Your colleagues (and the client) are all desperate to see what you’ve come up with. But one’s on the East Coast, another’s on a plane, a third is at the firm’s Chicago office, and the client’s based in London. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to send your 5 GB file as an email attachment.
File sharing can help. Not the Napster kind of sharing that sent people to jail, but the enterprise/online variety that helps businesses keep projects on track and doesn’t flinch when you want to send big files.
Of course, there are numerous online file sharing alternatives. Some act like simpler alternatives to sharing files online through FTP. Others are part of a larger collaboration suite that offers screen sharing, commenting, versioning, review, and approval.
Cloud-based repositories can store files for on-demand retrieval using passwords and other security protocols, but data protection is a given for just about every type of file sharing option today. And security is often IT’s top priority; let’s face it, employees will default to whatever is easiest and, if it takes multiple steps to access files on a corporate server, employees will (or will be tempted to) upload files to public cloud file sharing services.
So, let’s do a rundown of file sharing’s big advantages. These are file sharing’s “greatest hits” in terms of benefits to B2B users.
Files are now like portions at American restaurants – bigger than ever. With graphics, audio, and video (on their own or embedded in word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation files), 21st Century documents can be astronomically large. Attempting to send big files by email is a shortcut to frustration.
With file sharing, though, size is almost never an issue. You can send multi-gigabyte documents and only hit the wall with free online file sharing services: those offerings will often have file size limitations that their paid versions don’t. And the costs are so reasonable – most cost less per month than the price of coffee (per employee) for a week, while others have comprehensive annual plans – that it makes business sense to pay the price.
Data security is vital for shielding trade secrets, intellectual property, marketing plans, financial information, and personally identifiable information. Corporate espionage is big business, and major economies have been implicated in rather unsavory hacks into company servers.
Online file sharing companies help lower the odds of a breach by encrypting files in transit, enabling password protection for both the sharer and the sharee, and sometimes providing extra levels of security for mobile devices, such as authorization and authentication.
This is where you can cue up The Police singing “Every Breath You Take” if an online file sharing service makes it clear that “I’ll be watching you.” That, however, is a good thing. It lets you (and your teammates and customers or clients) know when a file was uploaded, when and by whom it was viewed, who downloaded it, when it was downloaded, and who modified it.
On one level, it provides a useful audit trail. On another, it makes it impossible for someone who did take action to claim they didn’t. (You know those people.) And for colleagues working in different locations and time zones, everyone can see who’s in sync with the rest of the team and who is still lagging behind (and might affect a project’s delivery schedule).
Traditionally, file sharing has been like a round-trip flight. The file goes to one destination, where it may or may not have a good experience, and then the file or people’s comments about it return in the other direction. That is not a collaborative or iterative process.
Sharing files online is now a vital part of a more productive team approach. When file sharing is an integral part of online collaboration, which is the case with cloud-based tools like Brosix and others, those colleagues and clients can:
When people send large files, small files, graphic files, or any other digital documents, two things tend to happen. First, everyone can be, literally, on the same page and, when they are, the work gets done faster (and getting work done faster leads to greater productivity). Second, working on the same files collaboratively reduces the potential for errors, eliminates the need to do things over, requires less labor and, thus, brings down the cost.
When file sharing online contributes to savings, the logical conclusion is to share even more – more shared files, shared expertise, and shared credit for getting more done. And while software as a service is itself a way to lower expenditures, there are still internal systems that work equally well (and in sensitive industries like healthcare, finance, and national defense, those systems will continue as internal for a long time to come).
Even at a national government level, file sharing can be vital, though its promise is still, in certain experts’ opinions, unfulfilled. The government uses shared intelligence to analyze threats and take steps to prevent them; to spot fraud and intercept it; to detect computer system attacks and alert IT’s “special forces.” If you’re in this crowd, you understand the complexity.
For the rest of us, file sharing helps reduce the stress of “getting things done,” simplifies workflow, removes common barriers, lets you know where you are in the process, and does it all securely, cost-effectively, and fast. That could result in finding something else to share: the profits.