Archive for the ‘Productivity’ Category

FileCloud Aurora – All About Single-Click Actions

Introduction

In November 2020, FileCloud released update 20.2 – a complete rehaul of our Sync, Mobile and browser UI and functionalities. We at FileCloud have been working on this for a very, very long time, and so we’re incredibly proud to present to you: FileCloud Aurora.

Today, we’re going to be covering one of the most important functionality additions to our new UI: Single-Click Actions.

For a comprehensive overview of all of FileCloud Aurora’s new features, please visit our previous blog post Introducing FileCloud Aurora! Brand New UI and DRM Capabilities!.

What Are Single-Click Actions?

We’re all about helping you and your team save time. FileCloud Aurora brings workflow efficiency to the next level with tons of quality of life updates that help you work fast. One of these is the introduction of single-click, or quick, actions.

What does this mean? Well, you might have noticed that when you hover over any file or folder in your library, a toolbar appears on the item. It might look something like this:

These icons represent all of the most commonly-used actions that you could ever need to take with your files. Hover over each icon to see what they do, or read on for a more in-depth explanation for each one. 

List of  Single-Click Actions

Preview

The first icon, which looks like an eye, is the Preview action. It lets you preview your files, folders and documents. As FileCloud Aurora integrates fully with Microsoft Office and many other file extensions, you’ll be able to open and preview all of your files without actually needing to download them.

Download

The second icon, which looks like a downwards-pointing arrow is the Download action. It lets you download whichever file, folder or document you’re hovering over in one simple, quick click.

Edit

The third icon, which looks like a pencil, is the Edit action. Depending on your file type, you may be able to edit it directly in the browser or open the file in Office Online. Some files, of course, cannot be edited, such as video or audio files.

You may have noticed that at the end of each hover description, there are different keys in square brackets – for instance, [Enter] for the Preview icon. These are keyboard shortcuts, and are covered in our All About Keyboard Shortcuts blog post!

Share

The fourth icon, which looks like three dots connected to each other, is the Share action. Clicking it will open the following window:

You’ll be able to copy the share link of your file, change sharing options, and remove the share from there on.

Direct Link

Next up is Direct Link, which looks like a hyperlink icon. This opens up the following window:

-Where you can copy a direct link to your file, maximizing efficiency when sharing files with your team.

Copy

This is the Copy quick-action, which looks like two squares overlapped over each other. Clicking this will open a window where you can select where to make a copy of the file.

Move

This is the Move quick-action, which looks like an arrow. Clicking this will open a window where you can select where to move the file to.

Delete

Next up is the Delete quick action, which looks like a trash can. This is pretty self-explanatory — clicking this will delete the file in question.

Lock

Last but certainly not least is the Lock option, which looks like a, well, lock icon. This opens up the following window:

That lets you lock a file to indicate that you’re working on it. That way, your team won’t be able to modify the file and override your changes, or vice versa.

Conclusion

Gone are the days of tedious right-clicking and dragging stuff around. Need to copy or download something? Just hit the corresponding button! Need to move something to another folder? Before you start dragging it all over your screen, just hit the single-click action for it and a window will open for you to choose your destination folder. 

It might seem like a subtle change, but when your team is shaving seconds off every file action, it all adds up to save you and your team tons of time. Thanks for tuning in, and we hope that you’re enjoying our FileCloud 20.2 Update: FileCloud Aurora! 

Your Essential Checklist for Remote Work Communication

Due to global events, remote work has become more common than going to the office, and some businesses are adapting better than others. Whether your organization is enjoying the new norm or struggling to find its footing, our guide on remote work communication is for you.

One of the most important and challenging parts of remote work is communication. Our guide covers everything you need to set up and implement a successful remote work communication infrastructure. You can read the free guide here, but if you’re crunched on time, here is a checklist from the guide to help you quickly and easily improve or create your remote work communication framework.

Once you have answered the questions in our checklist, you will be better equipped to handle the challenges of communicating with a remote team.

We recommend sitting down with your laptop or a sheet of paper and writing down your answers to the below questions. Your answers to these questions will create a complete remote work communication framework for you and your team so you can either start off on the right foot or optimize your pre-existing set-up.

Asynchronous Communication

  • What modes of async communication are you planning on using? (Email, Wiki, Discussion Forum, Task Management)
  • What tool or app are you using for each mode?
  • Is it clear to your team members which app to use for what modes and topics? Do you have a handbook, or do you need to create one to make this clear?

Synchronous Communication

  • How much face-to-face time do you have scheduled for your team?
  • Will you do in-person company retreats? If so, how many times per year?
  • What tool or apps are you using for chat, audio and video calling, note taking, and task tracking?
  • What is your approximate public vs. private message ratio in your chat app? Is it working well, or do you need to adjust?
  • What is your current video to voice call ratio? Is it working well, or do you need to adjust?
  • Have you provided clear guidelines to team members about chat and video/voice calling?

Other Considerations

  • What are your core working hours (hours each workday when everyone is required to be online and available)?
  • Are all of your team members meeting or exceeding expectations when it comes to communication and collaboration? Or do you need to adjust with training or hiring?
  • Do you have a clear set of written communication policies available to your team?

Now that you’ve answered the checklist questions, you should have a clearer idea of how to create or improve your set up for remote work communication.

