1 A Forrester Consulting Thought Leadership Paper Commissioned By Dropbox March 2014 File Sync And Share And The Future Of Work
2 Table Of Contents Executive Summary...1 Workers Are Embracing Sync And Share As Part Of A Mobile Work Style2 The Momentum Is Driven By Real Business Value...4 A Strategy Is Crucial To Making Sync And Share Successful...5 Key Recommendations...7 Appendix A: Methodology...8 ABOUT FORRESTER CONSULTING Forrester Consulting provides independent and objective research-based consulting to help leaders succeed in their organizations. Ranging in scope from a short strategy session to custom projects, Forrester s Consulting services connect you directly with research analysts who apply expert insight to your specific business challenges. For more information, visit forrester.com/consulting. 2014, Forrester Research, Inc. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited. Information is based on best available resources. Opinions reflect judgment at the time and are subject to change. Forrester, Technographics, Forrester Wave, RoleView, TechRadar, and Total Economic Impact are trademarks of Forrester Research, Inc. All other trademarks are the property of their respective companies. For additional information, go to [1-N6JWQ1]
4 2 Workers Are Embracing Sync And Share As Part Of A Mobile Work Style Gone are the days when a single desktop or maybe laptop was the only device an employee needed to get real work done. Today, people are just as likely to work on three or four different devices, sometimes simultaneously (see Figure 1). Three areas to note: Tablets have burst on the scene like gangbusters. Just a few years ago, this flat slab of memory and touchscreen productivity sat dormant on a designer s easel. Today, every company has a tablet strategy and more employees every month are firing up a tablet to pitch customers, analyze financial data, or complete facilities inspections. Tablets have entered the work mainstream. The number of four-device users is rapidly rising. It used to be that a computer and smartphone were enough for even the most advanced employee. But today, employees get work done efficiently and effectively on any device at hand, including work computers, home computers, tablets, smartphones, or all of them in a typical week. Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) drives this device usage proliferation. The biggest group of multi-device users are employees using personal devices for work. Employees are not waiting for IT to provide mobile work tools; they are using their personal smartphones and tablets to do work wherever it needs to be done. SYNC AND SHARE HAS BECOME A KEY MOBILE APP FOR WORK A mobile device is only as good as the apps that run on it. was the first important mobile app. Today, 75% of information workers with smartphones use regularly, but employees quickly figured out that they needed more than they needed all their stuff on their smartphones and tablets, which file sync and share enabled (see Figure 2 and see Figure 3). File sync and share has become a killer app. Getting all your stuff on a smartphone or tablet requires new functionality. File sync and share has now surpassed even team sites in popularity on computers. File sync and share is on the rise on mobile devices. File sync and share on tablets also beats out team sites accessed on tablets. Even on smartphones, those most portable of content capture and consumption devices, file sync and share is important to one in six users. Hourly use data shows how important file sync and share has become. Looking deeper at Figure 3, it s quite clear that respondents that use file sync and share use it as a critical capability daily. An astounding 70% of employees using file sync and share use it every single day. Employees have experience with high-quality personal solutions. One key thing the survey revealed was the level of adoption of personal file sync and share solutions: 62% of the respondents use a personal solution at work. This experience sets the bar high for a business tool that s as easy to use as a personal tool. FIGURE 1 Workers Still Use Computers Along With A Broad Array Of Devices Which of the following devices do you use at least weekly for work? Desktop computer 75% Laptop/notebook computer 56% Smartphone 41% Tablet 19% Base: 9,235 North American and European information workers using these tools (multiple responses accepted) Source: Forrsights Global Workforce Survey, Q4 2013, Forrester Research, Inc.
