Share and Share Alike: Enhancing Collaboration
“Share your toy with your little friend,” said the mom who was watching her child playing at the local park. The child scowled and reluctantly handed the toy to the other child—until the mother’s back was turned, at which point the first child reached out and grabbed the toy back from the second child. Howls and tears ensued.
Remember being admonished as a small child to share your toys? It’s probably one of the least favorite memories of childhood. Small children do not willingly share their blocks, toy trucks, and dolls. They’re quick to declare a plaything as theirs even when the claim of ownership may be somewhat dubious. “That’s mine,” they cry, as they grab a treasured object from the hand of another child. Parents believe, and rightly so, that telling their children to share is an intrinsic part of preparing children for the grownup world. The social behavior of sharing is deeply embedded in modern life.
Parents, rejoice! All that early socialization of your children and your insistence on nurturing a sharing attitude has prepared your offspring for life in the working world, where information and knowledge sharing is accepted as a key factor for success in the workplace environment.
Benefits and Risks of Collaboration
Organizations encourage their employees to communicate and collaborate not out of selflessness but because it increases productivity and leads to greater profitability. It also increases job satisfaction. For many organizations, the tool they use to foster these work behaviors is SharePoint. Companies deploy SharePoint for many reasons. It’s become the accepted tool for collaboration and content management. But it is not a static tool and it’s not nearly as simple as children’s toys. SharePoint is full of complexity and its enhancements take some time and effort to use effectively.
The culture of sharing information and knowledge via SharePoint takes the concept well beyond the toy sharing scenario of childhood. The altruistic view of sharing your toys with all the kids in your playgroup doesn’t entirely transfer to the workplace. Unauthorized sharing raises risk and security issues. Some information really shouldn’t be shared. And some information is ripe for theft.
The following White Papers point out elements of SharePoint enhancements that foster desired collaborative and management behaviors. Permissions is one area of interest. All the kids in the park don’t need to grab hold of every single toy. In the work environment, there are documents that need a degree of secrecy. Confidentiality can actually be a component of collaboration.
Granting Permission to Share
As Accusoft’s Steve Wilson writes, “access is deployed based on what each individual user is required to have to be able to perform their job functions, rather than based on other factors such as trust level or seniority.” In playground terms, let’s translate that into the notion that just because one child is taller or older than another, it doesn’t necessarily mean that child can play with every toy around. Permission to play (and work, of course) is required.
Not everyone in the organization should be able to read confidential documents. That seems like a no-brainer, but the process of establishing permissions can get complicated. Barry Field, Cryptzone’s CEO, advises against encryption as a solution and points out that, although SharePoint 2016 can automatically quarantine at-rest documents, dynamic permissioning is a better option. Not only does dynamic permissioning add flexibility at the departmental level, it also secures email attachments. He writes, “With dynamic permissions, the administrative burden is significantly lessened and much of the administrative effort can be decentralized to the departments that own the documents and understand the needs of their users.”
Clouds on the Horizon
Not that long ago, the idea of uploading data to the cloud was anathema to those concerned about securing sensitive information. Enterprises have now become much more amenable to storing information in the cloud. That doesn’t mean the risk involved has completely disappeared. People will always look for workarounds when they are frustrated by being denied access to a particular piece of information, even when there’s a valid reason why they shouldn’t have access. Consider it the adult equivalent of the child’s howls and tears in the park in the battle over toy possession.
OpenText’s Sharon Jones Malloch explains the situation well when she writes, “Knowledge workers have always pushed the limits and bent rules to find easier, faster ways to work, and that impulse is behind their adoption of cloud-base applications. Meanwhile, those charged with managing risk and security within an organization have always responded by developing or acquiring solutions to limit the risk that users create.”
Securing information, regardless of whether it’s stored in the cloud or on a server down the hall, requires a governance policy, an information management policy, and a records management policy. Some enterprises will combine these into one central policy and procedures document. Best practices dictate that all pieces of the enterprise share the same governance oversight.
Learning and Searching
The cloud, thinks Summit 7’s Jason Batchelor, “has driven our ability to begin to leverage search and machine learning in many different ways.” That’s exciting, since it moves the cloud from a static repository to a platform where pattern recognition enables new information to be created from old data. It puts a new spin on the sharing concept by taking the scenario of two children sharing a toy in one park to identifying patterns in the sharing transactions of thousands, maybe millions, of children worldwide.
Search takes on new meaning as well. Multi-term metadata alleviates the frustration of searchers and enables information governance, says Martin Garland of Concept Searching, Inc., but he decries the fact that manual tagging still predominates. “The answer is to automatically generate metadata.”
From children squabbling in a park to employees longing to share and collaborate at work may seem a long distance. But it’s not actually that far. It’s all about cooperation for fun and profit. Although every organization implements SharePoint somewhat differently, the endgame is the same: Knowing which toy to share and doing so effortlessly.