The widespread use of Microsoft SharePoint has made it a must-have tool for information and knowledge workers. However, with the increasing use of mobile devices in the workplace, employees want access to the same data they have in the office, including data stored in Enterprise Content Management systems like Microsoft SharePoint. When users discover that SharePoint data can't be accessed easily on tablets and smartphones, they often work around corporate IT departments & corporate IT security policies, and upload files to the first free public cloud file sharing services they can get their hands on.
Unfortunately, free file-sharing services represent a significant security risk to enterprises since they can't be centrally controlled or monitored, and security is always a cause for concern. Enterprise IT departments need to step in, take charge, and provide secure mobile access to SharePoint. However looking to Microsoft isn’t the answer. Rich Wood of CMSWire supports this viewpoint in his recent article entitled “SharePoint Mobility Forecast – Outlook Cloudy”. Mr. Wood paints a clear picture of the challenges facing Microsoft as they engage with a mobile marketplace.
As recently as three years ago, the default computing environment for knowledge workers was a PC running the Microsoft product stack. The rise of tablets, BYOD and cloud file storage and sharing didn’t just introduce a new competitor for Microsoft, it revolutionized the entire model of creating, managing, sharing and accessing business content. While Microsoft has had a good run with its SharePoint product strategy to date, effectively dominating the basic ECM space, it is having a hard time gaining traction with the mobile workforce.
IT organizations recognize they cannot restrict what mobile devices people use, so they’re looking for solutions that work on Android, iOS, Windows Mobile, even BlackBerry devices. Ensuring the full SharePoint and Office365 suite works across all mobile OSs would be a meaningful first step for Microsoft; but throw in the common mistrust of IT for multi-tenant cloud solutions, let alone one offered by Microsoft, and it’s easy to understand why enterprises are not ditching their existing SharePoint environments just yet.
With an installed base of 150+ million SharePoint users with deployments behind the corporate firewall, that is a lot of important enterprise content that you can’t get to from here - if here is a mobile device.
For Microsoft the future may be cloudy; but that doesn’t help organizations who want to enable mobile access to SharePoint today – for that you need Accellion.
Ignoring this population only places Microsoft at further risk as knowledge workers adopt third-party tools for mobile access and productivity. These third-party tools, from Accellion and others, are already well established, robust and affordable – and frequently offer features more attuned to the mobile workforce than anything offered by Microsoft. The net result? Microsoft not only needs to move quickly to address the needs of their existing users today, they also need to significantly up their game if they are to stay relevant in an increasingly competitive marketplace.