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For a long time, San Francisco-based Dropbox was largely associated with consumer file sharing and storage. A lot like Box really. In recent years, however, it has built itself up to offer some serious enterprise offerings.

At this week’s Work in Progress user conference, Dropbox took another step in that direction with the launch of Dropbox Spaces, which the company describes as the “evolution of the shared folder into a collaborative workspace.”

According to Dropbox, Spaces transforms folders into collaborative workspaces that bring your team's content to life. Built with machine intelligence it helps workers stay focused on their most important work, and offers them new ways stay in sync with teams. Spaces is accessible via the new Dropbox desktop experience,, and the Dropbox mobile app.

Speaking at the conference, Drew Houston, CEO of Dropbox said of the release: “We’re building the smart workspace because we need technology that helps us quiet the noise, rather than contributing to it. This starts with the launch of Dropbox Spaces, which brings together your most important content and tools into one organized place, so you can stay focused and in sync with your team.”

The company also announced that its new desktop app—previously available in early access—is now generally available and rolling out.

Dropbox Spaces brings cloud content and local files together. With Spaces, you have new ways to access everything you need from one central place. The new capabilities include:

  • Image search: Save time getting to the images you need by searching for what you see in the image across JPG, JPEG, PNG, and GIF files.
  • Preview: Preview files in high fidelity: including AutoCAD files—from your desktop even if you don't have the native application installed.
  • Paper Integration: It also offers paper integration in the Dropbox file system, which makes it possible to create, store, and access Paper docs from Dropbox.

There is more on the way too. Dropbox binder will enable users  compile all of their Dropbox files, including images, PDF's, cloud docs, and more into a single Dropbox Binder, so you can share the published versions with the team although it’s not clear when this will be released.

The company said it will  also be adding new capabilities in the months ahead including new features, like Dropbox Transfer — a new way to quickly and securely send large files with password expiration and viewer info.

Driving all this is the belief that the digital workplace has become very complicated. Work has become too complicated, Dropbox pointed out in blog post. When you spend your days bouncing between chat threads, status updates, and multiple file types, keeping track of all the details can feel like a second job.

For companies that are using Dropbox already this will be a major addition to their digital workplace. However for those companies that are already signed up to the likes of G Suite and Office 365, much of what is being offered here is already available. That said this does put Dropbox firmly in the enterprise collaboration space. How it evolves over the coming months remains to be seen.

Social and Collaboration Market Exploding

Given the figures that  Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner has just published in relation to growth in the social software and collaboration market, it is hardly surprising that companies like Dropbox are pushing for a bigger piece of the pie.

According to the Forecast Analysis: Social Software and Collaboration in the Workplace, Worldwide (registration required) research, the worldwide market for social software and collaboration in the workplace is expected to grow from an estimated $2.7 billion in 2018 to $4.8 billion by 2023, nearly doubling in size.

The figures were based on the Gartner Digital Worker Survey which surveyed 7,261 respondents in the US, Europe and APAC from March through April 2019 in companies of 100 or more people who used social software.

The research also found that the collaboration market is the most fragmented and contextually focused it has ever been, making the barrier to entry extremely low.

“By 2023, we expect nearly 60% of enterprise application software providers will have included some form of social software and collaboration functionalities in their software product portfolios,” Craig Roth, research vice president at Gartner said in a statement.

The use of collaboration software in the modern workplace is connected to growing amounts of routine work. It is increasing penetration in the existing user base and growth from emerging regions, such as China, in the number of potential users and buyers.

The collaboration market, the report says, has always been very tool-driven and is continuing down that path. Slack is the vendor most often associated with the workstream collaboration market.

However, Microsoft and Google have entered the market and bundled their workstream collaboration offerings in cloud office suites that are deployed by vast numbers of global organizations to address general productivity needs.

Buying decisions are becoming driven by categories within the social software market that reflect specific business needs. This shift has the potential to create a dominant player in each submarket or draw new entrants into the space.

Zoho Integrates More Digital Workplace Apps

And while all this was happening, Zoho recently announced that it has made Zoho One  better. Remember Zoho One, Zoho’s operating system for businesses? Zoho One was released two years ago, and integrated the company’s 36 apps as well as 40 mobile apps for Android and iOS in one central system, accessible through single sign-on.

More to the point, it cost a mere $30/user/month. And now, it has a new business workflow management application, Orchestly, that lets users create, manage, and optimize their business processes through a drag-and-drop interface. Zoho has also added three new services and one new application tying together every corner of business operations, and several updates.

Using Orchestly, managers and administrators can automate and run their regular workflows, including cross-departmental workflows such as purchase approvals, content publishing, asset management, and onboarding.

While this in itself is going to be a major advantage for companies what is even more interesting is the figures the company release about app use. According to the company, approximately 25 percent of Zoho One customers use more than 25 applications on the platform and more than 50 percent utilize beyond 16 applications.

 “The momentum is a product of a major shift in customer expectation and rejection of complexity in favor of easy-to-use, all-in-one platforms that deliver immense value,” the company said in a statement. Other upgrades include integration with PhoneBridge, Zoho’s telephone platform, single sign-n that allows for integration of around 50 third-party applications.

There’s a lot more here that is worth looking but if you are looking at an entirely integrated digital workplace at a good price this is it.

What Ivanti Discovered About Offboarding

In other research, Salt Lake City-based Ivanti, which develops software to secure the digital workplace has released search results that find significant gaps in the compliant management of employee resources throughout the employment lifecycle.

According to the research, only 15%  of employees have all the resources they require to be productive on day one, further, more than half (52%) of IT professionals know someone who still has access to a former employer’s applications and data.

 When it comes to employee onboarding, 38% of IT professionals report it takes between two and four days to get a new employee everything they need to do their job, while 27% say accomplishing this goal can take more than a week.

All this is quite positive. It  also shows that it takes a while to fully onboard employees, which is a finding that is not entirely unexpected. However, the security aspects of this process should be of some concern.

The research shows that as employees change roles in the organization, just over half (55%) of respondents are confident that unnecessary access rights have been removed to reflect their role changes.

These changes are still largely made through manual processes, with 54% doing it all manually, 37% using a combination of some automation and manual processes, and only 9% leveraging full automation.

Offboarding employees is even worse.  Just over one-in-four (26%) respondents said it can take more than a week to fully deprovision an employee. The survey found that employees that aren’t properly deprovisioned, present:

  •    A significant risk of the leakage of sensitive data (38%)
  •   Present a significant risk of a cybersecurity hack through an unmanaged account (26%)
  •  Create a significant malicious data detection/theft risk (24%)

The survey polled more than 400 IT professionals online. Research was generated by Ivanti in the summer of 2019.  You can see the full results here

Qumulo Announces Enterprise File Storage Feature

Finally this week, Seattle-based Qumulo, which builds hybrid cloud file storage systems, has announced software advancements that enable enterprises to integrate modern file storage while  complying with organizational security and access standards already in place.

Qumulo’s software is designed from the ground up to help enterprises unlock the value of file data that is often spread across multiple data centers and in the cloud.

The distributed file system gives users instant visibility to large, unstructured data sets and scale-across on-premises and the cloud.

Through the last quarter, Qumulo’s agile development process introduced a number of new additions to the software to improve enterprise security as well as better visibility into capacity usage and trends for snapshots, metadata, and data independently.