NetDocuments and Office 365

One of the decisions facing firms evaluating Office 365 or already using the toolset is when to stay native and when to bring in complementary tools. There is a growing ecosystem of add-on tools for Office 365, for tasks such as initial migration, ongoing management, delegated administration, backup email flow, and security and compliance, among others. In brief, the benefits of staying native include lower IT complexity, lower cost, and an easier environment to manage. The benefits of bringing in complementary tools include better fit-for-purpose capabilities (as compared with general-purpose capabilities), streamlined task execution for IT and end-users, and more.

One situation where it can make a lot of sense to complement Office 365 is where users are already invested in a current tool for a critical process. For law firms and corporate legal departments, that is often its document management system. NetDocuments, a cloud-based document and email management service for this market, just threw its hat into the ring with an integration to Office 365:

[The integration enables] the DMS functionality of opening, editing, creating, and searching within the native Microsoft Office 365 applications across desktops and mobile devices. The integration incorporates NetDocuments’ security and information governance initiatives by keeping content centralized in the firm-wide DMS while securely interacting with Office 365, improving end-users’ ability to interact with and create content regardless of location or device.

A couple of the reasons given include:
– Support for attorneys using iOS devices.
– Access to real-time co-authoring and editing capabilities in Microsoft Office

It will be interesting to see how far NetDocuments push the integration, and part of that will be based on feedback from its customers on further points of integration. For example, NetDocuments already offers an “echoing” capability for replicating recently used documents for offline access and use, whereas Office 365 offers the maturing OneDrive for Business sync client for doing the same. After linking up with Office 365, the challenge for NetDocuments becomes how to retain its unique and differentiated advantages in the face of rapid change of Office 365.

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