5 3 FIGURE 2 File Sync And Share Has Risen Beyond Team Sites Which applications do you use on these devices for work? Base: information workers using each device (multiple responses accepted) Source: Forrsights Applications And Collaboration Workforce Survey, Q4 2013, Forrester Research, Inc. FIGURE 3 File sync and sharing tools Team document sharing sites Computer (N = 4,791) Tablet (N = 899) Smartphone (N = 3,058) 35% 35% 35% 43% 28% 52% 94% 85% 82% More Than Half Use Sync And Share On A Daily Basis And Nearly 1 In 5 Uses It Hourly On average, how often do you use the file sync and share solution your company supports? Hourly 19% SYNC AND SHARE SUPPORTS MOBILE WORKERS IN A VARIETY OF WAYS The data shows just how common and frequent file sync and share has become for the most mobile of employees, but what do they use it for at work? As we see in Figure 4, the list of work activities in which file sync and share is considered the right tool for the job is long and extremely broad: Sharing files with employees leads the value list. Twothirds of file sync and share users share documents with colleagues, making it the most common usage scenario. Document collaboration increases when it s easy to share and work on files large and small together. Our survey showed that 49% of employees share files with business partners and 41% share with customers. Syncing files with computers and mobile devices is a killer app. One of the killer app features for file sync and share is the ability to load files onto every work device. The majority of respondents (55%) use the app to get files to and from computers, while 44% use it to sync with tablets. In this way, workers can get everything they need without having to manually copy it. Workflow is very important. The list of activities enabled by file sync and share is very structured and business critical: 52% of workers rely on file sync and share as part of a regular activity or workflow indicating that this type of content sharing and access is critical to regular business activities. Storage and backup are important scenarios, too. Backup and storage is about having confidence that the files will be there when an employee needs them. File sync and share provides these services, too. For some, sync and share offers a good enough alternative to traditional endpoint backup. Daily 51% Weekly Monthly Less than monthly Never 4% 4% 3% 20% 59% of IT decision-makers and 57% of business decisionmakers use file sync and share at least daily for work. Base: 451 IT managers, business decision-makers, and end users at US enterprises using file-sharing solutions
6 4 FIGURE 4 Sync And Shares Handles A Wide Array Of Tasks In what ways do you (or your employees) use file sync and share solutions? To share files with employees To copy files between computers As part of a regular business activity or workflow To back up files so I don t lose them To share files with partners To store files so I can always find them To copy files to or from a tablet To share files with customers To copy files to or from a smartphone None of the above Base: 150 IT decision-makers at US enterprises using file-sharing solutions (multiple responses accepted) The Momentum Is Driven By Real Business Value 1% 41% 39% 47% 44% 52% 49% 49% 55% 66% Managing content is nothing new, and it certainly is not groundbreaking. Content management has been a relatively mature market for more than a decade with a small number of vendors dominating the markets for file servers, document collaboration, and higher end document management. Why then does the introduction of new functionality like sync and share drive such widespread demand and adoption? The reason is simple and straightforward. Sync and share makes content, once a difficult business asset to access, available at the moment employees need it most and puts it in a more consumable format than ever before. EFFICIENCY, PRODUCTIVITY, AND EFFECTIVENESS MAKE FILE SYNC AND SHARE COMPELLING FOR EMPLOYEES When we asked respondents about the benefits sync and share solutions bring to their company, they identified a broad array of drivers (see Figure 5). Of particular note: It makes me more efficient in all aspects of my dayto-day work. A full 60% of respondents cited general efficiency as a sync and share benefit. As organizations struggle with scarce resources in a lingering difficult economy, widespread efficiency can affect revenue generation activities as well as overall expenses and ultimately the bottom line. It keeps me productive when away from the office. Over half (56%) of respondents said that sync and share positively affects their productivity when away from the office. With mobile device support at the core of sync and share and an increasingly mobile workforce, this benefit s value is only more likely to increase over time. It helps me to work more effectively with external partners, contractors, etc. In a business environment in which business partners are an increasingly important part of product and service success, easy external sharing of content is critical. More than half of respondents cited it as a business benefit. It supports critical customer-centric business functions. Beyond functionality, our survey research also pointed to specific business function benefits. Of particular note, sync and share demonstrates value with regard to customer service (47%), supporting access to content critical to sales activities (46%), and allowing richer exchange of content with customers and prospects (44%). FIGURE 5 Identified Business Value Drives Usage What benefits does your file sync and share solution bring to your company? It makes me more efficient in all aspects of my day-to-day work It keeps me productive when away from the office It helps me to work more effectively with external partners, contractors, etc. It helps to provide better customer service It supports sales activities by providing content in a more timely manner in a sales setting It supports sales by allowing me to exchange content externally with customers/prospects It takes time out of business processes that require rapid and pervasive access to content Other 1% 41% 47% 46% 44% 55% 60% 56% Base: 299 IT and business decision-makers at US enterprises using filesharing solutions (multiple responses accepted)
