Enabling easy access to documents is key to stopping the reliance on removable storage devices, says M-Files

Recently, IBM announced that it is banning its employees globally from using USB sticks and removable storage devices of all types due to security risks. However, according to intelligent information management expert, M-Files, dependency amongst staff towards removable devices is likely to stem from persistent document management challenges notably towards flexible and remote working.

Employees opt to use external storage devices as searching for information across a company network can often be a trying exercise. Evidence to support this comes from research conducted by M-Files which revealed that from a sample of 250 IT decision-makers, 90 per cent revealed it to be somewhat challenging when searching and accessing documents while working remotely.

Addressing this, Tim Waterton, Director of UK Businesses says that in the wake of GDPR and as companies tighten up their control of information management, we could see other firms follow the example set by IBM and ban external storage devices. If this does happen organisations need to have an alternative method for accessing information in place that supports flexible and remote working, is easy to use, but doesn't compromise on security.

Waterton says: "The move taken by IBM to ban external storage devices, while a bold one, is actually indictative of wider issues surrounding how employees access information assets when on the move. Security risks when using these devices are widely known – data breaches, document duplication and data losses, are just some examples, but the fact that employees continue to use these devices is a clear indication of the lack of trust which exists towards existing information management systems.

"Companies need to focus heavily on providing the right tools to make flexible and remote working straightforward for everyone, but our own research – 90 per cent of UK IT decisions stating it's challenging to find and access information outside of the office – demonstrates the struggles which continue to exist. With GDPR now officially here companies are going to be under even greater pressure to get this right. Because of this organisations should consider how an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solution could be used to make the management of information much more efficient."

Waterton continues: "Metadata-driven information management solutions allow organisations to simplify how staff access, secure, process and collaborate on documents, across any device and regardless of where that information is stored. Because of this persistent challenges surrounding remote or flexible working, such as needing to be connected to a company network or VPN to access or change documents while offline, are instantly removed."

Waterton stresses that an effective ECM system can also improve your organisational security: "A competent ECM solution is critical for the IT department in regaining visability and control over where organisation information stored and how it is used. If this is delivered effectively, employees are much less likely to turn to a USB device and other external storage devices, therefore significantly reducing the risk of data breaches."

Waterton concludes: "In the face of tightening regulations and greater accountability needed towards information management, organisations need to think more strategically about how ECM solutions can be leveraged to make the management of information much more efficient. IBM is unlikely to be the last organisation to implement a ban on external storage devices, so it's important that those who follow suit have in place the necessary tools that enable staff to work as efficiently as possible."

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