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Standalone file sync and share is dying, and I’m not the only one who sees its imminent demise.

When Gartner unveiled its Magic Quadrant for the enterprise file synchronization and sharing (EFSS) market, the analyst house predicted that less than 10 percent of today’s vendors would still offer standalone offerings in 2017. This week’s news that Microsoft and Dropbox have teamed up to let users of Microsoft Office sync and share documents in Dropbox, in addition to Microsoft’s OneDrive, emphasized this. The partnership clearly recognizes that users want to choose different file sync and share services underneath the applications they use.

So, why is standalone EFSS slowly disappearing? File sync and share has always been about solving the problem of backing up a user’s documents, at the same time as making them available on all of the user’s devices, mobile as well as PC. However, as more and more applications, such as Microsoft Office, themselves move to the cloud, pure file sync and share solutions are becoming commoditized and appearing as a feature, both in productivity applications and more powerful team collaboration solutions. The latter, designed specifically to enable teams to work better together, increasing productivity, and creating new ways to interact with customers, partners and suppliers, is where the true value lies for enterprise and government organizations.

The fact is, while standalone EFSS offerings are extremely useful for the individual, giving them instant access to their content on any device, they present a huge challenge for enterprises and distributed teams. Having enterprise content fragmented and stashed all over the place, without audit trails, comments and context, not only leads to potential security breaches but confusion for teams. How do people know if they’re looking at the latest version, who has provided feedback on documents and who still needs to review and approve the content?


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While Microsoft and Dropbox’s partnership sees Dropbox shift further toward solutions for the enterprise workforce, it’s important to remember that editing plus syncing does not equal a collaboration offering. Yes people may be able to get to files faster, edit documents, sync across all their devices and share with their team, but there’s a lack of context, intelligence, and effective ways to organize and present content to external customers, partners and suppliers. Teams need to be able to connect with each other, their content and work together in a secure, central environment that provides information in context and with full audit trails.

Intelligently surfacing content and context, as well as organizing content securely, lie at the heart of true collaboration and this is what today’s workforce, enterprises, and government organizations need.

Stuart Cochran is the chief technology officer of Huddle.

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