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In the social collaboration software market, 2015 will be the year when the old divisions become irrelevant. By the end of 2015, organizations will no longer talk about social networks, messaging apps, or file sync and share. Enterprises have already begun to stop thinking about collaboration technology in terms of traditional categories in favor of a focus on how knowledge workers accomplish their work.

Neuralytix first described these changes in the collaboration space last year (Enterprise Cloud File Sharing Converge with Enterprise Collaboration Software, Neuralytix, May 2014) and sees this trend accelerating in 2015. Organizations are asking themselves “Do I want collaboration embedded in my systems of record to facilitate cross-silo interactions or should it be the central hub of my organization’s work?” The answer depends on the type of organization and the kind of work they do.

For organizations that rely on content, especially documents, the collaboration system as central work hub makes the most sense. A great example of organizations of this type are law firms. Attorneys work in teams with other attorneys, paralegals, and clients regularly. The most output of these collaborations are usually documents such as briefs, pleadings, contracts, letters, and other common legal papers. Many of these documents are housed on secure file shares or in-house content management systems. These methods, unfortunately, don’t provide attorneys with the type of collaborative tools that make their work efficient. Content management systems work well for enforcing workflows but inhibit creative teamwork. Subsequently, legal organizations have turned to cloud-based social collaboration tools to help. Or, they would like to deploy these newer cloud applications but often can’t.

For legal and similar security and privacy conscious professionals such as doctors, government workers, and bankers, typical social collaboration technology falls short. Most social collaboration products – most cloud software for that matter – focuses on the security of the data center. For the majority of enterprises it’s enough to have your work housed by a cloud software company that protects data from internal and external threats. For attorneys, that’s not enough. Documents cannot only be safe in the central work portal; they have to be safe when viewed or edited through collaborative file sharing or even email.

An example of an organization with this dilemma would be Lawyers Without Borders. Lawyers Without Borders provides pro bono legal professionals that help bring justice to the underserved to areas that have been in conflict or where the justice system is still developing. Their clients may be victims of trafficking or human rights abuses, perhaps at the hands of their own government. Lawyer Without Borders legal professionals have all the issues that typical attorneys have, especially the need to keep documents, communications, and matters confidential. However, since they dispatch legal professionals all around the world, collaboration can be difficult with typical on-premises content management systems. Documents also need to be kept especially secure given the ramifications to their clients of an inadvertently (or purposefully) released document. In the case of Lawyers Without Borders, consequences may be imprisonment, torture, or even death.

This need for heightened security is one reason that enterprise social collaboration vendors have begun to add information rights management (IRM) to their software and why Lawyers Without Borders chose Intralinks VIA™ to be their central document collaborative repository. Intralinks VIA helps to protect documents, not only when in an Intralinks cloud but also when the document is stored locally. By storing and sharing documents from Intralinks VIA and using its embedded IRM capabilities, Lawyers Without Borders can ensure that documents are protected no matter who gains access to their local files. Since Lawyers Without Borders also holds the encryption keys for their documents, they can feel more confident that even Intralinks cannot be compelled to make encrypted documents accessible to third-parties.

Ultimately, organizations that rely heavily on creative output such as documents, graphics, or video will adopt the central work hub approach. Having their collaboration software at the center of the organization’s work will allow them to reap the benefits of enhanced teamwork that drives more efficient and effective output. For many organizations though, this transition cannot happen until these systems address their special security and privacy features needs. The good news for organizations such as Lawyers Without Borders is that there are options that allow them to collaborate effectively but safely.

Sponsored by Intralinks (NYSE: IL). All opinions are those of Neuralytix and its analysts.