What is SharePoint sprawl and how does it impact security? Microsoft 365 offers freedom and accessibility, allowing for an effortless transition from office to remote work. Communication and collaboration are done through the cloud, transforming the way we work to incorporate a hybrid approach.

However, even though Microsoft 365 is helpful to businesses and empowers users, IT departments must take responsibility for the management of their Microsoft 365 licenses. For example, not tracking or monitoring Microsoft 365 sprawl can lead to security risks.

Understanding Data as an Asset

Data is full of company history, offering leverage in the competition and providing transformative ways to improve business practices. Yet, there is a variety of business data made everyday that is left unstructured or unused. This leads to data sprawl.

What is Data Sprawl?

Data sprawl involves company data (intellectual property) that is spread across various sites and data silos.

Data becomes even more fragmented with the use of:

  • Employee personal devices or Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) – 71% of office workers globally – including 68% in the US – admitted to sharing sensitive and business-critical company data using instant messaging and business collaboration tools (source).
  • Using different operating systems
  • Using multiple storage systems (on-prem or cloud)
  • JML (Joiners, Movers, Leavers)

Gartner predicts 75% of enterprise-generated data will be created and processed at the edge, outside a traditional centralized data center or cloud, by 2025.

The biggest risks to your company with data sprawl include:

  • Security – as your business data continues to grow and spread it becomes harder to manage, organize, or track
  • Value – your business data is an asset and loses value when it is not categorized and structured.
  • Compliance – ensuring legal contracts are followed

A study found that 80% of surveyed IT leaders identified data sprawl as one of the most critical problems their organizations must address today (source).

How does Data Sprawl impact Microsoft 365?

Microsoft 365 gives freedom to the user, which appears to be a good thing. However, this freedom also opens the door for users to create sprawl issues. Examples of sprawl issues easily created by users include:

  • Duplicate content
  • Duplicate workspaces
  • Share content

The sprawl of sensitive company data from these user activities heavily impacts security, as well as migration/ adoption plans.

SharePoint Sprawl

Microsoft Teams is used for communication and collaboration, it is not a management tool. Instead, when data is uploaded or accessed, this information is shared between OneDrive and SharePoint (and often other areas).

Much like an iceberg, SharePoint’s known usage is small in comparison to the SharePoint sprawl from unknown usage. SharePoint has common challenges with sprawl from Teams, leaving businesses wanting to improve governance and compliance controls.

The Solution? Ongoing Management

Automatically tracking and monitoring your Microsoft 365 usage offers improvements to your security risks. This includes knowing who is using what application and knowing where files are being shared, stored, or accessed.

How can Smarter SaaS Pro Help?

Smarter SaaS Pro is a fully automatic software asset management tool that makes tracking Microsoft 365 applications easy. With in-depth app reporting you gain insights on:

  • SharePoint – usage and sprawl
  • OneDrive – storage and usage of files, individual user analysis
  • Exchange –  active/ inactive user analysis, email adoption, send/ receive/ read counts
  • Teams: in-depth analysis by activity

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