It is something that I noticed in the last three years of my long life at Syncplicity:
Customers want to integrate the Syncplicity Content Collaboration Platforms with their own existing—should I say “legacy” applications.
Some of them even home-grown systems that were tailored to their business needs… (at the time they built 10-15 years ago).
Content Collaboration Platforms: A trend common in the market space of CCP
Or should I first start with clarifying what Content Collaboration Platforms (CCP) are? A few years ago, analysts found the space of “File Sync-and-Share solutions”—to become a pretty large space and started to differentiate platforms that could help with exchanging data and allowing participants from both internal as outside your organization to work together in a collaborative way.
This is where you see names such as Dropbox. You know… these tools that your people are using (allowed or illegally) to exchange files with partners, suppliers and maybe sometimes also customers. Syncplicity is one of those Content Collaboration Platforms… BUT focusing strongly on security – the ability to store the data wherever you want it (on-premise in a private data center or a public cloud) and many use-cases that allow our customers to keep their operational costs under control. Syncplicity is often referred to as the “Dropbox for the Enterprise.”
Why would organizations need a Content Collaboration Platform?
The trend we see today is that many customers ask us to integrate Syncplicity in their existing applications. It’s something we saw also already two to three years ago. But at the time, it usually was rather a pin-point solution, targeting only one particular use-case. For example, a sales organization wants its document brochures to be maintained in a Document Management Solution (DMS) like SharePoint and then publish the latest version of that ever-changing document to be pushed to the sales in the field once a review workflow was completed. Our customers developed such automation to cover one use-case.
Business Process Integration
Today, we see much more Enterprise Business Processes Management (EBPM) solutions where information does not flow inside one business unit like that sales department, but rather processes where documents are created from outside routed throughout the enterprise and maybe even shared again outside the company with external collaborators.
You can think about insurance claims filed by customers, a claim process that is initiated which involves external parties like insurance experts, or contractors to repair the insured damage. All these parties: The customer, the insurance organization, the external parties like insurance experts or suppliers and contractors are involved in one or more business processes where such information should be processed in a secure, yet efficient way. In Healthcare, you see healthcare providers like hospitals, (external?) doctors, health insurance organizations and additional suppliers like home-care workers who need to assist the patient afterward.
Multi-factor user experience
These parties all need to have the information, be able to contribute to the information by either creating the content, access and view or modify the information and the challenge is that each party can use their own “information consuming device.” The customer might use a tablet, the doctor a Mac, the insurance broker a Windows PC and the supplier may be a browser.
Unlike the previous decade where traditional electronic workflows were introduced inside one organization, today these business processes include multiple systems and multiple devices: an ERP system, one or more CRM systems, a records management system and a collaboration platform to exchange the information securely across all these devices.
External Information Exchange
The challenge is to have that collaboration platform like your need for that CRM or ERP: It needs to meet your requirements for internal and external collaboration in an intuitive approach and across multiple platforms and form-factors. It needs the ability to integrate with as much as other vendors of cloud storage platforms, ERP & CRM systems and EBPM solutions.
Compliance vs. User Experience
What we have not talked about so far is security and compliance: Where some organizations or even verticals in the industry might have no objections on storing sensitive data in a Public Cloud, maybe your other parties that you collaborate with cannot or won’t allow their data to be stored in a Dropbox or WeTransfer.
The ideal collaboration platform, therefore, offers content services that have built-in capabilities for Policy Management. Policies that allow you to dictate where information needs to live; on-premise, inside your own data center or in a Public Cloud or a service provider of your choice. That insurance organization can store their customer-related data on-premise, but could allow pictures of my damaged car in a secure public cloud? The Hospital Group can store their patient data on-premise but have marketing videos stored in an Azure or Amazon cloud. External suppliers of the engineering company might use their own on-premise Storagevault but your projects need to be stored on-premise for compliance reasons.
So knowing all this: How would you as an organization exchange YOUR information? Do you recognize the above requirements?
Next steps for you to take:
Do you have already such a collaboration platform? Does it meet the requirements for mobile and desktop users?
How well is your existing solution in external collaboration? Does it offer the ability to just share a file, but is it rather clunky for external participants to work on a Shared Folder and not letting them work with such information offline? Does it offer the ability to have security enforced across devices and perform a remote wipe on devices from the contractor once you removed them from a project?
Does your existing platform offer APIs to integrate with your applications? If so, are these APIs documented and do they allow to be controlled by an API Management solution or are these APIs only to be consumed from an application-to-application perspective?
How are automations to be done in your current platform? Are you required to code this automation yourself inside the platform as a legacy workflow? Or would you rather work with open APIs that can be consumed from any other platform cloud-to-ground/ground-to-cloud/cloud-to-cloud? E.g. can you integrate your existing platform easily with Salesforce, DocuSign or SAP?
Does your current collaboration platform also cover additional use-cases? The more use-cases it could cover, the more value you get and the more price-efficient the solution becomes. Syncplicity can cover a multitude of use-cases ranging from Desktop Protection, protection against Ransomware and data loss, secure internal and external collaboration, replacement of file servers and consolidation of storage platforms to reduce costs.
Tip: If your CFO comes to you and says that you already have a solution, then respond that Syncplicity can do more than that ONE-thing.
Using Syncplicity APIs–providing a number of REST APIs to extend the solution.