It is widely considered that the pace of business today is faster than ever. Start-ups have disrupted traditionally large firms and changed the way whole industries operate. From Amazon to Netflix to Uber and WhatsApp, the way we both consume content and live our lives, as well as how we do business, has changed radically over a very short space of time.
But looking back, we can say that the pace of business, the pace of change has always, in its own time, been at its fastest, hasn’t it? Think of Henry Ford and the reinvention of the assembly line. Or think of the computer industry in the eighties and nineties, and, following that, ‘dial-up’ Internet. Today, it’s true, that we want to do things faster—perhaps as we’ve always done—the idea of waiting minutes to get online is laughable. Even exhibiting patience for a website with a momentarily slow Internet connection is practically unheard of; it’s on to the next most relevant site that’s faster. It’s a little frightening to think how frustrated we can allow ourselves to get when we can’t access a piece of content in an instant. Or how our businesses can be affected by glitches and gaps in our technology.
We now expect technology to work perfectly first time around, and when it doesn’t, we instantly look for alternatives. Microsoft’s OneDrive for Business is one of those technologies which can leave users waiting far longer than they’d expect for an enterprise grade tool. What exactly causes these blockers, and what can be done about them?
A comprehensive User Interface that works offline
The idea of mobility and collaboration tops the list whenever we talk about practical business priorities. Towards the end of 2015, Gartner surveyed 3,000 CIOs in their annual CIO Agenda Report. Their survey found that CIOs place mobile third when it came to technology priorities for 2016. The reason? We want to get our work whenever and wherever we are—even if that means not being in the same office as someone we need to work with.
The key here is that when we are out of the office we want to have the same experience as when we are in the office. It’s what we expect. The trouble is that in the office we have a rich browser experience, which shows us all the data in our SharePoint environments. The key words here are “shows us” because it still only fetches the file if we click on it. Cue OneDrive for Business but without the roll of drums, I’m afraid.
There is no user interface, just every single file in a SharePoint Team Site copied to your laptop whether you want it or not. It’s all or nothing. Sure, your OneDrive for Business store (that’s the space online, not the sync tool) can be synced at the folder level but since OneDrive for Business doesn’t have an interface (that’s the sync tool not the space this time) you can’t see what you haven’t synced. It’s as if it didn’t exist.
Oh and P.S; Don’t even think about deleting those offline files, as you’ll delete them from SharePoint… which’ll be a nice surprise when you get into the office the following morning.
Easier 365’s purpose: Digilink’s solution, Easier 365, has a user interface (we’ve spoken before about the value of a great UI). You can see the whole SharePoint site and you can sync just what you want; a file, a folder or everything. You can even switch off the sync against one file if you like. That means if you didn’t want to sync your half-thought-out plan…you don’t have to. As for deletions. You guessed it: you can remove them from your offline client with no consequence on SharePoint, should that be your wish. Meaning no nasty surprises!
Access to SharePoint views offline
As we’ve mentioned, the SharePoint interface is a rich and powerful interface. It’s what separates SharePoint from other alternatives such as Dropbox, as a corporate document management tool. One such example is SharePoint Views. One of SharePoint’s most useful list features, users rely on views to see items in a library or list that are most important to them.
Once chosen, with one pulldown selection you can display just the data that refers to what you’re doing: ‘All the contracts for Smith & Co.’ ‘What assets do we have in London?’ ‘Key managers on Projects in Lisbon’. All this information is driven by file properties (metadata).
Now metadata is kind of funny stuff. Practically speaking, 99% of the time you will never ever think about it; BUT, when you do, you soon realise how much it contributes to your daily use of your platform. Essentially, the metadata drives those views you see, and you can’t do the views without the metadata. It’s a complimentary circle that can work perfectly. But what happens when you leave the office? Does OneDrive for Business display metadata offline? Or indeed, can it support Views? In a word, No.
Easier 365’s purpose: Digilink’s solution allows you to access your SharePoint Views even offline. Through the Interface you can select Views, change metadata and even use SharePoint Content Types. All from a metadata supporting interface.