If you want to learn more, you can read the free guide here.

Five Amazing Client Collaboration Apps for Accountants

Onboarding/ working with new accounting clients involves a fair amount of paperwork, organization, and reliable communication. Additionally, meeting with clients during a pandemic can be challenging. However, there are new arising platforms that ensure reliable communication between accountants and clients. Further, these new arising platforms help automate workflow between firms and clients. So, what and who are the latest collaboration apps that are assisting accountants? In this blog post, we list the five top collaboration apps for accountants. 

Symphony

Symphony is a team collaboration tool made for the finance industry. Symphony offers:

  • Data encryption
  • Compliance and certifications
  • Bots and apps
  • Automated trade flows
  • Messaging, file sharing, and conferencing 

Pros

The great thing about Symphony is that it works great with people inside and outside your company. The platform offers “rooms,” which allows accountants to stay connected with other team members and clients in an online workspace. Also, Symphony offers everything you need to hold large or small meetings securely over the internet. 

Finally, Symphony offers compliance and certifications. Through their compliance feature, Symphony enables data loss prevention, user entitlements, room monitoring, and automatic content archiving. In terms of their certification feature, independent security and privacy experts regularly conduct audits to certify their safeguards.

Cons

Based on several review sites, users have commonly noted the needed improvement of connecting to other tools. Additionally, some users complain that the product is difficult to navigate through. For those looking for a collaboration app that is easier to use, Symphony may not be the wisest choice; however, other tools deliver simplicity without harming the communication and collaboration between accountants and clients- like AirSend. 

AirSend

AirSend is an excellent tool for collaboration between accountants and clients. With AirSend, accountants can: 

  • Keep everyone in the loop
  • Share and organize everything
  • Track your tasks
  • Find messages and files fast
  • Create tax and audit notebooks
  • Works with email
  • Office 365 Integration
  • Audio and video calling

Pros

The highlight of AirSend is that it works with email. Working with email means that clients do not need to create an AirSend account. Instead, they can send emails to their accountant’s AirSend email address, and the message will magically appear in the AirSend channel. 

The second-best highlight is that AirSend seamlessly integrates with Office 365. Having this integration makes editing and uploading documents easier. Further, anything you edit will be saved to the original file uploaded to AirSend- no more deleting or uploading the same file.

Cons

Currently, AirSend does not carry all the features accountants need. For instance, auditing capabilities and budget processing through bots. However, those who are not accustomed to bots will be sufficient auditing through AirSend. 

Wire

Wire is a modern-day collaboration tool that meets advanced security and user experience, a massive plus for accountants. Similar to AirSend and Symphony, Wire focuses on business-to-client and team-to-team communication. Wire features: 

  • Guest room access
  • Personal and group chats
  • Conference calls
  • Availability status
  • Mentions
  • Integrations

Pros

Through integrated apps, Wire allows accountants to securely add calendars, financial information, development progress, corporate news, or CRM information to conversations. As a finance manager, you want to ensure a positive return on investment and optimal expenditure on tools to make the business more efficient.

Through recent reviews, finance teams and accountants who use Wire indicate that the tool is great for checking in on

  • The daily business 
  • Budget processing 
  • Audits 
  • Financial statements

Cons

One of the few downsides to Wire is that they do not carry built-in task management. The platform is also limited in what financial teams can use with customers. Finally, according to several use cases, calls within Wire frequently drop. 

Slack

Slack is a radically simplified workflow collaboration app for accountants. As Slack preaches, “Unlike email, which is based on individual inboxes, Slack consolidates information and project history into channels,” (Slack financial service landing page). By creating a simplified environment, financial teams and accountants can work seamlessly through third-party integrations.  Slack offers:

  • Over 500+ Integrations
  • Channel search history
  • Slack Connect (Check out our blog to learn more about Slack Connect)
  • Voice and video calls
  • File sharing
  • Bots
  • Workflow builder

Pros

The biggest pro is Slack’s integration. Accountants can integrate with practically thousands of apps (if they really wanted to). Integration makes working with clients and other team members somewhat easier. Additionally, Slack bots help with your workflow needs- and who doesn’t want a robot helping them out? 

The other big positive to Slack is its enterprise-grade security and compliance. Accountants and clients won’t have to worry about their financial information being compromised. 

Cons

Slack is designed originally as a communication tool. The negative, which is also a positive, is its use of integrations. Not many clients or accountants like the use of integrations- usually due to the lack of security in some integrated apps and the amount of app switching that happens within Slack. As noted from a study, switching between apps can cost up to 40% of someone’s time wasted. However, if you do not have a problem with integrations and instead favor them, Slack is an excellent choice to conduct your business. 

GSuite

I am sure, as you all know, GSuite is a fabulous collaboration tool. It is precisely like Office 365, but for Google users. In GSuite, accountants and clients can connect via 

  • Email
  • Hangouts
  • Direct messaging through email
  • Direct meetings through email
  • Docs
  • Slides
  • Sheets
  • Drive
  • Keep Notes
  • Calendar

Pros

GSuite is an excellent collaboration tool for those who like to stay connected and quickly jump into any app related to Google. The platform is extremely user friendly, convenient, and efficient. The beauty behind GSuite is that communication works through email- though there are alternatives that Google offers for those who do not want to communicate with email, such as Hangouts. 

