Enterprise File Sync & Share Should Just Go Away

Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/125799907@N07/15386549097Gartner released their 2nd annual Enterprise File Sync & Share Magic Quadrant (EFSS MQ) recently (2015-07-22). Coincidentally, this is my 2nd annual post taking issue with it.

It’s not that I’m denying the existence of vendors that provide EFSS capabilities, I just don’t think that they deserve a market all their own. EFSS as a unique market is pretty much next to useless. Without being an extension of other markets or software categories WE. DON’T. NEED. IT. And don’t even get me started about the definition of what the market actually is. I read Gartner’s description and, if it were describing an animal, it would be a hippo-leprechaun-smurf-wombat-grouper-shark-budgie-chipmunk looking thing with a unicorn horn for a willy. Or maybe a light sabre – I dunno.

File synchronization and sharing capabilities are required for doing business today. Whether you get them from a so called EFFS vendor, an ECM vendor, or a collaboration vendor makes no difference. Hell, maybe your use cases and environment mean you’ll need all three. What matters is that you’ve got a bunch of information that you need to get to a bunch of people that may or may not have yourorg.com email addresses. What matters is that all this information needs to be governed, managed, secured, and integrated into work processes. EFSS tools that don’t do any of these things are plug-ins to other stuff (nothing wrong with that). EFSS capabilities that are found in other stuff are, well, functions in other stuff (nothing wrong with that either).

I hope by this time next year there won’t by an EFSS MQ, Wave (a Forrester eval thing), or any other thing defining EFSS as a unique market. I hope, instead, that we’ll start seeing EFSS capabilities as must-haves in other markets, like, I dunno, ECM for instance. And instead of just sitting around hoping, I’ve done something about it.

Check out The Next Generation of ECM, a Box sponsored whitepaper (no pitch, no registration). It lays out my thoughts about the coming changes – driven by EFSS – in the ECM market.

If you want to get your very own copy of Gartner’s 2015 MQ for EFSS you can head over to this post on Box’s blog and click away.

22 Comments on “Enterprise File Sync & Share Should Just Go Away

  1. So far, I see EFSS being used (not justified) more for sharing files across multiple devices by the same person. That’s about 99% of my use of Box.


    • Not sure about the actual percentages, but that’s been what most people / orgs I’ve spoken to have been saying. Recently, though, more are using it for sharing / collab with others, inside and outside the firewall. That just kind of underscores my point, though – the whole EFSS thing is really tied to other markets, it makes no sense on its own.

      Happily, I’m seeing slow process in the “sophistication” of how people and orgs are using Box, Dropbox, OneDrive, etc.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Firstly, amen. I think you could argue that there’s a market for small office/personal file sharing, but the ‘enterprise’ angle on this EFSS is marketing bullshit and an attempt at squeezing revenue from ECM vendors in a different way.

    Secondly, it’d have to be a unicorn willy — a light saber dangling every which way down there just isn’t logical.


  3. Enjoyed the white paper. I have been using and evaluating the paid versions of Google, Box, Evernote, and Dropbox for over a year and watching the incumbents flail helplessly (favorite lines from one of them: “checkout is the new synch” and “…synchronization is HARD…”). This is a classic case of the innovator’s dilemma, with a whole new population of users getting access due to a fundamental technology shift, which will eventually displace the old vendors. Those old ECM vendors did exactly what they had to do – control 10% of the organization’s unstructured information at great cost and expense. This is the beginning of the end for them.


  4. By the way, it is absolutely not true that “all this information needs to be governed, managed, secured, and integrated into work processes” – a little does, most doesn’t.


    • Hi Bo

      I probably should have worded that a little better. You’re right that only a small percentage actually is of real value, discounting the whole big data thing. What I really was getting at is that it all needs to be governed and managed, even if it means getting rid of most of it so that it doesn’t clutter up work processes. I.e.: get what’s needed to where it’s needed, get rid of the rest as long as you’re not running afoul of laws and stuff.

      Make sense?



      • Works for me. GG is in a bind here, because there are so many new companies and customers. Dropbox is worth more than OpenText by their last round of fundraising!


  5. To whomever rated this post “very poor”

    Thanks. Care to leave a comment telling my why? Would love to know your thoughts and, maybe, improve the blog.



  6. Chris – agree with the sentiment on EFSS as a proxy market: it reflects a number of quite different cries for help from many different groups of buyers/users. Just because two firms buy Box, doesn’t mean they have the same need. Who actually writes “EFSS” on their purchase order? It also helps explain why (imho), few of the vendors Gartner featured like the “EFSS” moniker. It’s a holding position til we all figure out whether ECM fragments into on-prem 1st or cloud 1st, or whether there really is a completely new kind of buyer out there.


  7. Collaboration does need to go outside the “box” :). DocuCollab is a new technology that is making a sincere attempt to enable document collaboration for enterprise, that goes way beyond file sharing. They just released their free public beta.



    • Would love to learn more. Unfortunately, the link doesn’t give me much other than the option to login with Facebook, Google+, Linkedin, or Salesforce. Not gonna do any of that for something I know nothing about.

      What’s your interest / stake in Docucollab?


      • Chris, I am one of a co-founder there. The software is in Beta release and yes, we are working on the informational website as we speak.

        For a brief “see this in action” please refer to this 2 minute youtube clip.

        If you find this intriguing, please do login and try it out for yourself. I look forward to your feedback,



        • I’m going to be blunt … It’s not something that interests me for a bunch of reasons, but the two most critical are: 1) you’re going into a hugely (over) crowded space, and; 2) I have no interest in working with a tool that necessitates a proprietary format / editor.

          To be honest, I don’t see this getting much traction. Sorry.


  8. File synchronization and sharing capabilities are required for doing business today. Whether you get them from a so called EFFS vendor, an ECM vendor, or a collaboration vendor makes no difference.


  9. Forrester just released it’s The Forrester Wave™: ECM Business Content Services, Q3 2015 which includes vendors such as Box & Syncplicity

    The Business Content Services part (opposed to Transactional Content Services) includes capabilities such as document sharing, collaboration & usability.


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