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Photograph courtesy of Josh Flavell

Ranked one of the top 100 universities in the world, the University of Sydney is home to some of the brightest minds in multi-disciplinary research. Together, they’re working to solve some of the world’s most challenging problems. Here’s how they use Dropbox to make collaboration seamless and secure.

Solving the world’s most complex problems

The University of Sydney takes a big picture approach to research. First, they look at a problem from all angles. Then, they combine the expertise and talents of scholars from many disciplines. That means creative problem solving doesn’t happen in isolation. A surgeon can collaborate with an engineer to build augmented reality technology that enables the surgeon to see a tumor during an operation. Or an archaeologist can collaborate with a medical imaging specialist to see inside ancient Egyptian urns in great detail—without disturbing the contents.

In the words of Mike Day, Chief Information Officer at the University of Sydney, “The days where being creative is limited to an arts faculty are long gone.”

Photograph courtesy of Josh Flavell Photograph courtesy of Josh Flavell

“The ideas that really matter require a multi-disciplinary approach.”—Dr Jeremy Hammond, Director Strategic Ventures, University of Sydney

Photograph courtesy of Josh Flavell Collaborating on world-class research

Before the University rolled out Dropbox Business, it faced an ongoing challenge to reduce the fragmentation of data storage platforms. Though there was an existing file-sharing solution in place, there was poor uptake by University staff—particularly within its research teams. So researchers used the free version of Dropbox, which was fast becoming the de facto standard research collaboration and file-sharing tool at the University. This under-the-radar use of free Dropbox accounts meant there was a lack of governance and oversight of research data—and that represented a risk for the University.

After conducting extensive competitor and risk analysis, and consulting with the research community, the University decided to roll out Dropbox Business to its entire population of researchers, academics, staff, and students. The roll-out was a win for both researchers and data stewards, who now have greater visibility and control of their research data.

How USYD researchers use Dropbox for seamless, secure collaboration - YouTube

“The choice [to switch to Dropbox Enterprise] was easy because Dropbox was already the tool of choice among many of our academics and students,” Mike Day, CIO, University of Sydney

Photograph courtesy of Josh Flavell Photograph courtesy of Josh Flavell Adopting a best-in-class collaboration platform

Where do you even begin to secure and scale collaboration in an organization that has an IT set-up with 100,000 people operating behind its firewall? To put that into perspective, that’s about the same size and scale as a reasonably sized Australian city. The University needed a widely supported, user-friendly platform to support collaboration among staff and students—as well as external parties around the world. So they turned to Dropbox.

Photograph courtesy of Josh Flavell

“One of the things that providing tools like Dropbox really help us with is to make sure that we’re keeping the data that our academics need safe.”—Mike Day, CIO, University of Sydney

“Collaboration is vital to our success as a university. Technology and digital innovation are key to the unique learning experience offered at the University of Sydney. As our staff undertake multidisciplinary research, they increasingly need to coordinate with different areas of the University. Dropbox fast-tracks this process.”

The University of Sydney is one of over 6,000 educational institutions worldwide using Dropbox to become more connected and collaborative. To learn how, download our Collaboration eBook.

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Today’s workplace is in constant state of flux. As technology and company cultures evolve, so do the expectations placed on IT decision makers (ITDMs). They’re responsible for finding and implementing cutting-edge technology, keeping company data secure and employee workflows unobstructed. So, who better to give us the pulse of the workplace than ITDMs?

Dropbox Business partnered with CITE research to conduct an independent study of 1,000 IT decision makers. The Landscape of IT Decision Makers Study was commissioned to gain meaningful insights around current workplace trends. Here are some key takeaways around security and the mobile workforce:

  • Security remains a top priority for ITDMs
    73% of ITDMs have experienced security issues, with data loss as the most commonly reported issue. Antivirus software is the predominant way (66%) ITDMs protect company files.
  • ITDMs are (somewhat) confident about the state of security
    The majority of ITDMs feel like their organization is prepared to recover data (81%), respond to a breach (79%), block threats (76%), and protect data (74%). Yet, 69% say they could benefit from stronger security measures.

  • The mobile workforce is on the rise
    According to our study, almost half of ITDMs say that 25% or less of their employees work remotely the majority of the time. Over 60% believe this number will increase over the next year.
  • BYOD (Bring your own device) powers the mobile workforce
    59% of organizations allow for employees to use their own phones to access privileged information, while 51% allow personal laptops to do so. More than half of ITDMs notice a 56% increase in employee satisfaction due to BYOD policies.