The more prominent highlight is that GSuite is perfect for multitasking. Accountants and clients and simultaneously edit documents together. Managing multiple email accounts is also great, especially when emails are attached to Google’s shared features- drive, docs, and sheets.

Cons

GSuite is expensive. Sometimes not everyone can keep up with the inflated prices that Google offers, and therefore have to keep with a basic plan, which lacks in some areas. Additionally, some users fear that Google will shut down integrations that are often used.

Summary

Comprised in this blog post are our favorite collaboration apps for accountants. Each app has its pros and cons. However, when choosing the right app, it is essential to choose the platform that best fits your client’s accounting needs.

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 NotificationsNotifications — can’t live without ‘em, 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 SupportFileCloud 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 UpdatesNew 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 & GatewaysFileCloud 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 5 box Alternatives for Business File Sharing in 2020

 

Looking for alternatives to Box? Many people want Cloud Content Collaboration software to help with the interface, file sharing, file support, and file Audit. What’s important is finding out what software is right for you. We have a list of Cloud Content Collaboration tools that are best suited for your needs if you are looking for an alternative to Box.

Before jumping on to the list of the best alternatives, let us breakdown and see what box offers and compare the features with others

Box

Box is a cloud content management solution that enables enterprises to transform how they operate digitally; enabling a secure, digital workplace that drives employee productivity and team collaboration from anywhere, while streamlining collaborative business processes and driving intelligence across the extended enterprise.

The system places a strong emphasis on security, especially with collaboration and workflow. For instance, a user or administrator can protect their shared links via passwords set with an expiration date. Or, they can view the times and frequencies of when specific content is viewed or edited. Box also allows users to share content outside of the company (i.e. clients or other partners), no matter what device they use. It does offer 10GB of storage for free

  • Mobile access
  • Integration with other applications  such as: Microsoft Office, Google, Salesforce, DocuSign etc
  • Ability to add/edit multiple users
  • Editing documents
  • Workflow automation
  • Box Notes functionality for project management tasks, such as status updates and meeting notes
  • Custom branding
  • Global compliance standards, such as ITAR, HIPAA, PCI DSS 3.1, FINRA/SEC 17a-4, FISMA, ISO27001:2013, and ISO 27018

 

Box Sync 4.0.8004 Download for Windows / Screenshots / FileHorse.com

Pros

  • Sync allows users to sync folders/files from Box Cloud to your finder so it feels like your just working from finder but it’s being backed up the cloud! BoxSync when used in conjunction with a box account does a great job of doing automatic backups on the cloud, that also help in access from different computers/collaborators simple.
  • Box is a great way to securely store and share files in the cloud. The granular permission settings within each folder allow the administrator to help regulate privileges from editing to downloading, and reading which is a great tool when looking to share with multiple parties at different levels.
  • Box is easy to set up and uses with decent functionality for the initial version
  • MetaSearch on Enterprise allows granular searching. Every time someone has ever used a single word is indexed.
  • Security focuses on compliance, encryption, enterprise-grade management.

 

Cons

  •  There’s no indication when a file is open by another user. This has led to multiple users editing a document, and those documents don’t merge well or at all, leaving a red exclamation point indicating there’s an issue or an alternate file.
  • When compared to its competitors (Google Drive/OneDrive), Box does look a bit unappealing owing to its price tag.
  • For new users, it can be a bit difficult getting started with Box
  • Box sync doesn’t work on older Windows OS versions
  •  The user interface is not the best for Box. It’s not as user friendly as some of the other software

Now that we have covered some pros and cons on Box let’s go through some of the other  FileSharing software available

 

Dropbox

Dropbox is simple. It’s just a folder—a magical folder that syncs everything you put in it up to the cloud. Before Dropbox, file sharing and sync were geeky and confusing, so it’s no wonder that it quickly became the default cloud-storage app after it launched in 2007. While it’s far from the only way to sync your files, the hidden features put Dropbox a step ahead of the rest.  Dropbox has provided the opportunity for employees in the organization to manage and share files locally and remotely without the need for carrying thumb drives from workstation to workstation. Not only has this feature enabled flexibility and efficiency in the workspace but also improving the standard of work, saving time and energy as compared to other file management solution. While the sharing of information is critical Dropbox for Business allows the administrators to issue special permissions for users to access links and files. Administrators can further perform other security tasks such as the setting of expiration dates for every information that has been shared with the Cloud. These types of security measures are available to avoid a breach of information on Dropbox for Business.

 

The new dropbox.com—files and team activity, all in one place ...

Pros

  • File Versioning – Once a file has changed still it keeps an older version of the file and can be accessed as well which is great and is kind of a backup on its own.
  • Dropbox has fantastic conflict resolution features – automatically creating a “conflicted copy” of a file whenever a potential conflict is detected (i.e. a file is being edited by two people at the same time).
  • Dropbox also has plugins for Microsoft Office that allow for multiple people to edit a file simultaneously without creating conflicts.
  • Dropbox provides a “smart sync” feature, allowing for files to be seen on the computer locally, but not stored locally until opened up. This allows a user to access all of his/her Dropbox files without using up disk space

Cons

  • Dropbox for Business is very limited compared to alternatives. Both Google’s G Suite and Microsoft Office 365 cost comparable or less, and includes not just file syncing capabilities but an entire office suite.
  •   You cannot edit files without downloading them. It would be great to see this feature added in the future.
  • The Dropbox file compression will degrade the media quality to a noticeable extent when clicking a direct play link.
  • Mobile version faces challenges when dealing with big files hence not as flexible as the desktop version Syncing folders from desktop

 Google Drive

Google Drive is simply a cloud-based storage option that gives you the ability to keep your photos, emails, and other files on their server.

