In a session entitled “Real Time Collaboration Across the Firewall,” one member of the audience raised his hand to ask how to deal with end-users who don’t care that their company is deploying a huge system like Sharepoint. Once outside the firewall, he lamented, these users will use the simplest option, like Google Docs.
So how does IT keep from being seen merely for its costly deployments that nobody cares to use? Deploy another product that helps you use your major deployments more easily! Well, sort of.
I spoke with David Lavenda of Harmon.ie, who makes a product whose goal is to reduce the steps of utilizing Sharepoint’s central repository from about nine to one. It appears as a sidebar in your email client, allowing you to view the documents you’ve been working on. One Google-esque feature includes reminding a user who is trying to attach a document (old habits die hard) that they can send a link to where the document lives in Sharepoint. (Harmon.ie also offers a similar product that deals with documents in Google docs.) An upcoming announcement includes a view of a list of people you are currently collaborating with along with which documents they’ve edited.
Often products such as these flaunt the business benefits without ever exploring the effects, or obstacles, for IT. When I asked Lavenda about how a company’s IT department might feel about deploying it, he responded positively. “It’s centrally deployed by IT. We do not add another layer of security, and we don’t circumvent security. We allow users to continue using what they’re comfortable with,” he said. While it may seem silly to add a program to do what a major deployment such as Sharepoint should have the capability to do, there are benefits to showing the higher ups a growth in your adoption rate.
One of the inspirations for this tool was the array of digital distractions reported in the workplace, compounded by the inability for users to disconnect from work and work devices even when off-duty. A little bit of work here, and a little bit of email there, can sometimes mean that users employ solutions outside of the network with data that’s supposed to be secure within the network. How do you handle end-users deploying rogue solutions over big budget deployments such as Sharepoint?