Download the full report, The Landscape of IT Decision Makers Study, for these and additional insights. Learn more about how ITDMs are feeling about the mobile workforce, the state of security, as well as their sentiments on researching new technology and the future of cloud adoption.

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Sometimes, looking at a problem from both an analytical and intuitive point of view helps you find a solution. Other times, it leads to an impasse. If you’ve ever worked on a team that included both designers and engineers, you already know they have fundamentally different ways of working. That can be a challenge when you’re in charge of coordinating a project. So how do you keep the working relationship complementary and conflict free? Here are 10 ways to make the process easier.

1. Step out of your silos

When your teams work in separate locations—whether that’s within one office or across a continent—it’s easy to stumble into misunderstandings. Instead of making assumptions about how another team works or what they need and when, make a point of having a face-to-face kickoff in the same room if possible. That’ll not only get everyone on the same page, it’ll help you build relationships and establish empathetic connections from the outset.

2. Avoid the “us vs. them” trap

When collaboration hits a snag, it’s all too common for teams to turn against each other. Engineers may blame designers for supplying mockups that aren’t functional. Designers may blame engineers for ignoring their designs. But thinking of each other as opponents just breeds distrust. Don’t forget you’re all on the same team. What everyone really wants is to find a solution, do their best work, and achieve the goal you set together.

3. Get aligned

To prevent frustration down the line, it’s crucial to give all collaborators visibility over timelines and deliverables. Most important: everyone involved in a project should be aligned on a unified objective before the teams go off to begin working on their part of the project.

4. Be transparent

Misinterpretation is a common pitfall when collaboration involves two teams with different ways of communicating. Be honest and transparent throughout the process and don’t rely on assumptions. Let your teammates know exactly what you need and when you need it.

5. Accommodate differences

Designers and engineers often have different ways of approaching their work. But this doesn’t have to lead to conflict. Just acknowledge those differences at the outset and respect the others’ judgment and expertise rather than trying to make the other conform to your way of working.

6. Learn each other’s language

To avoid resentment, strive to communicate with the other team members from the kickoff through to delivery. Ideally, designers would learn the language of engineers (i.e. code) and provide context by showing specific examples for the working mockups.

7. Determine the scope as a team

Before you begin your project, gather the teams in a room so all stakeholders can agree on the scope and identify pain points. By including the engineering team at the early stages of the design process, designers can eliminate surprises and help foster collaboration between the two groups.

8. Set the timeline together

Powerful collaboration tools are helpful. But they can’t compensate for the lack of alignment on timing. Engineers and designers often have different ideas about how much time it will take to complete a project. Set clear expectations by inviting the teams to develop the timeline together.

9. Develop a clear process

To make sure everyone stays on the same page, schedule meetings to review the progress of the project at every stage. Establish common naming conventions for all files, and be sure they are organized and accurately labeled.

10. Be flexible

Adjusting to unexpected changes isn’t easy—especially after you’ve invested a lot of time in your work. But having a little flexibility can make a big difference. Don’t get too attached to any single idea. Whenever you find the urge to dig in and resist, remember that the success of the project is what matters most.

For more tips on creating a collaborative culture, download our eBook, Flow Together.

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How do you protect your most important assets while embracing an IT strategy that still puts the user first? Last week, we traveled to Las Vegas for the Oktane18 conference to hear insights from top IT pros, cloud experts, and developers. While we were there, Bryan Mann, Head of Enterprise Architecture at Dropbox, spoke with industry leaders Cori Biruk, Director of Collaboration and SaaS at Dow Jones, Javier Ruiz, Systems Engineer at Silicon Labs, and Jarel Jones, Senior Cloud Systems Administrator at National Geographic Society. Here are eight takeaways from that conversation.