But having extra storage is just the beginning.

Google Drive also comes with a suite of office tools rivaling the heavyweights from Microsoft Office, including:

  • Docs, Google’s word processor comparable to Microsoft Word
  • Sheets, Google’s version of Excel
  • Slides, the Google answer to PowerPoint

You can even share these documents and make edits in real-time so collaborating with your team has never been easier.

How to Use Google Drive | Tips, Tricks, and Advice | Digital Trends

Pros

  • With mobile application and website access, You can access your files anywhere you have internet.
  • It is free, which makes it a great asset to any small business that does not have a lot of funds to spend on IT.
  • Readily compatible with many apps. All your data stored in one place. With your google account, all the stored data can be accessed at any time.
  • Ease of installation, ease of setup and you don’t need the knowledge to use it as an end-user.

Cons

  • The processes of uploading (automatically), deleting, scrolling, and downloading are tedious as they have to be done by checking each file.
  •  Sometimes the interface could become a bit cluttered with the files that were uploaded and it was difficult to tell which ones were most recently shared/ uploaded without sifting through and organizing them myself, however, this is probably more of an aesthetic issue.
  • There isn’t an offline option to work on a document saved to Google Drive.
  • No mounting to your computer to use as a hard drive

 

One Drive

Microsoft OneDrive supports a specific file-syncing technology called block-level copying, where files are broken into smaller packages. When you make a change to a file, only the packages that house those changes are re-uploaded to the cloud—instead of the entire file. The result is data transfers that take far less time. Microsoft OneDrive’s backup options are more limited, only allowing for photo and video backup. But on the plus side, you get more control over your photo backup settings, including organization options for new photo uploads and the ability to select a file type for HEIC photos

 

Microsoft OneDrive - Screenshots

Pros

  • It interfaces with the Microsoft suite well, which is good if you’re already engaged with much of the other software applications. Being able to access anywhere with the shortcut is very useful.
  • Great with device synchronization which ensures access of files from any device. Integration is more reliable and effective. Cloud storage of data makes it’s easy to access files and documents.
  • Multiple files can be uploaded simultaneously. If we add the Active X tool, you can upload elements unlimitedly.
  • , OneDrive is far easier to set up than using a flash drive. The reason why is because all you need to set it up is a Microsoft account and you’re good to go!

 

Cons

  • Private vault doesn’t have great 2FA options. Need to get an authenticator app code, vs just using something like Windows hello – More difficult to upgrade storage once you get past 1TB
  • It has less storage on a free plan compared to drive.
  • User Interface is clunky and takes time to get used to
  • Synchronization of shared files needs work.

Citrix Sharefile

The latest version of ShareFile has updated workflow options allowing you to send documents out for signatures, feedback, and approvals. There’s integration with Microsoft Outlook, which lets you push document attachments directly from Outlook to ShareFile, sharing those documents securely with others. There are new desktop integrations, similar to those you’ll find in Dropbox, which let you do drop a file into a folder on your Mac and have it synchronize with ShareFile so it’s available on all your device. While it still lacks the kind of refined group management tools we see in a file-sharing application, the service’s Distribution Groups are a move in a good direction.

ShareFile Dashboard

Pros

  • Great plugin support, such as the Outlook plug-in makes provision for secure file-sharing with customers as well as secure emails very easily.
  • Flexible folder creation and sharing.
  • Easy to share and request for large size files to personnel inside and outside the organization
  •  Ability to integrate with existing Office 365 Deployment for ease of use. It allows multiple remote teams to collaborate in real-time with a simple management process.

Cons

  •  Interface not always intuitive compared to other solutions.
  • Not commonly used in all industries, presenting a learning curve to some users.
  •  Sorting out your preferences, in the beginning, is time-consuming. As a standalone product it suffers from not being that well interconnected to Google and/or Microsoft products.
  • Sharefile subscriptions come with very different pricing options with varied features. So, if you go with a basic plan you would only get basic features like storage and sharing. Other plans are a little bit costly and include features like Office 365 co-editing, Gmail and Outlook plugins, encryptions, and electronic signatures.

FileCloud

FileCloud, by Codelathe, is an on-premise as well as a cloud-based file sharing and sync solution offering a much secure environment for sharing and storage with unlimited client accounts allowing for a much greater ROI (return on investment) compared to Dropbox. The client base spans globally with over 3000+ enterprises.

FileCloud has been focusing on security, data leak prevention, content classification, data governance, and retention for some time with an intuitive and easy to use interface and advanced administration controls.

