On his way to the office, Joe logs in to various work apps to get a head-start on the day. When he arrives at his desk, grande latte in hand, he logs back in to the same apps. Unfortunately, he has to get his many, many passwords from the sticky notes on his monitor, because he lost his smartphone on the train. IT has changed two of his passwords overnight, leaving Joe locked out until he finds the relevant emails in his inbox. And when he finally gets to the file he’s been working on, it turns out that one of his colleagues has overwritten all the work he did on the way in…

Whose file is it anyway?

Collaboration should make everything simpler. But unless everyone’s on the same page, projects can be plagued by confusion and costly overruns.

For collaboration to really work effectively, everyone needs to know—not just hope—they’re looking at the same thing. Often teams will need to work on the same file at the same time, which is why organizations are adopting real-time collaborative solutions like Google Drive for Work. These solutions have built-in version control, enabling employees to edit files simultaneously without encountering conflicts and errors.

In the world of software development, version control is taken very seriously, as the consequences of programmers accidentally writing over each other’s code are potentially calamitous. But in many companies, there’s a confusing jumble of file-sharing systems (or, more worryingly, no system at all). Emails fly back and forth with little or no oversight. File-sharing apps come and go (often on the whim of individuals or small groups of users). Sometimes multiple apps are used at the same time. It all means that, as your company grows, tracking down an up-to-date file can be like trying to find a single, microscopic needle in an entire field of haystacks. And with customers and competitors breathing down your neck, that’s nobody’s idea of a fun time.

Stay in control

Enabling employees to collaborate on files is one thing, but for many organizations, allowing employees to access files from anywhere, on any device, is a completely different ballgame.

As more mobile devices access corporate networks, attacks on them are becoming more sophisticated. Hackers are also targeting consumer cloud services, either to cause headline-grabbing disruption or for financial gain. So it’s no surprise that security concerns make some companies nervous about allowing mobile access to corporate services.

With the financial, legal and reputational costs of data breaches, these concerns are certainly justifiable. But surely it makes better business sense to deal with the security concerns head-on? After all, if you don’t take control of mobile access, your employees probably will.

As Forrester Research has noted, “Anytime, anywhere information work is the new normal.” The chances are your employees will use mobile devices and apps for work purposes with or without your support. Meanwhile, over at Gartner they’re predicting that, by 2017, 75% of mobile security breaches will be the result of misconfigured mobile applications, often through the misuse of personal cloud apps on corporate devices. So there’s a clear business imperative to move mobile security up the agenda.

A comprehensive approach to mobile security, from the networks to the devices and the apps that run on them, might seem like a tall order for growing companies. But without this approach, it’s impossible to overcome common security challenges and free your people to become more productive. And that can seriously restrict your ability to grow your business.

So many passwords, so little time…

One of the most visible aspects of IT security, especially for end-users, is the humble password. We all use them every day, but when companies rightly insist on a policy of strong passwords that must be changed frequently, simply logging into everything you need to do your job can take time. In the end, employees can become so frustrated that they end up using the same password for everything, creating serious security vulnerabilities.

Implementing single sign-on technology is an ideal way for employers to get the security they need while taking a lot of the frustration out of employees’ working lives. With a single password sitting on top of a layer of application-specific passwords (that users don’t need to remember or record), IT can maintain proper security and employees can work without constant interruptions.

Three common obstacles, three simple solutions

  • Version control software: enabling your people to collaborate effectively
  • A holistic approach to mobile security: empowering productive anytime-anywhere working
  • Single sign-on: tighter security and a seamless user experience

Some guys have all the luck

When Joe (remember him?) gets home he slumps onto the couch while his roommate Guy tells him about his day. While Guy was on the way to work, he made a few changes to a document he’s been producing with a colleague, while version control software ensured their changes didn’t conflict. A phalanx of mobile security solutions also ensured all Guy’s data was constantly protected. Guy didn’t need a long list of passwords at work—he signed in once, and then he was signed in to everything, all day. Guy just got on with his job. Guy’s a lucky…erm…guy.