Integration capabilities have become a primary purchasing decision

“I look for solutions that have an API that potentially works with other companies. We look at how it can integrate with what we currently have.”—Cori Biruk

Maintaining a good balance for UX and security helps the whole team

“Always automate if you can. You want everything to be seamless. The integration is so tight right now with Okta and Dropbox, it makes it easy for the admin side and the user side.”—Javier Ruiz

Too many SaaS applications don’t support automated provisioning

“We spend a lot of time right now manually creating accounts in various SaaS apps. That takes up a lot of time.”—Jarel Jones

Configuration across mobile SaaS is one of the biggest challenges

“Being a news organization, we have a lot of rules around legacy information… So keeping that consistent basis across SaaS applications is a challenge. We look to solve for that using whatever tools we have and working with different department to get the applications set up.”—Cori Biruk

Individuals purchasing their own applications is an ongoing issue

“We had a lot of our employees bring in this application. It wasn’t integrated into our system. It wasn’t authenticated… so it becomes a security risk.”—Cori Biruk

Using Vera provides an additional policy layer for data protection

“End users could create a Dropbox group on the fly and that would get pushed to Okta and Vera. All of those controls and policies are automatically getting taken care of.”—Javier Ruiz

Transparency can help address Shadow IT issues

“We really try to solve that by being as transparent as possible to our users, showing a list of all the applications that are available to them. We do a lot of end user trainings.”—Javier Ruiz

Having employees and external collaborators on one platform makes collaboration easier

“With all our employees in Okta and everyone provisioned with Dropbox accounts, it made it easy to make sure everything was flowing through one direction. We could put all of our policies on top to make sure things were going where they were supposed to.”—Jarel Jones

Together, Okta and Dropbox power secure collaboration with advanced security services and a full mobility management suite that supports Dropbox EMM. To learn how our integration can help you simplify user lifecycle management and provide secure access to apps with single sign-on, connect Okta to Dropbox.

For tips on powering team collaboration, download our eBook, Flow Together.

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Over the past century, Tellepsen Builders has become a cornerstone in the development of Houston, Texas. Having completed some of the city’s most notable projects, including Texas Children’s Hospital and Lakewood Church, the company has built a reputation as a pioneer in their sector. In its fourth generation of family ownership, Tellepsen began looking for ways to continue their evolution into the fifth. Here’s how they’ve become leaders of the digital transformation of the construction industry with the help of Dropbox Business.

Improving collaboration across all teams

Construction is one of the largest sectors in the world economy—yet it’s also one of the least digitized. In a 2017 report, McKinsey estimated the industry could add $1.6 trillion in global value by adopting digital technologies. Tellepsen saw the opportunity to use tech to simplify work for their project managers—the driving force behind their company.

“We can have way over 30 projects running at any given time,” says Lee Nugent, IT Director at Tellepsen. “Our people are on these remote sites full-time, trying to manage budgets, schedules, subcontractors, billings and contract documents. So it is critical they are productive and mobile.”

Unfortunately, their file servers and VPNs were making it hard for project managers and field staff to share large files—especially when they were experiencing connectivity problems on-site. They needed a solution that could help their team keep work moving forward on the go. So they turned to Dropbox.

Saving hours every week

Working on multiple projects across multiple locations can get complicated. But since Tellepsen deployed Dropbox Business across the company in 2015, their project managers have been able to seamlessly collaborate with subcontractors, no matter where they’re located.

“The impact of Dropbox Business has been transformational. Instead of struggling to share large files with our subcontractors we just send a shared file. It is helping save two hours of work per project, per week.”—Lee Nugent, IT Director, Tellepsen

“We’ve been able to streamline how we interact with [contractors], reducing the management overhead involved while enabling our teams to get on with the job at hand,” says Lee.

And the change has had a transformational impact on the way they work. “Instead of struggling with FTP servers, now they share a read-only Dropbox folder with subcontractors containing all critical files,” Lee explains. “Preview and load times are good too, helping save two hours of work per project per week.”

And with the mobile app, project managers can devote more of their day to working on site. That’s helped them deliver higher-quality work, right on schedule.

Simplifying admin tasks in the office

Though supporting project managers was their main motivation, Lee says deploying Dropbox Business has brought unexpected benefits in the back office as well.

“File recovery is simple now and we have much more control over access and permissions,” explains Lee. “It has simplified admin tasks in the office and freed up time for others to add value further up the value chain too.”

Reducing support requests with Dropbox Smart Sync

When users save large volumes of data locally to ensure file access, mounting storage problems lead to slower performance on laptops. And that’s exactly what the Tellepsen team experienced. As people needed to expand their hard drive capacity, support teams were bombarded with simple requests—and hardware costs kept growing.

“It was costing our IT support team about four hours of their time [per week] to resolve the problem, rendering them and the user inactive,” says Lee. “Now, with Smart Sync, local storage has halved and support requests have vanished since the cloud is handling all our data.”

To find out how other top architecture, engineering and construction companies use Dropbox to seamlessly collaborate on projects, download our eBook, Build more efficiently with collaborative tools.

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