  • Access files from anywhere for uninterrupted work on the go. You just need an internet connection to access data in real-time
  • Remote file sharing without VPN or FTP
  • A collaborative workspace ensures that multiple teams working on the same project can collaborate seamlessly
  • FileCloud ServerLink provides geographically-distributed multi-site enterprise file sharing solution
  • Hybrid storage for fast, low-latency access via LAN and anywhere access from the cloud
  • Security and encryption for protection against data breaches
  • Regulations and Compliance for HIPAA, FINRA, EU-GDPR, FIPS-140 2
  • Unlimited file versioning
  • Free unlimited client accounts
  • A storage agnostic solution which can be deployed across any scale-out NAS or an object-based storage system

FileCloud has two plans FileCloud server (self-hosted/on-premise) and FileCloud online.

Plans start at $5,000/ year for 100 users and go up to $18,000 for the enterprise version. Dropbox’s comparable Dropbox business advanced plan costs $24,000/ year for 100 users.

Pros

  • File cloud allows users to quickly able to upload and share with a customized link and easy to organize. Setting the restrictions is fairly easy as well and notifications of who accessed what is a good confirmation that the intended party received the files.
  • The FileCloud user interface is simpler and completely web-based for full functionality, which is a nice change from the most popular cloud-based file-sharing tools. Drag and drop to copy, click to share, the URL for a file can be easily copied by any user who understands “Paste” into an email.
  • The GUI is simple to use and massive files can be exchanged with anyone anywhere in the world. Speeds for uploading and downloading seem pretty good and there have been no vendor issues when transferring files of 100 + MB to GB.
  • With FileCloud you can share and store commercial data and at the same time offer a backup and guarantee of access through mobile devices. Its interface is very minimalist and you can access its options with a few clicks. There are various ways in which you can access the files of the company or organization in which you work, without compromising security.

Cons

  • The setup process can be a bit intimidating but I found various resources that walked me through the process
  • We would like a better outlook plugin. I feel it could be more powerful and some minor changes would polish it.
  • We would appreciate being able to use a protocol different than HTTPs for the downloads as some companies can restrict it. Having the possibility of using sFTP would bring a huge plus in the flexibility of the tool.
  • It’s not a free service, it costs money.

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

Content Services Platform vs ECM – Concepts, Overview and Capabilities

Gartner, the leading research and advisory firm, has replaced the term “Enterprise Content Management (ECM)” with “Content Services Platform (CSP)” in its popular research report “Reinventing ECM: Introducing Content Services Platforms and Applications” published in Dec, 2016. Gartner feels the term “Enterprise Content Management” no longer reflects organizational needs for content in business and encourages organizations to rethink their content strategy.

What are the reasons for this change – ECM to Content Services Platform?

Traditional ECM systems has not live up to its original promise of bringing all enterprise content into one repository. The utopian concept of single repo for all enterprise data has not happened and it is unlikely to happen in the future. Infact what has happened is an increase in number of data silos in enterprises because of the advent and use of new SaaS productivity apps. Traditional ECM systems from Alfresco, OpenText and Documentum has fulfilled to some extent the goals of compliance and control. But they have failed to provide the user experiences that end users want (any device and anywhere access) and they come short when it comes to solving new functionalities like enterprise file sharing and sync, group communication, team collaboration and others.

What is Content Services Platform?

Gartner analysts define Content Services Platform as a “a set of services and micro services, embodied either as an integrated product suite or as separate applications that share common APIs and repositories, to exploit diverse content types and to serve multiple constituencies and numerous use cases across an organization.”

If you want a simple definition Content Services Platform are nothing but “an API centric, cloud/device-agnostic next generation enterprise content management systems that support multiple repositories, endpoints, content types and business use cases to serve multiple stakeholders across an organization.

Products like FileCloud, M-Files, Box and Hyland Onbase fulfill the Gartner definition and can be called as Content Services Platforms.

Core Features of Content Services Platform

1. While traditional ECM systems support a single repository, Content Services Platforms support external content repositories in addition to its its primary repository. For instance please see FileCloud architecture given below,

In-addition to its primary repository (Managed Storage), FileCloud supports external repositories (Network shares, AWS S3 and Azure Blob storage). A traditional ECM architecture is shown below that supports a single, primary repository.

2. Content Service Platforms are API centric. All clients use the common APIs to access the content from the repositories. For instance, all FileCloud clients (Sync, Drive, Web, Outlook Add-in, Mobile apps) use the same REST APIs to access the content

3. Compared to traditional ECM architecture, Content Service Platforms offer intuitive user interfaces and excellent UX to appeal to business users. In-addition they provide flexible architecture. Not a monolithic one .

4. Content Service Platforms offer multiple endpoint access to the content managed by CSP. For instance, FileCloud offers multiple clients (Drive, Sync, Web, Mobile apps, Browser add-ons, Salesforce integration, Outlook add-on and so on) to access the content.

5. Content Service Platforms offer integrations with popular, common line of business applications like Salesforce, SAP and others.

6. An Ideal Content Service Platform is cloud agnostic and supports public, private and hybrid cloud storage. For example FileCloud can be deployed on-premise or on public cloud infrastructure and also available as SaaS.

7. Content Service Platforms support content governance to be compliant with regulatory and organizational mandates.

8. Content Service Platforms offer powerful data leak prevention capabilities to secure and manage enterprise content. It shall also offer granular folder, sub folder level access permissions for granular access control.

9. Content Service Platforms offer flexible metadata management and enables auto classification of content to organize and secure content.

