CIO Magazine recently published a report claiming that 80% of Google for Work customers with more than 1,000 users are not utilizing Google Drive. The statistic is based on whether or not users worked with Drive at least once per month. This is disappointing given that studies show the powerful benefits realized when the collaborative features of Drive are fully utilized.
While the report does not discuss why Drive adoption is low, we have our suspicions.
Peer-to-peer file services do not scale — not without some help
In Drive (and oneDrive and other cloud file services), users create their own folders and share them with individual and teams. Each user “owns” their space and their files and to find a file, it helps to know who shared it with you. And, without central management, naming conventions, and other controls, it is difficult to control and manage access to sensitive information. While these file services are not as challenging as Windows for Workgroups (circa 1992), they come pretty darn close. Users familiar with a central file structure are easily frustrated with peer-to-peer sharing and file services.
“Security” is confused with “Sharing”
Yes, Google recently announced that Ernst & Young has verified the ISO 27018 cloud privacy standard for Google Drive. But when users think of security, they are concerned about sharing — or permissions — of their files. In any cloud file service, it can be difficult to fully understand who will have access to the file you are creating or uploading. And, the nuances of Google Drive can take time to learn.
For example, when sharing a link for a Google Doc with a person that does not currently have permissions, you are prompted to allow anybody with the link to view (or comment, or edit) the document. If your intended recipient forwards the message, access is available to others outside your original intention.
In Drive, and other similar services, the relationship between exposure (who can see, view, edit the file with or without credentials) and explicit access permissions has a learning curve that is often overlooked. People will avoid using Drive if they are worried about exposure and permissions.
The rules are a bit different
Google Drive is more flexible, and in many respects more powerful, than traditional Windows and Linux file shares. This power, however, can be distracting to end users. Having multiple documents with identical names in a folder, for example, throws many for a loop. It’s not intuitive given their experience and it can create confusion as to which document is correct or current.
Using Drive and other cloud file services is different, but you can take steps to ease the transition and improve adoption.
Train Your Users:
Beyond the basic “clicks and drags” of Google Drive, help your users learn and understand how to use Drive effectively. Cover permission settings so they understand how to share safely and with confidence. Discuss document naming and version management, including how to upload new versions of documents without creating duplicates. Help them learn now to navigate drive, use the search bar effectively, and launch applications from within the web interface.
Create a Managed File Service:
With an affordable add-on, you can overlay a more traditional file server structure onto Google Drive. Tools like AODocs File Server, you can add the aspects of a traditional file server to Drive:
- Central ownership and control of space, top level folders, and folder hierarchies
- Distributed access and permissions from a central authority
- Conversion of personal to central ownership of files uploaded to, or created, within centrally managed libraries
- Inherited permissions
- Audit trails
Yes, there is a cost, but the value for many companies is much greater.
Manage Your Permissions:
Permissions are not just about user settings. Permissions should — and can — be driven by your privacy needs and the content of your documents. Tools like BetterCloud and CloudLock give you the ability to monitor and manage user access and permissions based on business rules and content as it is created or uploaded. Analysis for HIPAA, PHI, PCI, and other compliance requirements is built-in, with the ability to create customized rules for your specific needs.
With the right tools, and a knowledgeable workforce, you and your team will better adopt and utilize Drive. And with adoption, comes results.
Please Contact Us if you would like information about any of the services mentioned in this post.
We are proud to announce the opening of a regional office in New Haven, Connecticut in response to the expanding interest in, and demand for, business-effective cloud solutions and services across Connecticut and Southern New England. Located at The Grove New Haven, Cumulus Global’s new office will connect us, our industry-recognized services, and our best-of-breed cloud solutions with small and mid-size businesses and local governments throughout the region.
“With this new office, we are better able to meet the needs of area businesses,” notes Allen Falcon, CEO of Cumulus Global. “While we are national in scope, our New Haven office gives us better insights into the local economies within Connecticut and helps us better respond to the needs and priorities of our clients.”
A Microsoft Silver Cloud Partner and Google Premier Partner, Cumulus Global focuses on their customers’ results — helping small and mid-size enterprises enhance, augment, or even replace their current IT systems with more productive and cost-effective solutions. Cumulus Global has seen rapid growth over the past few years, landing at #914 on the 2015 Inc. 5000 list of Fastest Growing Private Companies in America.
