

✓  Features: Secure collaborative and project-management tools, as well as rule sets for work-flow automation

While perhaps less of a household name than Dropbox, Box, founded in 2005 and based in California, is also an incredibly strong contender on the EFSS market. With tools that integrate with other services, like Google Docs, Box also goes above and beyond in offering custom branding capabilities and letting users create a professional appearance for their organization.

Plus, Box’s security is nothing to scoff about, being a uniquely zero-knowledge provider and offering tons of options for encryption and user management.

Unfortunately, with their heavy local encryption, Box transfers tend to get slow — something that could impede or even cripple the seamless remote workflows that have become the norm today. Box also does not offer any options for on-premise or self-hosting, nor local storage, and does not perform end-point backups. Plus, while it certainly provides tons of enterprise-level features, it’s also significantly pricier than almost any solution on the market.

ProsCons
Platform-independent, apps for most major devicesMore expensive than most competition
Secure, regulatory-compliant solutionLocal encryption can slow file transfers
Tons of features, intuitive to useNo on-premise or local storage

5. Egnyte

Egnyte Business Review | PCMag

  Pricing: Office Plan: $8/user/month | Business Plan: $20/user/month | Enterprise Plan: Contact for a quote

✓  Storage: Office Plan: 5TB | Business Plan: 10TB | Enterprise Plan: Scales with your needs

✓  Security: Standard encryption, includes user and group access permissions

✓  Features: What stands out most with Egnyte is their great auditing system which timestamps user activities, plus a robust access permission system.

Egnyte has recently become one of the leading choices for enterprises, claiming to have been designed with businesses in mind. Egnyte provides the branding capabilities to customize logos, URLs and message headers, providing a more professional look. In addition to useful sharing and collaborative features, Egnyte also provides great security features, such as intuitive access permissions and encryption. It also integrates with most operating systems and devices. 

Unfortunately, there have reportedly been frequent sync/network problems with the solution. While robust in features, Egnyte provides little documentation for these features — combined with poor customer service, creating a steep learning curve for their product. There are also paywalls for features such as audit reports and storage sync, for an already-relatively-high price tag.

ProsCons
Great security measuresMore expensive than most competition
Robust user and group permissionsNo Linux support
Custom branding capabilitiesReported network and sync issues

6. OneDrive

Microsoft updating OneDrive with better web UI and sharing options ...

  Pricing: Business Plan 1: $5/user/month | Business Plan 1: $10/user/month | Microsoft 365 Business Basic: $5/user/month | Microsoft 365 Business Standard: $12.50/user/month

✓  Storage: All Plans: 1TB – extra storage space can be purchased separately for up to 1TB/$9.99/month

✓  Security: Standard encryption, file-locking, paywalls for SSO/SAML Authentication

✓  Features: Advanced sharing, mobility and security. Heavy integration with Office software.

Microsoft OneDrive is a file hosting service and synchronization service operated by Microsoft as part of its web version of Office. Naturally, this Microsoft-based solution heavily integrates with Office 365 programs that most teams use, such as Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint, as well as Outlook, which is a huge plus. Certain plans even grant access to said software. It also provides encryption at rest and in transit. Overall, it has robust features that make it a strong solution, as expected from Microsoft.

Unfortunately, data privacy issues have surfaced time and time again with large corporations, and OneDrive is no exception. When using this solution, Microsoft can scan your files for “objectionable content”, stating that file security cannot be guaranteed for said content.

ProsCons
Integration with Office 365 programsFile-size limit of 10GB
Provides file-versioning featuresNo on-premise / self-hosting options
Great security measuresSecurity measures locked behind paywalls

7. OwnCloud

ownCloud Phoenix - rebirth of the ownCloud user interface – ownCloud

  Pricing: Standard Subscription: $3,750/50 users/year | Enterprise Subscription: $9,000/50 users/year | Custom Subscription: Custom pricing for 10,000 users and above

✓  Storage: Unlimited Self-Storage Space

✓  Security: Standard Encryption, Multi-Factor Authentication, NTFS Support

✓  Features: Custom branding, open-source customizability, local storage options

ownCloud is a reliable file sharing infrastructure with a client-server architecture, allowing users to setup a complete private file-sharing service with data encryption server side while avoiding popular public ones like Google drive or Dropbox. An open source solution, it offers rich features and the ability to use on-premise / self-hosting.

