In 1973, the advent of the Local Area Network (LAN) was introduced.  This new technology-enabled businesses to connect their computers, share and distribute applications, and most importantly, provide a common disk storage area for all LAN users to store, access and manage files among, and between themselves. 

Four decades later, new technology has emerged for the storage, access, and management of files.  With this new technology, we have new tools for File Management.  Like any new technology innovation, and the availability of new tools, businesses have an opportunity to exploit new ideas and new behaviors to obtain a new and more effective operational paradigm. In addition to the technology and tool shift to this new paradigm, business owners and IT administrators have a significant Culture shift required to fully leverage the new technology and tools. 

If you are interested in fully leveraging this new technology, you need to read this article and prepare yourself for both the technology shift and the culture shift

“Old School” 

Over the four decades following the advent of the LAN, businesses invested heavily into designing the “perfect” file organization schemas for their “Network” files.   These file organization schemas were then regulated and controlled by IT enforced policies and access control methods that were available from the prevailing technology of the file storage systems. 

The common denominator among these file organization schemas and applied permission and access policies was that their perfection began to atrophy from the moment that they were implemented and many companies found themselves referring to their file storage solutions as “being a mess”. 

Another common denominator was the influence and involvement of our IT Administrators.  The more complex the File Organization Schema, the more complex became the technical policies required to effectively manage or control the various access and permission scenarios imagined or required within the File Organization Schema.  With this complexity came overhead.  IT Administrator overhead increased in both time and skill requirements.  End-user education and support overhead increased as users encountered confusion about where files should be stored or permission/access issues.  As business environments changed, the complexity or even the viability of the File Organization Schema had to change to be current and each of those changes increased the overhead costs of the File Organization and Storage Solution. 

In the “Old School” paradigm where businesses established a pre-planned File Organization design, the design itself set-up the business, and its employees to fail.  It also created an environment where the true value proposition of employees was their understanding and compliance with the File Organization Design.  Employees who understood the File Organization Schema could effectively and efficiently navigate the File Organization structure to discover and manage company files.  Employees who did not understand the schema became the prime contributors to the erosion of the design, were ineffective in the discovery of files, and introduced overhead through the misplacement of files.  These inefficiencies were compounded by the poor performance of the file discovery tools available within the File Storage Solution itself. 

The result of the “Old School” paradigm was that we established a culture of most-restrictive, IT Policy governed and controlled File Management where the decisions of File Organization, Permissions, and Discovery were established and enforced by people other than the actual people who relied on the files themselves.  

“New School” 

The “New School” culture is going to scare the daylights out of your IT Administrators.  It may also frighten the business operators who are inclined to not relinquish operational control to the very employees they depend on each day for the success of their operations. 

The “New School” culture also demands that business owners and operators recognize that not all files are to be treated equally.  Some files demand more restrictive controls while the majority of files need only be restricted to accessibility within the company. 

The “New School” culture is remarkably simple to define.  The new culture is one where File Organization and File Management is completely in the hands of the employees who Own the responsibility of the files.  The design of the file organization schema is established and maintained by the file owners.  The scope of restriction of access is in the hands of the file owners.   

This new culture is possible due to the new Cloud-based file storage and retrieval technology and the tools available to manage and organize files.  More specifically, the Microsoft 365 Cloud platform.  This platform provides companies of any size the technological environment and tools that will allow your employee groups and their leaders to take full command of the files that they use to complete their jobs. 

By leveraging the new tools offered through the Microsoft 365 Cloud Platform such as SharePoint, OneDrive and Microsoft Teams, you can confidently turn over the responsibility of File Management to your department leaders and their employees and ensure that the security, accessibility, and searchability of your files is in a much better place than you have ever experienced in the past. 

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