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The growth in demand for increased collaboration and cloud-based file sharing services is contributing to significant changes in the Enterprise File Synchronization and Sharing [EFSS] market. According to studies conducted in 2016, the sector is expected to grow at an annual growth rate of 25.7 percent. This translates to more than $3 billion by 2020.
Notable products like Google Drive add value by offering additional functionality, which helps businesses improve operational efficiency. It comes as no surprise that Google was recognized as a competent player in the field. It formed part of the vendors listed in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise File Synchronization and Sharing.
The Magic Quadrant provides an easy way for businesses to gain insights into services provided by vendors. The ranking system works as follows:
- Leaders are technology vendors capable of providing well-executed offerings and have great potential for the future
- Visionaries have the capacity to disrupt market trends through great vision
- Niche Players focus on a specific segment or lack the capacity to outperform other vendors based on innovation
- Challengers lack market direction although they may dominate a huge segment or execute their services well
Google Drive satisfied the inclusion criteria, which considered a number of variables, such as product capabilities, commercial availability, delivery models and more. The cloud-based service is suitable for organizations using or planning to migrate collaboration tools to the Google Apps for Work suite.
Corporate users enjoy support from a network of resellers and technical specialists. In the Gartner Magic Quadrant, the platform's strengths were listed as the following:
- Companies can take advantage of integration opportunities with Google Apps like Hangouts and Gmail. The tools provide a convenient way to collaborate, organize, edit documents, share and communicate.
- Google Drive comes with rich SDK and APIs designed to complement EFSS capabilities.
- The platform offers robust security features to maximize data protection. It uses security keys, external sharing controls and information rights management (IRM). Files are secure on all devices, including smartphones and tablets.
- The cloud-based service allows users to extend functionality by integrating third-party platforms like HelloFax and CloudHQ.
Meanwhile, Magic Quadrant for EFSS highlighted Google's completeness of vision and its ability to execute. With Google Drive, your staff no longer have to connect to the internal office network. In addition, the service eliminates the need to carry thumb drives and store or share files as email attachments.
Levels of EFSS vendor support
EFSS technology providers offer varying levels of support for their cloud-based services. These differences helped determine ranking in the Gartner Magic Quadrant. Some of the key EFSS vendor support levels include:
- Content manipulation – file annotations and file editing
- Administration and management
- Mobility – availability on mobile devices
- Back-end server integration
- Collaborative features to support the document-based workflow process
- Usability with optimized user interfaces (UIs)
- Data protection
Enterprise File Synchronization and Sharing (EFSS) market overview
Many organizations are integrating enterprise-class capabilities like EFSS to improve collaborative efficiency and productivity. In addition, they are aiming at stemming threats posed by the use of personal cloud services in the work environment. Cloud-based file and sharing tools also eliminate or reduce reliance on conventional tools like email attachments, fragmentation file servers and FTP servers.
Investing in EFSS allows your company to enable access to enterprise content repositories using mobile devices. Employees can collaborate with colleagues while on go using a variety of platforms, such as SharePoint and Google Hangouts.
As more cloud-based storage repositories join the market to augment on-premise tools, the potential for data fragmentation increases. As a result, technology vendors provide innovative EFSS solutions designed to integrate federated legacy data repositories, distributed data architectures with the cloud-based platforms. This eliminates fragmentation allowing the platforms to work seamlessly. In addition, the integration layer creates an opportunity for companies to provide data governance or controls.
On the other hand, companies are faced with a new dilemma when selecting the ideal EFSS vendor. This is due to the huge number of vendors available on the market in addition to user requirements and use cases. Selecting a vendor using a much broader criterion creates the potential to invest in a platform lacking the required maturity.
The Gartner Magic Quadrant simplifies the decision-making process by differentiating multiple features and functions. It becomes easier to match the right EFSS platform with your organization's specific user requirements and use cases.
Gartner Magic Quadrant for EFSS evaluation criteria
i) Ability to execute
The technology vendors that participated in the Magic Quadrant were evaluated for their ability to execute. This consideration is aimed at enabling companies to assess the capabilities of new vendors in the EFSS market to meet certain service requirements. Platforms like Google Drive delivered in this regard thanks to robust features, functions and support structures. Some of the key aspects assessed include:
- Overall viability – this covers financial health and the likelihood that the vendor will continue investing in the EFSS product
- Customer experience – considers levels of technical and account support in addition to service-level agreements
- Pricing or sales execution – covers a number of presales activities and structures, such as presales support and deal management
- Market responsiveness – entails the vendor's ability to respond to market events effectively
- Product or service – focuses on the range of EFSS services and products. This criterion takes into account product quality and variety of features on offer
ii) Completeness of vision
The Magic Quadrant also considered completeness of vision in the detailed assessments. Vendors were rated for their ability to adapt to customer needs and expectations. It is widely accepted that technology providers with strong IT backgrounds have a better understanding of enterprise priorities like back-end integration and compliance. For this reason, buyers need to identify service providers with a long-term vision, which meets customers' expectations.
The evaluation criteria for rating of Enterprise File Sync and Share Products includes:
- Sales strategy – vendor's approach to sales, which determines depth of market reach
- Innovation – considers investment capacity, including expertise for deploying company resources
- Geographic strategy – optimal use of business unit resources to meet specific operational needs outside the native geography.
- Market understanding – the ability to meet customers' needs through innovative services and products
- Business model – the viability of the vendor's business proposition
- Marketing strategy – existence of a cohesive marketing approach, including a clear brand voice that resonates internally and externally.
- Industry strategy – vendor's approach when it comes to meeting the needs of specific market segments
- Product strategy – relates to product delivery and development. The strategy should focus on a range of features, functionality and differentiation
EFSS destination products & Cloud delivery models
The majority of companies are taking advantage of the cloud-based platforms like Google for Work due to flexibility and faster collaboration. For this reason, the Magic Quadrant selected technology providers capable of supporting at least one cloud delivery model.
Support for back-end integration is becoming a major requirement for file sync and sharing platforms. Participants in the Magic Quadrant are connected to at least one cloud storage service.
Data governance requires a number of capabilities, hence the expansion of vendor capabilities to include file assignments and metadata management. In some cases, technology providers use third-party products whenever they lack native capability.