“The Grove and New Haven give us a great location for serving Connecticut and Southern New England,” stated Falcon. “In addition to the local connections we will foster, we have a great space for events through which businesses can learn about cloud computing and trending IT issues while networking with peers.”
As a cloud solutions provider, Cumulus Global focuses on bringing cloud and hosted solutions into the IT mix for small and mid-size enterprises. As such, Cumulus Global works with and complements — rather than replacing — customers’ existing IT resources. This cooperative strategy helps customer gain the most value from their IT spending.
Sanebox and Sanebox for Business
In an ideal world, our inboxes would hold only those items we expect to be working on now. Unfortunately, it is easy to be overwhelmed by the volume of email that comes in each day.
What if you could eliminate email clutter? If you could …
- Train your inbox to hold non-important emails for later?
- Snooze non-urgent emails and have them return to your inbox later, at a time you choose?
- Track responses and get notified when your email is not replied to by a certain date and time?
Now you can!
Sanebox and Sanebox for Business give you the power to manage the clutter in your inbox and create a more productive environment, across all of your devices.
Sanebox integrates with Gmail, Google Apps, Microsoft Exchange, and Microsoft Office 365. Sanebox for Business gives users the power to manage their inboxes and gives businesses administrative control and a trackable ROI.
Click here for a 14-day Free Trial. Use Sanebox and see for yourself how it helps improve your productivity.
Read the Amazon best seller ebook, Outsmart Your Inbox: 25 Email Tricks for Busy Professionals
Watch the Sanebox video: “How it Works”
Interested in Sanebox for your business? Contact us to discuss plans and options.
It’s not news that the environment in which your sales team operates is changing dramatically. According to Gartner, by 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationship without talking to a human; that means your sales team will need to be more efficient with their prospects and be empowered to deliver the right information at the right time.
And they’re not the only ones dealing with changes. CFOs are no longer dealing only with financial reporting, compliance and cost control. According to a recent study by BI company, Adaptive Insights, “By driving a culture of agile, data-driven decision making throughout a company, CFOs can help create a significant competitive advantage.” CFOs are more plugged into data than ever, and that is pushing entire organizations to adopt technologies and practices that support this.
Sales teams and their support systems are no different. With all the changes empowered customers are presenting sales teams, it’s more important than ever to know what tools and techniques will really work to help your sales team operate more productively, spending less time on non-productive administrative functions, and more time with delivering value and closing deals.
A key focus of discussion in how mid-sized businesses are addressing this change has been sales enablement. It’s widely agreed that sales enablement is constantly evolving, and there’s been plenty written about it to-date with multiple interpretations and definitions of just what it means to organizations. We prefer the definition that spun out of IDC a few years back:
Sales enablement is “getting the right information into the hands of the right sellers at the right time and place, and in the right format, to move a sales opportunity forward.”
So let’s break down sales enablement into its individual components, and see how your sales team might address each aspect by leveraging cloud-based technologies to make them faster, more efficient, and more responsive to your existing—and future—clients’ needs.
Getting the right information…
How often has your salesperson been sitting down with a prospect, and they’ve had to respond to a request with the words, “I don’t have that, but I can get it to you when I get back to my (room, office, house)”? Often, sales people don’t have exactly what they need right when they need it. Perhaps it’s a PDF of a sell sheet they forgot at the last minute. Maybe it’s the contract is MS Word format, and they can’t edit it in the moment. Or, it could be a performance report showing how much more competitive your solution will help your prospect become. Depending on who you talk to, approximately 40% of sales go to the company that responds to your prospect first.
Imagine empowering your sales teams to get the right information in the hands of their prospect—right when they need it.
No need to return to the office and email a document. No need to leave, make a change to a contract, and delay signing (or worse) losing momentum. Better yet—being able to access proprietary and competitive information in the moment it’s needed to close the sale. Having your sales team plugged into and empowered by the cloud can really help them get the right information to those who need it.
To the right sellers…
Who’s to say that your salesperson is the one that’s going to move the next big deal through the next phase of the pipeline? A seller might be a customer service rep who’s helping your existing customer with an issue and has an opportunity to upsell them on your services. Anyone in your organization has an opportunity—given the chance—to sell to new and existing accounts.