10. Content Service Platforms provide an array of content management capabilities that include versioning, document preview, annotation and editing.

digital workspace

Some Key Differences Between VDI and DaaS

In the quest for desktop virtualization, the two main options open to organizations are virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and Desktop as a Service (Daas). With our growing dependence on computers and Internet-based applications, more and more organizations are opting for desktop virtualization from schools to finance companies, government agencies, and even hospitals. There are many advantages of virtual desktops including improving efficiency, lowering costs, and providing better customer service. It also supports the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend.

In this blog post, we’ll highlight some key differences and similarities between them so you can make an informed decision about which is best for your establishment.

Differences between VDI and DaaS

Both VDI and DaaS allow you to access your desktop from a remote location. However, they are very different in how they are set up and operated.

The Set Up

To set up a VDI platform for your organization, you need to create a server in your data center. You’ll also need to install a VDI software on the central computer in your data center. Once that is done, you can deploy your VDI platform, and everyone on the network can access it – provided they have the proper login credentials.

On the other hand, you don’t need to set up a server and datacenter to use DaaS. Instead, you need to signup to a company that provides DaaS. Essentially, DaaS is the same as VDI in terms of functionality and remote access to your desktop.

Accessibility

The main downside of using DaaS is that you need the internet to access your virtual desktop. Your connection to your DaaS platform is relayed over the web. However, lack of internet connectivity does not affect an in-house VDI setup especially if you are connected to the server.

Maintenance

You generally need a dedicated in-house IT team if you plan to create an in-house VDI platform. There is a lot of things involved in the process including managing the software and hardware used to deploy the virtual desktop as well as troubleshooting potential issues that users may encounter. The process of setting up an in-house VDI platform can be costly. You need a powerful device in your data center as well as your VDI software and a good IT team to run everything. However, thanks to advancements in the sector, both small and big establishments can create an in-house VDI platform today.

As indicated above, with DaaS you do not create the virtual desktop but instead, subscribe to a company that provides this service over the internet. But this does not mean that you do not need an IT department to run your DaaS. However, they’d be doing less work compared to running an in-house VDI service. For example, some DaaS platforms come with only basic apps that you’ll find on a device. Therefore, you need IT experts to set up and maintain all the apps that people on the network will need.

Cost

On the surface, it appears that subscribing to a DaaS provider is a more affordable option than creating an in-house VDI. But that is not necessarily the case. Most DaaS providers charge based on the number of users that you have on the platform (i.e., the more users you have, the higher the subscription fee that you’ll have to pay). So, while the upfront cost may be low, it can climb over time as your organization grows.

The story is completely different for setting up an in-house VDI platform. Although the upfront cost will be high, that’s about it. You can add as many people to the network as required without having to spend on anything else apart from perhaps upgrading your hardware and paying for your IT staff working hours.

Control

You invariably have more control over an in-house VDI than you do over a DaaS platform. One of the reasons why this is important is security. The recent spate of hacking incidents has forced many organizations to tighten their security protocol. The fact that DaaS is deployed over the internet makes it susceptible to hackers. DaaS service providers have a lot of security measures in place to prevent any potential data breach, but there are no guarantees.

With an in-house VDI platform, you have complete control over the network, and you can implement the best security measures to protect your data. The fact that the VDI is usually accessed by people connected to a server automatically makes it less open to unauthorized access.

How FileCloud can Help

If you are using VDI, FileCloud can be useful. We provide all the tools that you need to make the most of your virtual desktop. You can integrate FileCloud with your server.

The following are some of the benefits of choosing FileCloud:

Customization: FileCloud allows you to customize all aspects of your virtual desktop with your company’s brand. You can even select a different language for the platform.

Collaboration and Content Management: We provide a range of tools to support seamless collaboration and content management. This includes the ability to share files, add metadata and search for files, access and sync files on different devices, access to activity log on each file, smart notifications when a file is changed, custom workflows and much more. FileCloud even supports Microsoft Office apps like Word, Powerpoint, and Excel as well as PDF and DICOM files.

Security: FileCloud provides full security for your virtual desktop platform including encryption, ransomware protection, two-factor authentication, and more.

Administrator Tools: FileCloud gives you administrator access over your virtual desktop. You can manage all connected devices, restrict access to specific files, remotely wipe devices, recover deleted files, and much more.

Conclusion

The underlying similarity between VDI and DaaS is that they both provide you with remote access to a desktop. One is not necessarily better than the other. The option to select depends on your needs (i.e., the size of your organization and what the virtual desktop will be used for). It should be stated that DaaS is relatively newer than VDI. Some tech experts have expressed some apprehension about DaaS since it is a rapidly evolving field. The fact is that DaaS would not replace VDI anytime soon. Both platforms are likely to exist side-by-side for years to come.

Author : Rahul Sharma

Why It’s Time For Businesses to Acknowledge the Hidden Costs of BI

Many companies are implementing business intelligence (BI) software for smarter data use, but few are achieving the desired ROI results. Why? Because the organizations hardly understand the actual costs of BI. They are focusing primarily on license metrics while comparing BI analytics tool and platform vendor expenses, not realizing that it’s only a fraction of the total ownership costs.

