Is hybrid ECM a good alternative to file-sharing apps?

As more employees eschew corporate policy by using file-sharing apps to get work done, ECM vendors are forced to play catch up. Could hybrid ECM be an alternative to these user-friendly apps?

People will try to get their work done in the simplest way possible, regardless of the corporate policies that block access to some sites. Usability is something that, over the last 20 to 25 years, has moved from the domain of application designers to something that is right in our faces. A big reason is the consumerization of IT and the notion of having a device in your pocket that lets you do lots of stuff, including downloading your own apps. It's becoming an expectation.

The usability question is a big part of the whole change management exercise, which involves figuring out how people are going to use these systems. If you make them hard to use, then people won't use them and you'll immediately diminish the value. First off, for any ECM or file-sharing system to work, usability is absolutely critical.

With ECM, you can implement file-sharing on-premises or in the cloud, or in a hybrid way. It's a matter of what works best for your company because of technical skills, IT infrastructure, budget or your ability or inability to make capital expenses as part of your purchase decisions.

The other questions you should ask have to do with the nature of the file-sharing application: Is it just putting the document out there for anyone to pull it down and read it, or do you need more full-blown ECM/VPN capabilities? You have to look at it in both dimensions and make the best match.

Before you get too carried away with hybrid ECM, find out if your issue is really shareability and content accessibility. A lot of that can be achieved through intelligent metadata management and search. The future will combine different hosting options, but there's lots of room in between to tune them to maximum effect.

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