In this scenario, having your data and collaboration tools in the cloud allows for a few things:
- Real-time communication. With cloud-based tools and apps, if a customer service rep is on the phone with a customer, they can instant message another employee to help solve a problem or meet a need.Or, imagine for a moment that you’re closing a deal without an engineer on hand to answer a critical question. With cloud-based communication, on-demand video conferencing brings the engineer into your meeting.
- Real-time collaboration. With the ability to upload, store, and access documents in the cloud, multiple users in different locations (or even right next to each other) can now comment and update documents in real time. The ability for a salesperson to update a proposal during a meeting, while project teams are on-hand to review, is a true game changer for many organizations.
- Assisted information and context. Cloud-based solutions allow you to bring all your tools and data together in one place. For example, in a properly implemented Google Apps or Office 365 cloud solution, you’re able to do a number of things that aren’t possible with on premise solutions:
- With email, you can see your current chain, as well as other recent conversations with that person.
- When you’re searching for material and information on a particular topic (for example, a client or engagement), you’re able to search emails AND documents stored online.
- With cloud integration, you can view social and business content alongside the email you are responding to or the voicemail transcript you are reading, providing context to conversations.
All of these combine to empower sales teams and other employees when they’re in a position of adding value to prospects and existing accounts.
At the right time…
It’s 8:00 AM in Boston, and your top sales team is getting ready to deliver that huge financial pitch over breakfast in the CEO’s conference room. Based on a late night email from the prospective customer, they realize that they need information from another presentation — but it’s 5:00 AM in your Los Angeles office and no one’s home. Fortunately, with the cloud, your team can remotely and securely access your file services, update the document, and be ready to go without batting an eyelash.
VPN has long been the go to for providing employees remote access to company assets. Everyone has a story about trying to work remotely and having to deal with VPN issues. These go away almost entirely when dealing with the cloud.
In the right format…
We’re all pretty familiar with having our email and calendars on our phones now. But today, we have full editing suites that include document editing, presentation development, and spreadsheet tools available on mobile phones and tablets. The ability to work directly in the environment, with the necessary tools, in the application preferred by a prospect, is invaluable to a sales person. No more looking at a printed page or pdf on your phone and waiting until you get back to the office to make changes. With the cloud, you make critical changes right on the spot.
To move the opportunity forward…
If your sales team isn’t focusing on moving opportunities to the next stage (closing), then they aren’t being productive. Research by Innoppl Technologies shows that 65% of sales reps who have adopted mobile CRM (cloud-based) have achieved their sales quotas, while only 22% of reps using non-mobile CRM have reached the same targets.
What are key components of the cloud that drive enablement?
Three of the ways that the cloud can enable your sales team:
- Assistive Information: the ability for your salespeople to access related information and context, in real time, while on the phone or responding to emails.
- Mobility: true integration of mobile and remote users into your environment (or, no more VPN!).
- Personal Communication Modes: We operate in a time when 3 or 4 generations of people work on the same team. Preferred communication methods vary wildly. Cloud-based communications help bridge the gap between those that prefer face-to-face meetings, phone calls, emails, and texts.
One final bonus
Once you’re in the cloud, the cost of making incremental improvements goes down. There’s no need to invest in expensive software to see if it works with your sales team. You can begin implementing trial versions and adding incremental features to see what sticks and what adds value to your business.
Do you have a sales team that is mobile, but struggling to respond quickly to prospect demands because they’re ultimately tethered to a desk? What opportunities do you see in your organization for mobile solutions? Think it might be time to switch?
If you are not sure, take our Quick Cloud Readiness Assessment. It’s only 10 questions and will tell you in less than five minutes whether your organization is ready for the change.
The photo-sharing functionality in Hangouts is changing. Going forward, the ability to share photos and other multimedia in Hangouts Chat will be set by the Picasa Web Albums service rather than by the Google+ service.
Here’s what you need to know:
- If Google+ is enabled in your domain, no further action is necessary. Google+ requires Picasa Web Albums so you can continue to share photos using Hangouts Chat just like you always have.
- If Google+ is not enabled for your domain and you want to use the photo-sharing functionality in Hangouts Chat, you must turn on the Picasa Web Albums service in your Admin console.
Please note that Google+ and Picasa Web Albums are additional services and aren’t subject to the core terms of service for your Google Apps account agreement. The functionality change will take effect in the next few days.
Our own Bill Seybolt was featured on the Main Stage at the Launch Out 2015 conference in Nashville, TN. View his entertaining take on working remotely, below.