So, failure comes from evaluating the “sticker price” of the BI solution and comparing it with direct returns from data analysis. The cost of the BI tool or that of the present situation is underestimated. To know more about the hidden expenses of business intelligence, read below:

Scaling Costs

 

 

Businesses cut corners wherever they can, often buying low-end data tools that work fine for a year or two, but then fall short while handling the growing data quantity. Moreover, new IoT devices and other new technology increase the complexity and number of data sources.

Thus, the cheap tool you bought earlier is a short-term solution; it is not a permanent answer to your data requirements. However, by the time you realize this, you’ve already wasted considerable resources purchasing licenses, allotting training hours, and making your employees reliant on this tool.

No wonder they have zero interest in knowing more about the use of a different software tool. As a result, companies must grudgingly spend their extra resources for implementing a new, full-fledged business tool. The alternative would be to keep on working with a subpar tool that does not fulfil all their requirements.

Buying Into the Hype

A big mistake that organizations make early on is buying into the business intelligence hype – investing in the latest, most advanced BI tool just because they’ve been told they need one, rather than choosing one on the basis of its problem-solving capabilities. There’s no doubt that business intelligence is of value to companies, but spending money on a BI tool arbitrarily doesn’t do any good. You must first identify the issue you’re outlining or hoping to solve; otherwise, you will never achieve the desired results.

First, think about your business problem along with what your company hopes to achieve. Have a clear idea of the capabilities required to solve those issues or fulfil that goal. Select a BI tool that adheres to those requirements. This way, you will avoid spending money on something that has no place in your organization.

Integration Expenses

One of the key considerations in a cost-benefit estimation of BI tools is whether the current ecosystem can support the software. Another is, whether it can serve as a standalone solution for data analytics or join the cluster of other programs to be of any real value to the company. What’s important is that you understand the number of moving parts the analytical value chain contains. First, you’ve got to connect the raw sources of data and then perform ETL and data cleanse before analysis.

Most market BI tools perform only the last stage, using flashy dashboards and graphics to hide how every important backend task is delegated to an IT professional or a separate tool. Thus, you need to carefully understand the functionality you’re going to get from the desired software. Tools – both the single and full-stack varieties –  serve well as platforms for handling various activities, from data modelling to preparation to the development and sharing of dashboards.

While using proprietary database tools and ETL with data visualization software is not wrong, you must figure out how all this changes the final price, and whether you’re willing to foot the bill for the perfect analytic solution.

Manpower

 

You must also think about the price being paid for by your company as your precious employees spend more time preparing reports instead of focusing on different mission-critical activities. While this applies to the first scenario, where everything’s done through spreadsheets, when you’re getting a modern business intelligence tool, you need to ensure it upholds the standards of self-service expected by business users.

Regular enterprises sought help from qualified data analysts and IT professionals, to build BI. They needed somebody who was perfect for coding and scripting for the purpose of a different query. Though modern tools neglect this, with back-end functionality being absent means that coding and scripting happen in the initial data preparation phase. Businesses users within the company will no longer have to struggle with countless spreadsheets; they can assign the task to technical workers instead, who must operate IT-focused systems for producing reports. To avoid this, business users in your company should consider the tool and answer personal data questions, rather than relying constantly on external or internal tech support.

Opportunity Costs

When you’re unable to do something because you decided on something else, the cost incurred by the company is the opportunity cost. It’s one of the most hidden and overlooked BI expense, and you need to consider what you’ll do during that time with those resources. Although this is difficult to measure in projects, it becomes easier to find the similarities between projects and assign a value to any missed opportunity.

Upfront Payments

Companies often buy business intelligence upfront due to a combination of factors, from high pressured sales strategies to promises of big discounts, to decision makers failing to realize the best course of action. This can significantly add to your BI program expenses and also lead to shelfware if your employees fail to receive proper tool training or remain clueless about the positive impact of the tool and refrain from implementing and using it within the organization. To prevent wasting the company money, you should seek out a BI tool vendor that gives you the opportunity to begin small, prove that the concept is useful to your business, and then scale as required.

Unanswered Questions

 

 

Successful BI depends on people in various roles, and even when the project is deployed, many of those roles continue to play a vital part. However, end users will only enter into the process if they think the question they want to answer is worth their effort and time. We automatically assume that a new BI solution is going to be better, which is precisely why we invest resources and time into implementing it. But does it answer the questions of the end users? Think about the questions not asked because they weren’t worth the effort. Or worse, if they were worth it, but the user refused to wait due to lack of time, and so, made an instinctive decision.

Businesses thinking about BI will rarely have the necessary visibility into these missed questions until they discuss the situation with end users. The price of an unasked question may be considerable, for example when you’re deciding if you want to pull or extend a specific marketing campaign.

Workflow Expenses

 

Rather than look at BI from a tech perspective, you need to consider it also from an end user’s workflow perspective. These costs are recurring, and directly affect the other indirect expenses discussed earlier. While we’ve discussed the price of not asking a specific question above, what price do you have to pay when you do ask and receive a response? If you’re lucky, you won’t have another business intelligence platform decision on your hands for several years, but the workflow to get new answers will keep on repeating itself.

 

Concluding Remarks

So, it becomes evident that several sources of cost exist outside the upfront expenses of procuring and managing a solution. If you think that offering data-driven insights is a valuable function, you must try and appreciate the actual cost of your company’s BI solution.

