A full month of guidance on Information Management Agility is nearly behind us. Wrapping things up we checked-in with the CMSWire community via our latest reader poll. The question this time around: What do you think is the next big thing for Information Management? And it's mobile that has taken the winners flag -- but that glossy thing in your right hand ain't the only thing changing the game.


The Results At a Glance: The Mobile Enterprise

A picture is worth a thousand words and the following one tells it all: mobile technologies and work habits will shake things up in the enterprise:


Are you surprised that mobile leads with 40% of the vote and that social media tools only captured 14%? Both are critical elements to how we communicate and collaborate today. And the reality is that more and more people have a mobile device of some kind. Even more importantly, as Billy Cripe, VP of Marketing at Fishbowl Solutions, a consulting firm focused on content management solutions, puts it:

Mobile devices are hyper-ubiquitous. It’s not just that everyone has them, it’s that everyone has one WITH them.

This fact alone presents organizations with a huge opportunity, and a huge challenge. First of all, to be competitive, many organizations have gone global, which means they are sending their employees across the country and across the world. This means they need to provide access to their information to a broader mobile workforce than ever before. Second, we are living in a world of virtual offices, with employees spread across the global in some instances.

The fact that employees have their own mobile devices removes the need for organizations to both supply and support the hardware and technology, but it also means they need to support information access on a broad array of devices, and they need to be aware of the security and compliance issues that could arise from employees using their devices for both personal and professional needs.

Apoorv Durga, an analyst from the Real Story Group adds this:

...i do believe mobile will be big, especially in developing countries where mobile penetration is more than computer penetration. Orgs will need to think beyond Blackberries and iPhones and think about more broadbase support of delivery to different handsets.

Why Is Mobile Suited to Information Management?

Cripe says mobile devices shortcut access to information,

Mobile devices shortcut the access to information. – fewer clicks / keystrokes to get to the info I need/want. This means accessing information, even tangentially related information is much less disruptive than access on a laptop/desktop/netbook.

He also believes there are a number of content centric business requirements that are well suited to mobile ECM, like Sales enablement, as opposed to traditional email. 

Aaron Levie, CEO of Box.net, a cloud based content management provider, sees mobile as the next big disruptor for enterprise content management (ECM), saying

...[mobile] is an incredible opportunity to rethink and redesign how content is presented and consumed. Across software categories, the mobile phone's form and inherent size limitations are helping to accelerate a broader shift from cumbersome, overloaded platforms to more streamlined, user-friendly and sexier business applications.

Cheryl McKinnon, CMO of open source Enterprise CMS vendor Nuxeo, agrees that mobile presents big opportunities:

The information worker of 2010 and beyond is desk-bound no more. Mobile is what we are, and agile is our goal in this fast-moving and competitive world of work. ... we need to be able to create, edit, consume and re-use content from inside and outside our formal corporate systems wherever and whenever the need to work presents itself.

But What About Social Media?

It may not be seen as the leading disruptor for information management, but it's still seen as important. As more and more organizations look to integrate some social aspects into their business systems and provide Enterprise 2.0 technologies to support effective collaboration, we may see this percentage increase in a later poll.

According to Dion Hinchcliffe, Senior VP at social business consulting firm Dachis Group:

Even as organizations have strategically started to embrace social business, the global changes driven by widespread social computing are still ongoing. A confluence of large scale behavior change and co-evolutionary Internet-based technological progress are driving important new trends in 2010. While some of these are somewhat early stage, a few are more advanced and nearly upon us. By and large, most of these are still under the radar of enterprises today.

It may be that many see integrated social media capabilities as a natural enhancement to enterprise content management whereas mobile is about the accessibility of information in a way that helps us respond more quickly.

In fact, one of the social business trends that Hinchcliffe speaks of in his article, Six Social Business Trends to Watch, is "mobile experience as the primary social channel". This makes the point that mobile is about the channel, not the information.

Final Thoughts

Organizations will face significant information management challenges over the next few years. Staying competitive will demand that leaders take them on. Getting out in front will require more -- brave experimentation, broad cultural adaptation and a willingness to invest in the future of enterprise information management.

Advancing information management strategy via integration of mobile and social media tools and practices looks like it will be one of the keys to success. The road ahead will cross these new ways of working and collaborating with search, knowledge management, business intelligence and compliance. That's not going to be simple, cheap or smooth. On the upside, it sure won't be boring either.