As the market for 'sync & share for business' hots up, today sees the launch of a new product targeting this highly competitive and fast-growing area. Intralinks VIA is the new hosted solution from established secure document sharing and collaboration vendor Intralinks, and is designed to capitalise on business users’ need for an easy-to-use document sharing solution while meeting the security and manageability demands of corporate IT.
It’s a logical next step for Intralinks, which has for the last 16 years provided hosted solutions to support specific secure document sharing scenarios, such as deal rooms for mergers and acquisitions (Intralinks Dealspace), and loan syndication platforms (Intralinks Debtspace). Sophisticated digital rights management (DRM), encryption and security has been at the heart of its offerings, giving the company a strong if narrow foothold in industries such as life sciences, financial services and legal. However in the last couple of years the company has been trying to figure out how to expand this footprint, supporting the broader enterprise collaboration needs of its customers, as well as growing its own business opportunity too. The result is Intralinks VIA, which has already been the focus of a significant amount of investment by the company, involving major restructuring of the sales organisation as well as a full corporate rebranding in addition to the product development itself.
The VIA offering brings a new, more intuitive and end-user-focused user experience which aims to meet the needs of every individual across a business to support document sharing and collaboration with people both inside and outside the organisation, while leveraging Intralinks’ core platform along with all its secure capabilities. Differentiating oneself in this market is challenging, but Intralinks’ ability to let users 'unshare' information—by revoking access to documents, even when they have been downloaded—is an interesting feature which will undoubtedly get the attention of organisations struggling to keep a hold on their IP.
The product itself is still very new—it has been in beta since January—and perhaps not surprisingly there are some functional areas that are still missing at the moment, including mobile support, social collaboration capabilities and even simple task management. But the company is being very open about its strategy and roadmap for the product, and it would seem that investment is continuing apace with many of the most significant gaps starting to close as we progress through 2013.
It is still too early to tell whether Intralinks will succeed in its plans to capture a significant share of this market; certainly it has a lot to do to build its profile alongside more established brands such as Box and Huddle. While the market opportunity is only just emerging, I can’t help thinking that this is something of a new wave of what we used to refer to as “team workspace” vendors—an area that has now pretty much been absorbed into the social collaboration space. In the short term these point solutions are new and exciting, but in the longer term, I think organisations are still going to want to bring together these technologies with their social collaboration (and possibly their enterprise content management) strategies. The question is whether this can happen without over-complicating the user experience to the point where business users again start casting around for an alternative.
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