One of the companies that has, until now, been left behind amidst all the attention given to the file collaboration and sharing vendors is YouSendIt. While the charismatic founders of Box and DropBox, Aaron Levie and Drew Houston respectively, articulate a vision of interconnectedness and the end of emailing files between collaborators, YouSendIt has quietly continued to power the sending of large files between people all across the globe.
Today sees YouSendIt bend their focus somewhat with the launch of Workstream, an enterprise focused content sharing service that is betting the house on a deep integration with Microsoft SharePoint. Like a Box.net, Workstream is focused on making accessing, sharing and managing content between different stakeholders easier. Unlike Box however, they believe that many enterprises will do so from within their existing Microsoft-centric paradigm and hence are deeply embedding within Microsoft Active Directory and Outlook as well as offering a SharePoint plugin to handle the sharing part of collaboration directly within SharePoint.
YouSendIt is quick to point out that they’re no fly-by-night startup. Their existing product line has 28 million registered users worldwide and the beta version of Workstream is being used within some large enterprises including AMAG Pharmaceuticals, Burr & Forman, CHI & Partners, Sesame Workshop and Woods Bagot. The key message that YouSendIt is relying on when pitching Workstream is that it empowers users, but does so within their existing usage model – and maximizes the return on their sunk Microsoft investments. In terms of the specific integrations with Outlook and SharePoint, Workstream offers the following benefits;
- Seamless – Integrates with Outlook so it fits right into existing email workflows. It eliminates the need to adopt new workflows so users don’t have to switch between multiple applications to share critical content.
- Empowers – Enables Outlook, SharePoint, and Active Directory users to be more efficient and effective. It easily, securely extends content collaboration outside the firewall so users don’t have to learn a new system and IT’s significant Microsoft investments are protected.
- Secure – Allows users to collaborate from any device or location while maintaining stringent security controls for IT so data is protected.
Of course the jury is out on whether this new breed of collaboration is best served by forgetting existing IT assets and instead investing in a new platform, one that doesn’t come with the baggage that a Microsoft suite of products do. While it is undeniable that SharePoint isn’t exactly user friendly (my enterprise friends often quip that no one wants to use SharePoint, but everyone does actually use it), it is a known quantity and this is what the newcomers – Box, Google, Podio et al are up against. YouSendIt is placing a firm bet in the camp that says incumbency will win out.