 

Sources:

How to Include BI in Your 2019 Budget

https://www.thoughtspot.com/data-chief/elephant-room-hidden-cost-bi

Avoiding the Hidden Costs of Business Intelligence

 

Are You Aware of the Unintended Consequences of SaaS?

Remember the good ol’ days when software had to be downloaded and accessed on-premises? Well, the advent of SaaS changed all that and made life easier for everybody involved. Scalable, easy to install, and most importantly, cheap, Software as a Service (SaaS) has a host of benefits, including the ability to optimize the individual business functions efficiently so that departments can now procure and use the desired systems. However, everything has a good side and a bad side, and this applies to SaaS as well. Everywhere you look now, there’s data present and every system possesses its own dataset that is stored in multiple formats. So, it is getting harder to combine and rely on data.

Fusing one or more dissimilar dataset into a trusted, unified dataset is difficult, not to mention time-consuming. But it is not impossible. You just have to watch out for these five challenges and figure out ways to avoid them. Find more details below:

 

  1. Duplicate Data

 

 

Believe it or not, but the removal of duplicate data takes a long time and consumes a lot of your valuable business resources. However, this process is a must unless you want to risk the onset of inaccuracy in your consolidated dataset. For example, without duplicate data removal, you might be dealing with contacts or accounts that have not been consolidated into specific records.

You need a two-pronged approach if you’re going to tackle the duplicate data problem. First, you must begin the de-duplication process within a certain silo to prevent applications from having more duplicate data inside them. Once that’s done and you’re ready to merge datasets, you have to connect similar records throughout all the systems in your organization. If you require duplicate cleanup work within a certain application, then you must load the non-duplicate data and flag any duplicates you find for cleanup within their systems of origin.

 

  1. Conflicting Data

 

 

A big advantage of SaaS systems is how several business processes and users contribute to a shared database to power the application. However, an unintended consequence of this method is how different apps end up with different data on the same clients. If your system shows records of a customer having two separate accounts, your analysis encounters some severe obstacles. Even a single update is capable of spangling various databases, tables, and even rows, with conflicts. And resolving these kinds of conflicts “by hand” is not only difficult but impractical as well.

Thankfully, there are two approaches – both automated – that can help you resolve conflicts existing in your data, viz. Last Modified and System of Record (SOR). While the latter focuses on the ranking of the system to find out which one is the winner in case of a conflict between two types of data, Last Modified involves using the most recently updated information across different systems for a specific field. It is possible to use a single approach to avoid any future data conflicts or a mixture of both, depending on the circumstances.

 

  1. Inconsistent Formats

 

 

While conflicts jeopardize the accuracy of your company data, inconsistent formats cause the values to conflict with one another. What this means is, even if the data is not wrong, one system might format the dates as YYYY-MM-DD and the other might use the DD-MM-YYYY format. So, even though both the details are technically correct, querying the same information can prove a hassle. From Booleans to states, phone numbers to capitalization, when you’re applying a certain standard to your data, you can update the formats for a countless number of fields.

The solution here is to standardize all your data into a single format and establish consistency. This will help improve the speed of the comparison processes as the databases will no longer have to verify the different formats against one another at a specific time.

Creating rules about which formats are going to be treated as the canonical standard for every type of entity helps make sense of the acronyms, abbreviations, order matching, and casing. Thanks to the removal of inconsistencies, improvements in data quality become noticeable, analysis becomes more reliable and querying speeds up.

 

  1. Critical Data on Related Objects

 

The relative objects tend to differ considerably when a SaaS solution is built and deployed in isolation. Related objects encompass a vast range of data associated with a specific contact, such as their opportunities, account, support tickets, departmental activities, and so on. However, a lot of the related data gets lost during data extraction, thereby causing problems with the completeness of consolidated datasets.

The best solution is to compare records on common identifiers between non-identifying and identifying fields. For matching a Contact record, for example, you must begin with an email address, since this common identifier offers the greatest probability for a singular match across different systems. There are multi-level de-duplicating keys that incorporate extra supporting data like company, address, and name. No matter what sort of common identifiers you use, related objects should always be mapped so you’re able to achieve a complete standard data schema for powering your analytics.

 

  1. Data in Source Apps Are Continuously Updated

 

 

Data constantly gets updated, which signifies that the consolidated data sets manufactured by your business might become obsolete if a part of the source data changes. It is difficult to keep data constantly updated. When connected data sources are no longer in sync, the data used to feed business intelligence tools, like dashboards, start outputting less reliable reports.

It’s tedious to query siloed systems for the latest data every time the data inputs are changed. It is better if you spend your time analyzing different datasets, finding insights, and sharing recommendations with others in your company. Use automated pipelines to join the dots between the data in apps and your central database to analyze, bridge the gaps between analytics and apps.

In such situations, data is going to be updated in almost real-time, anywhere from five minutes to 24 hours. This unified and consolidated data not only saves data prep time but also provides trusted data resources. This ensures that every customer record in your company is available in a centralized, trusted source, but at the same time allows separate SaaS apps to perform vital business functions.

 

Concluding Remarks

 

So, there you have it – the unintended consequences of SaaS and how to successfully overcome them. Thanks to these handy tips and tricks, you won’t have to worry about accessing your software online or mishandling of data.