At IDC Manufacturing Insights, we see social business as one of the four technology pillars driving manufacturers to reach new levels of productivity, efficiency, and effectiveness on the 3rd Platform. And, while manufacturers have been slower to adopt social business tools as compared with big data, cloud, and mobile, they are using social to assist some business processes. Traditionally, this has been more along the lines of collaboration tools such as Microsoft SharePoint or email. An opportunity exists for manufacturers to add social collaboration tools that facilitate the secure sharing of documents.
One of the biggest risks when sharing content as part of the collaboration process is protecting the shared document from being viewed by, printed by, or forwarded to an undesirable recipient. Once the file is sent, often as a simple email attachment, IT has no control over who may eventually see or print it. This is a great source of consternation for companies that want to prevent intellectual property leaks or other potential hazards of having confidential information shared in a seemingly innocuous way, via email.
Intralinks VIA is aiming to fix this challenge with the notion of "unsharing." With the recently released Intralinks VIA, manufacturers are able to securely share files with colleagues and business partners. Intralinks VIA provides users with lifetime control over documents - including the ability to remove permissions to access content at any point during the collaborative lifecycle. In addition, users have the capability to establish Document Rights that define how their content is used even after it has been shared.
While this all sounds like the antithesis of what we all learned as children (share!), it highlights an important aspect of collaboration. Security needs to be central to any social or collaboration discussion, and there is always an inherent challenge in finding the right balance in information sharing that doesn't restrict free-flowing collaboration, which is the central value proposition of social business. Intralinks VIA is aiming to support collaboration with protection, giving business users the freedom to work outside the firewall, assured that their confidential content will remain so. It all starts with a document - and often collaboration naturally builds off of that. Intralinks VIA also supports this collaborative social work stream, allowing users to share files, and then initiate and perpetuate conversations and interactions around those files. The product supports discussion threads, activity streams, and other common social tools, all using the file as the organizing principal.
Intralinks has a number of manufacturing customers using Intralinks VIA, including Vodafone McLaren Mercedes and Midland Metals. Most manufacturing customers, such as The Stanley Works, are using the company for more traditional corporate development, repositories and structured collaboration. We expect Intralinks VIA to provide new opportunities for Intralinks to expand its manufacturing customer base, as the technology plays a useful role in areas like supply chain, procurement, and innovation management. Protection of intellectual property is a key concern for manufacturing, and a social collaboration tool such as IntraLinks VIA can support innovation in a secure and compliant manner.