Government Cloud A New Era In Collaboration

Security misperceptions give way as tools get traction

The demand for online collaboration tools—and for a broader set of tools from which to choose—clearly is on the rise, as agencies begin to set aside common misperceptions about security and other concerns.

That is not to say that security is no longer a concern. A recent survey by the 1105 Public Sector Media Group found that slightly more than 40 percent of respondents said that their agencies were concerned with security risks of online collaboration. Just less than 30 percent also cited cost as a concern.

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But in contrast, 74 percent of respondents agreed that agencies that are unable to implement and use collaboration tools and processes more effectively will find it more difficult to meet their missions.

Security will always be a focus for government organizations, according to Nick Fisher, product marketing manager for Huddle. There always will be some agencies that require on-premise tools and that have built robust, secure infrastructures to enable that.

But the worry over the security of online collaboration has more to do with the general view of cloud-based technologies than with the tools themselves, Fisher said.

There is a perception that the security of cloud services is inherently poorer than that of a traditional environment. In fact, the opposite is often true, he said.

“The reality is that, if someone is trying to penetrate a database and steal data, it’s much easier for them to tackle your personal database and server set than a cloud server farm that’s been optimized for security and already hosts a lot of secure files,” Fisher said.

Likewise, he said, concerns over costs are also misplaced. If you invest in SharePoint licenses now, for example, you are overpaying since the typical adoption of the tools in an enterprise is around 10 percent. The “cost matrix” should also include the softer costs associated with the lack of productivity that comes with not adopting collaboration tools, especially the agility that comes with people being able to work with each other on the go as mobile technologies proliferate.

That also speaks to worries of some survey respondents about how to demonstrate the value of collaboration tools to agency or department management, as well as the relevant ROI on the investment in tools.

Most concerns cited in the survey were less focused on the tools themselves and more on how agencies are deploying those tools. One is the lack of IT and infrastructure support. Another is the need for better internal processes and workflows to adapt to foster collaboration overall and allow it to mature and prosper.

More work also needs to be done on policies. For example, only 21 percent of respondents said their agencies had sufficient polices defining the outcomes of collaboration, and only 15 percent said their agencies fully documented their collaboration agreements.

Methodology and survey demographics

Between June 25th and June 26th , 2014, 159 subscribers of FCW, GCN and other Public Sector Media Group publications responded to an e-mail survey about collaboration trends in government agencies. Survey respondents were comprised of those involved with managing, use or purchase of online collaboration tools for their department or agency. Beacon Technology Partners developed the methodology, fielded the survey and compiled the results.

Approximately 55% of respondents were technology decision-makers (CIOs or other IT managers or professionals), while 45 percent were senior managers, program managers or other business decision-makers. Approximately 63 percent came from the federal government (31 percent civilian, 32 percent defense) and 37 percent from state or local government agencies.

About this Report

This report was commissioned by the Content Solutions unit, an independent editorial arm of 1105 Public Sector Media Group. Specific topics are chosen in response to interest from the vendor community; however, sponsors are not guaranteed content contribution or review of content before publication. For more information about 1105 Public Sector Media Group Content Solutions, please email us at PSMGCustomMedia@1105media.com