7 5 ADOPTION IS BROAD AND SPANS ORGANIZATIONAL BOUNDARIES Another key finding is that the benefits of sync and share apply across an organization. Unlike technology investments that largely benefit a specific department, content is used by a broad array of users in a variety of ways. And while IT is the biggest user of sync and share at 95%, general management, operations, finance/accounting, customer service, HR, and sales all reported usage in the 35% to 50% range (see Figure 6). FIGURE 6 Usage Patterns Indicate Broad Business Value Across Organizational Boundaries What departments use the file sync and share solution the most? IT General management (e.g., executive branch manager, president) Operations Finance/accounting Customer service 43% 43% 40% 50% 95% requirements, particularly in the areas of security, privacy, compliance, and integration within an overall content and document strategy. In some cases, IT will implement an enterprise version of a consumer product already in widespread use; in other instances, it will attempt to move users to a new solution that better meets enterprise standards and requirements. USER EXPERIENCE IS KEY TO SUCCESS In establishing a standard, IT must consider key end user requirements. Bear in mind that many workers are already very familiar with file sync and share because they use it in their personal and professional lives. When asked what problems they have encountered with file sync and share solutions, users most often cited performance issues, difficulties with sharing externally, mobile device compatibility, and missing files (see Figure 7). Given that these issues directly affect the benefits cited in the previous section, minimizing them becomes a critical success factor. FIGURE 7 Users Want Simple, Reliable, And Fast Human resources/training Sales Advertising or marketing Other Base: 150 IT decision-makers at US enterprises using file-sharing solutions (multiple responses accepted) A Strategy Is Crucial To Making Sync And Share Successful 1% 27% 37% 35% What problems have you had with your file sync and share solution? My computer slows down while syncing The process for others to retrieve files that I share with them is difficult and/or time-consuming It is not compatible with my mobile devices Sometimes the files I thought should be there are missing on my device I have a hard time finding the files that I am looking for even if I know they are there It does not offer sufficient storage for my needs 14% 16% 18% 18% 20% 31% It is not surprising that sync and share has generated broad interest and demand as it enables deep business value across many organizations. For many, the business value and opportunity is simply too compelling to ignore. It is not secure enough for sensitive files Other 12% 20% The move to a more strategic file share and sync approach often follows employee usage. Workers bring in a consumer version of sync and share, and IT is charged with establishing an enterprise approach and strategy. IT then takes responsibility for finding a solution that meets critical Base: 451 IT managers, business decision-makers, and end users at US enterprises using file-sharing solutions (multiple responses accepted)
8 6 BUSINESS AND IT DECISION-MAKERS FIND COMMON GROUND IN FILE SYNC AND SHARE REQUIREMENTS The data shows that all of the usual items that have always been important to IT remain so with file sync and share, reinforcing the need for a solution that is designed for the needs of a business. In this case, business decision-makers share IT s concerns and requirements with regard to a business-ready file sync and share solution for items including (see Figure 8): Security, compliance, privacy, and integration. Security is a top concern for both business and IT people. This is surprising and reassuring, signaling that both parties care about protecting the company s intellectual property. The overwhelming majority (94%) of respondents from both groups agree that security tops the list of needs. Speed, confidence, and access. When it comes to features that make employees productive, these three knowing a file is there when you need it, no waiting for a slow device to synchronize, and universal access to files from any device in any location are important to both business and IT leaders. Sharing. As expected, it s not just synchronization that these leaders care about, as 92% of IT decision-makers (ITDMs) and 89% of business decision-makers (BDMs) see sharing as a critical requirement for these solutions. FIGURE 8 Requirements Are Across The Board How important are the following features of a file sync and share solution? ( Important or very important ) Security Sharing Speed Confidence Large file size Access Compliance Administrative controls Intuitive App integration 84% 82% 80% 94% 92% 90% 90% 88% 88% 88% 94% of ITDMs and 94% of BDMs say security is important. 92% of ITDMs and 89% of BDMs say speed is important. 92% of ITDMs and 94% of BDMs say sharing is important. 90% of ITDMs and 44% of BDMs say intuitive use is important. Base: 451 IT managers, business decision-makers, and end users at US enterprises using file-sharing solutions Intuitiveness. It s only here where we find divergence among these different leadership groups. Perhaps surprisingly, IT cares more about a highly usable and intuitive tool than business leaders. This finding can perhaps be explained by the fact that it s often IT groups that have been most pummeled by solutions that are not usable, so their sensitivity to delivering a great user experience is heightened.
9 7 Key Recommendations Mobility now shapes the world of work. Against this new landscape, users demand file sync and share because it drives business value in critical areas such as sales and customer service. Because the technology also creates opportunities to drive higher revenue and happier customers in the age of the customer, these are benefits that must be supported and nurtured. Furthermore, the business value of these solutions is widespread and far-reaching, extending well beyond sales and customer service to all knowledge workers and all business aspects. Both IT and business leaders care about making the solution work for everybody. There s still work to do. Not every company has adopted file sync and share capability, and not every employee is using it. Take three steps to make file sync and share work for your company: Determine the current usage of sync and share and use it as a starting point to drive value. Approach the use of consumer sync and share solutions in your organization as an opportunity, not a problem. If your people have found a way to magnify the value of your enterprise content, find out what they re doing and how it could benefit everyone in the organization. Interview current users and determine patterns of business value for a broad, strategic rollout. Put people and usability high on your evaluation criteria list. The bar for user experience and performance has been set by consumer offerings, and it is high. If you try to compel employees to use a substandard app, they will revert to their preferred consumer solution. If you block access, you forgo the business value. Look for a solution that will meet enterprise needs and also satisfy users. Keep in mind that some consumer offerings also offer business solutions, so make that part of your evaluation criteria. Ensure that the solution meets your full enterprise requirements. Align your organizational requirements for security, privacy, compliance, and integration with the market landscape. There are a lot of solutions out there, and finding the one that meets your requirements will go a long way toward driving success.
10 8 Appendix A: Methodology In this study, Forrester conducted an online survey of 451 US organizations to evaluate their use of file sync and share software. Survey participants included business decision-makers, IT managers, and end users at 1,000+ employee organizations that are using file-sharing solutions. Questions provided to the participants asked about benefits, problems, and use cases for both company-provided and personal file sync and share solutions. Respondents were offered a small incentive as a thank you for time spent on the survey. The study began and was completed in December 2013.