I use a bunch of document and file synchronization, backup and collaboration tools. From SugarSync to Box.net, from Dropbox to Syncplicity I’ve pretty much used, and currently use, them all. One of the things that interests me from a business strategy perspective, is how companies that primarily sit in the backup and synchronization space manage to retain mindshare – it’s always struck me that for a tool like Syncplicity (my synch tool of choice) the ideal validation of the product is when a user forgets it actually exists – it works perfectly in the background. great for the use but terrible for a vendor trying to retain mindshare. That’s the reason that tools like Box.net that wrap significant amounts of day to day collaboration and workflow around document sharing will always find it easier to gain exposure.
Well news today from Syncplicity in my view speaks to this fact and to a certain extent at least shows the direction they’re heading. The announcement today of an Android product that is targeted at adding both file access and sharing for mobile users is a step in the direction of a true collaboration platform rather than essentially a front-end for generic cloud storage (valuable as it may be). Key indicators that this is more than a simple mobile front end for the existing application comes from Syncplicity’s release which says, front and center that the application includes a;
newsfeed to see what file activity has been happening across all their computers and devices, including updates in files and folders shared among colleagues.
Which starts to move into the territory of workflow and collaboration management far more than simple backup and sync. Syncplicity, in another move that would appear to aim straight for enterprise users, is adding enterprise grade functionality including;
- The ability to remotely wipe downloaded data and credentials if a device is lost or stolen
- Cached files stored encrypted at rest with AES-256 encryption
- The enforcement of organizational controls, permissions and policies set by administrators
The company is still articulating its offering in more traditional terms. CMOP Jeff Schulz, formerly of Bill.com says that;
We are passionate about the future that cloud and mobile computing offer businesses and individuals and are laser-focused on making file access, sharing and backup easy and effortless for users while providing the security and control that businesses and power users expect
While that is the wording today – I strongly suspect that we’re going to see Syncplicity delve more and more into the features that true collaboration vendors like Box.net (and it’s arch on-premise rival SharePoint) offer.
(Cross-posted @ The Diversity Blog – SaaS, Cloud & Business Strategy)