In recent years the modern work environment has rapidly evolved with companies of all shapes and sizes working in multiple locations and often collaborating closely with a myriad of partners and organizations around the globe.
Coupled with this explosion of borderless collaboration is an equally burgeoning tendency for employees to work nomadically, often from home or while on the road. This increased mobility translates into a more flexible work environment, increased productivity and a culture that is attractive to a new generation of technical-savvy workers.
But risks abound. All of these entities have a need at times to access your intellectual property and to share it with others. Not only are these entities accessing your intellectual property from a variety of locations, but they’re increasingly doing it with a variety of devices. The new scope of this collaborative environment presents security challenges that are no longer met by yesterday’s security models.
To address these challenges, organizations are increasingly utilizing cloud-based platforms or Software as a Service (SaaS) in order to manage and share sensitive information both with their own employees and with other parties.
One of the major benefits is the flexibility that it offers employees. Data residing in the cloud can be accessed from any location, at any time, on any device. And, because documents can simultaneously be viewed and edited from multiple locations, staff can work collaboratively even when they're not physically together.
IT has valid security concerns when dealing with this new and evolving business climate, however, when documents and files reside in a cloud-based repository built for security, the reality is that they become much more secure. A cloud-based repository is completely customizable in terms of who gets to see what and what they are allowed to do with that information and will incorporate all the features of Digital Rights Management, including the ability to “digitally shred” documents, even after they’ve been downloaded. Additionally, when employees can access the information they need from any location, on any device, at any time, they are much less likely to store that information on their own mobile personal devices—devices that are easily lost, stolen or misplaced.
Whether employing a cloud-based platform in order to facilitate greater employee productivity, or to securely share sensitive information with other parties, cloud-based computing has many benefits:
1. Lower Costs
Cloud computing reduces infrastructure—hardware, servers, software, networking management and overall IT expenses.
With cloud computing the resources a company utilizes, whether they are applications, platforms or infrastructure, are delivered as a service and are billed as a utility. In other words, just like an electric or gas bill, you only pay for what you use.
3. Automatic Updates
Due to long release cycles and the logistical complexity of upgrading software, most organizations upgrade in-house software infrequently and at great cost. When those processes reside in the cloud new features become available to users simply by refreshing their web browser. The same holds true for hardware. While an organization of any size may find it difficult to justify costly storage expansions or faster processors, a cloud provider can.
4. Remote Access
The ability to access information from anywhere, at any time, on any device is not just beneficial to employees. When a company needs to share information with other parties—partners, vendors, investors—sharing this information in a cloud-based repository reduces cost and timelines, produces an equitable environment for all involved parties and generates access to a vast pool of expertise.
5. Increased Collaboration
When your teams can access, edit and share documents anytime, from anywhere, they’re able to do more together, and do it better. Cloud-based workflow and file sharing apps help them make updates in real time and gives them full visibility of their collaborations.
6. Disaster Relief
Data centers focus both on security and redundancy. When a company’s data is stored in a cloud-based repository instead of a local server room, losing power is no longer an issue. That data is available wherever there’s an Internet connection.
Whenever a company has the need to share information with another party—such as during due diligence—having a detailed picture of how those parties are spending their time and what they’re interested in seeing can provide key insights into their level of interest, and can also help illuminate their areas of concern. A cloud-based repository not only provides the opportunity to share information securely, but it provides high-level metrics such as number of pages viewed and/or amount of time spent by each user group in each section of the data room, as well as granular metrics such as specific pages viewed and the amount of time spent within each document by each user. The ability to track and log customer activity in a data room also creates an audit trail that is not only valuable, but may be required.
According to the market research firm, Vanson Bourne, the cloud is having a measurable impact on business, significantly reducing time to market, and increasing growth rates and process efficiencies. The cloud is also serving to reduce costs, including operational expenses, IT spending and maintenance costs.
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