Editor’s Note: This article first appeared on our partner site Today’s Campus Magazine – Covering the people, campuses, and companies that are making business news in higher education.
You’ve heard of Dropbox, Box, Google Drive – need I go on? Why would you care to hear about another cloud document service? Well, as of today, a little school out east called Yale is taking notice and has officially selected NetDocuments to handle their collaborative file management. And for good reason.
You may have noticed I mostly write about hot, emerging edtech startups. Yet, document management doesn’t sound hip, NetDocs is far from a new company, and it certainly doesn’t solely appeal to the education market. So why am I incredibly interested in what they’re doing?
NetDocs is enabling universities and K-12s to collaborate on their internal documents with the necessary security compliance schools could only otherwise find in server-based systems. Their organization style is also unique, because locating specific files in a folder tree structure populated with – literally – 50 million documents is more than a little impractical. I can’t imagine scaling a Dropbox-style organizational file system to much more than a few hundred documents.
Maybe you already use software to manage documents directly from your desktop applications, but does it work for email as well? NetDocs is really the whole package for work collaboration, and even allows tracking over the lifetime of your documents. They integrate with Microsoft Office, Adobe, and iWork, plus they have mobile applications for those who work from their tablets frequently. I’m not a coder, but I see a strong resemblance here to what GitHub has done for programmers, which is fantastic.
One thing they have in common with all the companies I follow is a solid team. Good people are vitally important to a company, and none ultimately succeed without this factor. I can personally vouch for NetDocs after talking with Marriott (Mitt) Murdock, their Global Channel Partner Program Manager. I wouldn’t guess they were an established global giant just by talking to Mitt (if he hadn’t told me so!). They have a strong “start-upy” feel, with driven and down-to-earth team members. I can’t think of a better reason to start using NetDocs. Am I biased?
Maybe, but I’m certainly not the only one who likes what their helping administrators and educators do on campuses, and their adoption among schools of all types and sizes shows. They already have over 20 schools from around the world on their paid SaaS platform, in addition to countless other non-education related businesses. To give some perspective, there’s right around 1 BILLON documents on NetDocs, and this is growing rapidly.
In our talk, Mitt really drove home the point that NetDocs was built first as a collaborate tool, and second as document cloud storage. It’s not just about parking your work somewhere for it to be safe (though it does this, too), it specializes in assisting you to form and shape your projects with your team. With this focus, NetDocs was created nearly 15 years ago, and this is what continues to drive its development.
Another important thing to note is that NetDocs can be as useful in the classroom as it is at your department level. It would specifically be helpful in STEM lab and research-based courses for sharing findings and managing team workflows.
Of course, I also like NetDoc’s focus on lowering institutional operating costs by eliminating expenses like the hardware and client-side system maintenance necessary in server technology. With rising campus costs everywhere else, it’s reliving to find the companies who propose money-saving solutions. It makes me think they’ll listen when you tell them your budget, rather than being the vendor that returns with a package that’s twice what you can afford.
According to them, NetDocs also offers instant deployment to save you an incredible amount of time. It takes just days or weeks (depending on your document load) to fully setup and migrate your documents. Since it could take months or even years to assemble and migrate to a server-based system, you should most certainly get NetDocs if you’re just beginning to look for collaborative software.
I have to say, as an Ann Arbor, Michigan native, I’m glad to learn that the University of Michigan is also one of the institutions on-board. I was surprised how much NetDocs really sets themselves apart from and above their closest competitors. All in all, what’s not to like?