OneDrive and OneDrive for Business have grown into fundamental collaborative drivers for end users and organizations alike. As the standard for file storage and sharing amongst Microsoft business customers, the platforms have created a niche story for themselves inside the Microsoft ecosystem.
Each month, a collaborative discussion takes place on Twitter where a panel of SharePoint and Office 365 experts converge to share their thoughts, 140 characters at a time. Known as #CollabTalk tweetjams, the November 30, 2015, event focused on the topic of OneDrive for Business and where it fits within Microsoft’s modern content collaboration vision. Hosted by Office 365 MVP Christian Buckley, the always-insightful conversation included more than 30 experts from around the world batting around this complex and hot topic. You can view Christian’s organized highlights of this OneDrive-focused #Collabtalk tweetjam here.
OneDrive for Business, formerly Microsoft SharePoint Workspace, provides document collaboration between teams, allowing users to upload, create, edit and share Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote documents directly within a web browser. Microsoft’s collaboration story began when Microsoft introduced SharePoint Server in 2003, causing users to first understand the intricacies of working together through a collaborative environment. Fast-forward 12 years and many product iterations later, there are many choices and platforms on which we can collaborate. Within the Microsoft ecosystem alone, users can backup, store, collaborate and share information from OneDrive, OneDrive for Business, SharePoint and many others, leaving confusion and questions amongst businesses and users.
With OneDrive as the first product in-market for users (now dating back to 2007 and the name SkyDrive), Microsoft thereafter released OneDrive for Business, an offering that worked similarly, but one which synchronizes Office 365 and SharePoint content specifically. The first question that Christian posed in the tweetjam was about the specific importance OneDrive has within the Microsoft collaboration story. The answers were overwhelmingly positive that OneDrive for Business is, in fact, of vital strategic significance to the collaboration story. Dan Holme, co-founder & CEO of IT Unity stated, “From a customer’s perspective, the OneDrive experience makes or breaks perception of Office 365 viability.” Several participants echoed Dan’s point. Others highlighted the fact that user confusion amongst OneDrive (personal), OneDrive for Business and Team Sites can lead to issues with deployment and adoption.
User success with OneDrive and OneDrive for Business is critical to any collaborative conversation for Microsoft’s enterprise customers; one that must begin with a strategy that takes into account the needs and demands of employees and businesses alike. As technologies have advanced, so to have the expectations around collaboration. Companies expect collaboration to connect employees together through a unified platform that they find easily consumable, adoptable and meaningful. Many customers using OneDrive for Business rely on the synchronization capabilities between it and SharePoint Online, or Office 365 depending on the product being used. Unfortunately, the synchronization capabilities have been fraught with issues since its release, resulting in numerous issues and problems on a platform that has not been as consumable as Microsoft would like. Microsoft SharePoint Senior Product Manager Mark Kashman, also a frequent contributor to #CollabTalk tweetjams, stated during the tweetjam that Microsoft is aware of the concerns and that the synchronization issues have been overhauled with a focus on execution and user confidence in the SharePoint 2016 Preview, which is in beta 2. Customers can also sign up for a OneDrive for Business preview, which has an improved syncing capability.
The #Collabtalk also addressed Microsoft’s recent storage changes to OneDrive, essentially amounting to the removal of unlimited storage for some OneDrive customers and reinstated previous caps on how much storage customers can have. Regarding these reinstated OneDrive caps, Christian asked whether panelists had seen pushback at the organizational level. Most panelists indicated they had not seen any issues or concerns with their clients. Office 365 MVP and self-professed SharePoint “Geek” at Sharegate, Benjamin Niaulin, noted that the cap changes were only made to OneDrive, and not OneDrive for Business. Fellow Office 365 MVP Darrell Webster pointed out that “OneDrive should be used for personal work or collaborating with one or two people,” otherwise, sharing becomes an issue at many levels. #Collabtalk panelists agreed that few companies have had to make a significant change to their OneDrive strategies in light of Microsoft’s change.
Fundamentally, there is a considerable difference between SharePoint, OneDrive and OneDrive for Business. Several #Collabtalk panelists suggested that the differences between these products should be better defined for users and organizations. In my experience, SharePoint is a platform that allows organizations to collaborate and communicate effectively across the organization. OneDrive and OneDrive for Business each have their specific uses as well. Organizations should think of OneDrive for Business not as an enterprise platform but as a backup and storage facility for documents and primarily used when a user is offline. While OneDrive for Business does allow people to collaborate to a degree, it does not include the collaborative toolsets that SharePoint provides. Additionally, companies cannot customize the OneDrive experience for individuals or organizations; OneDrive is a templated platform that must be used the same way throughout the organization. To that end, organizations should always be concerned with adoption rates; users who can better understand the usage and necessity for a product are far more likely to quickly adopt it. The corresponding statement was made that OneDrive is a “me” product, while OneDrive for Business is an “us” product, meaning that OneDrive should ideally be used by the individual, while OneDrive for Business should be used at the business level.
In question six of the tweetjam, Christian posed the question, “Have your content collaboration requirements shifted from SharePoint to OneDrive?” While many panelists stated that the creation of requirements has shifted slightly with a focus towards OneDrive for Business, the majority felt that organizations must look at this as a content question and not a platform question. Ownership of content is the primary factor in this equation. Stacy Deere-Strole highlighted this when she stated that these considerations are “client specific, one site (or product) does not fit all.”
Ultimately, organizations must rely on their strategy when understanding their content, and how that content will be consumed and communicated each day. Remembering that OneDrive is for “me” and OneDrive for Business is for “we” may be the key message in this episode of #CollabTalk.