However, most potential users balk at the massive price tag of $9,000/50 users/year — even if you divide that into per user per month, it’s still pretty hefty — especially compared to available file solutions that have the same features while staying at 1/4 of that price! Due to being open source, there’s also a lack of a strong support system, and poor documentation. It also doesn’t offer endpoint backup, nor granular subfolders.

ProsCons
Feature-rich, open sourceRelatively high cost
Support for local storage and on-premiseNo endpoint backup or granular subfolders
Work across all popular operating systemPoor support and documentation

8. Citrix ShareFile

Localized ShareFile WebUI available | Citrix Blogs

  Pricing: Standard Plan: $55/5 users/month | Advanced Plan: $85/5 users/month | Premium Plan: $135/5 users/month | Virtual Data Room Plan: $375/5 users/month

✓  Storage: Unlimited Storage Space

✓  Security: Standard encryption and SSL/TLS. Recovery sites in both the US and EU.

✓  Features: Collaborative and productivity-enhancing tools, custom electronic signature tool. File-versioning features.

Sharefile is Citrix’s enterprise-class cloud storage solution, and they’re well-known in the commercial software and service industry. Notable features of Sharefile include an auditing system that generates activity reports, integration with Single Sign-On, download alerts, and two-factor authentication. This cuts down on the amount of time it would take to print out a document, sign it, and scan it to the cloud.

Unfortunately, despite their generous offer of unlimited storage, they do have a file size limit. The solution itself doesn’t support Linux. Plus, with a standard plan starting at $55, paywalls for features and their enforced 5-user pricing plan, it’s safe to say that Sharefile isn’t the most affordable solution for smaller organizations. Reportedly, Sharefile’s licensing plans are also misleading.

ProsCons
Great security measuresFile-size limit of 10GB
Provides file-versioning featuresNo Linux support
Simple to use, clean user interfacePricey, misleading licensing plans

9. NextCloud

Nextcloud 16 introduces machine learning based security and ...

  Pricing: Basic Plan: $2,136/50 users/year | Standard Plan: $3,823/50 users/year | Premium Plan: $5,510/50 users/year

✓  Storage: Unlimited Self-Storage

✓  Security: Standard Encryption, SSO, SAML Authentication, 2FA, File-Locking

✓  Features: On-Premise and Cloud file-hosting, large file support, local storage support, OS compatibility

While NextCloud is a free, open-source software, NextCloud Enterprise comes as a powerful, pre-configured EFSS solution that takes some of the guesswork out of configuring their free, alternative solution. It certainly totes the basics expected of any EFSS solution, such as audit logs, a desktop sync client and user management, and has great security with end-to-end encryption.

Unfortunately, similar to ownCloud, which NextCloud was a spinoff of, the open-source software can come with a lack of support and documentation. As such, many deployments, updates and bug fixes fall to you and your team — wasting precious time that could have been used on other productive activities.

ProsCons
Strong collaborative featuresLack of support and documentation
Good security measures, with encryptionSelf-dependent for updates
Compatible with common operating systemsOn the pricier end of things

10. Syncplicity

Syncplicity Cloud Storage Service Review | Cloud Storage Advice

  Pricing: Personal: $5/user/month | Business: $5/user/month | Enterprise: Contact for quote | Government: Contact for quote

✓  Storage: Personal: 100 GB | Business+: 300GB

✓  Security: Standard encryption in-transit and at-rest, SSO, 2FA

✓  Features: Hybrid solution, remote access and mobility

For a solution that’s much less popular and well-known, Syncplicity offers a surprising punch with their rich features, hybrid hosting options, great security, file restorations and backup. In addition, good things have been said about their customer support, with online chat and a 24/7 phoneline. 

At a price of $60 for even the lowest personal plan and a whopping minimum of 25 users, Syncplicity is far from the most affordable solution on the market. Syncplicity also doesn’t support customer-managed keys. Plus, Syncplicity uses a traditional interface — great for the early 2010’s, but perhaps not the most modern for today’s standards.

ProsCons
Hybrid file-hosting solutionHigh user minimum, expensive
Great customer service, 24/7 supportNo user-managed encryption keys
File restorations and automatic backupLow storage - 300GB