Interested in working remotely or on the go? Contact us about the tools that make it easy.
We are please to announce the launch of our new eBook series with the publication of 7 Policies for Every Company Using Drive. Based on one of our most popular 3T@3 Webcasts, this eBook discusses information privacy and security issues and policies that should be in place to protect your customers, your information, and your business.
Our new eBook series is part of our growing suite of resources intended to help educate and inform on topics related to Cloud Computing for Small and Mid-Size Businesses.
Did you know?
Google’s programs and products for non-profits are available to non-profits and non-governmental organizations across the globe.
This Google for Nonprofits support article lists and provides links to all programs for available for non-profits by category and by country.
If your nonprofit would benefit from guidance or assistance moving to Google Apps for Nonprofits, please let us know.
This blog post is a reprint of an article first published on Experts Exchange as part of a series on cloud strategies and issues for small and mid-size businesses.
Cloud file services can fill many different roles for your business. Often, the use of cloud file services begins with employees using consumer products, like Dropbox, to share files with customers and each other. While sync-and-share can be an effective way to manage files, you should always rely on the business editions to ensure that the business is in possession of, and is managing, your data.
That said, this use of sync-and-share tends to be transient in nature. At the other end of the spectrum, many businesses are replacing on-premise servers, NAS, and SANs with cloud file services, which become the primary file service.
To help you plan how to create the best file service for your business, consider these working definitions and considerations with respect to data protection and management.
Transient File Service
- Transient file services are used occasionally for storage and sharing of files.
- Often a sync-and-share service (Dropbox, box.net, etc) or a peer-to-peer service (Drive, etc.), files are copied to the file service and shared.
- In most cases, files sync back, or are manually copied, to their primary location. As the primary location for files is protected by backups and permissions management, transient file service generally don’t need or have backup protection.
- Permissions management is often the responsibility of the individual users. As such, transient file services should not be used for sensitive or protected (PHI, PCI, etc) information.
Secondary File Service
- A Secondary File Service will fill the role that the Transient File Service provides, but will also be the home — the system of record — for some information.
- Companies create Secondary File Services to handle information that is used collaboratively, but wants to keep internally-used data and critical business information in-house. An architecture firm, for example, might have active projects residing in a cloud file service while keeping past project data and internal operations (HR, finance, accounting, strategy) on in-house systems.
- While sync-and-share can serve the needs of secondary file server, peer-to-peer and managed file services provide better control over your data.
- As a Secondary File Service will be the system-of-record for important information (i.e., the data is not synced or copied to other storage), these file services should be protected by Backups.
- Secondary File Services may or may not be used for sensitive or protected information. If they are, then active permissions monitoring and management is advised to prevent inappropriate disclosures, leaks, or breaches.
Primary File Service
- A Primary File Service becomes the system of record for most, if not all, of your company’s files and data. As such, the cloud file service will hold sensitive and protected data. Access, permissions, and protection are as critical in the cloud as they are on-premise.
- Backup/recovery and active permissions management become critical components for ensuring data reliability, security, and privacy, and may be required for regulatory or industry compliance.
- While smaller businesses can use the peer-to-peer, larger businesses or those with larger numbers of files find that a managed and structured file service works better.
- Centralized ownership and control over permissions improves security and efficiency.
- Sync-and-share services may still be used to support off-line work, but should be managed closely to ensure sensitive and protected data remains secure.
- A Hybrid File Service exists when the Primary File Service is split between on-premise servers and cloud-based file services. A Hybrid File Service differs from the use of a Secondary File Service in that the Hybrid File Service sees both on-premise and in-cloud as equal components of the ecosystem. Data location is based on access needs and usage rather than on the type of data.
- For some organizations, Hybrid File Services represent a transition period from on-site to cloud file services. For others, Hybrid File Services reflect a broader hybrid cloud strategy that mixes SaaS and IaaS services with on-premise systems.
- As Hybrid File Services create a cloud-based extension of on-premise servers, a managed file service with central ownership and permissions control is most often the best structure.
- With a Hybrid File Service, the cloud component requires backup/recovery and permissions protection on-par with your in-house servers.
By understanding and defining the role of your cloud file services, you have a better understanding of the type of service to use — sync-and-share, peer-to-peer, or managed file services. You can also best determined the level of backup/recovery, access, permissions, and encryption you want and need to meet your business’ needs and any regulatory or industry requirements.
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