We've all seen the mobile snowball effect in the enterprise. It's driven in part by the consumerization of IT and the bring your own device movement. The more we use mobile, the more opportunities to conduct business on the go become available, so the more we rely on mobile. This is great, but brings with it some challenges.
As I mentioned last month’s piece about getting back to the basics, this is the year when we figure out "the right mobile strategies and align them with business needs across different mobile personas, device types and intranet applications."
Since the start of this year, 17.4 percent of web traffic has come through mobile which is more than a 6 percent increase since 2012, according to Statista. And last year ComScore reported that 40 percent of Internet time is spent on mobile devices -- this is likely higher today.
For the enterprise, what’s interesting about this is the shift towards a mobile workforce. We’re seeing expanded opportunities for collaboration across geographies, time zones, travel, etc.
So what do we keep in mind when implementing a mobile solution for collaboration in the enterprise?
Your Audience Knows What it Needs
Are they using corporate devices on the road? Or their mobile phones on the bus on their commute? Do they review documents, electronically sign documents or edit documents? Are they more spreadsheets or Word docs?
Don’t just take a solution out of the box. While that may seem like the cheaper option, it will cost in terms of adoption and return on the investment. When your solution is tailored to users, you’ll see a lot more success. We spend a lot of time up front getting a 360-degree understanding of the audience. Today, this means understanding their mobile usage in addition to everything else.
Failure is a Real Risk
The thing about enterprises looking to enhance mobile collaboration is that there’s risk involved in a poor execution. If we don’t do it right, our employees will be reluctant to adopt the new tools and methods.
In fact, users are going to be reluctant no matter what you do. Our human, knee-jerk reaction to change is usually that it’s bad, until you can prove otherwise. Without making a workflow substantially better, you run the risk of creating a fragmented experience across your enterprise, with some users using the new workflow -- which makes best use of your systems, using your company’s security best practices -- and others not.
Change Demands to be Managed
If you have read my blog before you know how I feel about “out of the box” and “build it and they will come” -- hardly a good strategy for success. You need to prove that the new way is better -- and show how it gets better on each device. When enterprises ease the transition to the new way, they will decrease the natural resistance to change.
Provide multiple ways to interact and train on the new system. Take advantage of hands on opportunities to experience it -- whether it’s through lunchroom demos, hands on pre-launch previews or a webinar. You have to do something in the enterprise to change the current mindset that this is going to take away from my current responsibilities.
Agnosticism: It’s Not Just for Religion
If a solution doesn’t work fully with excellent usability on an employee’s device, why would they use it? People will start doing their own thing despite corporate encouragement to the contrary. Some will still be using email, while others use Dropbox while still others use Evernote. Not only does this defeat the purpose of creating a mobile collaboration solution in the first place, it also reduces efficiency of employees, and may actually hinder productivity. With an upfront exploration of how devices work together, the solution will be more usable. Mobile collaboration must work -- and work well -- across devices.
Enterprise is Friendly and Social
Social elements (we just call this collaboration at our office) are important -- bearing in mind that most of your employees are connecting with people, and the essence of collaboration is building off of the interplay between and among your employees. Social features help extend that experience through technology and offering ways to be social, whether it’s a social wall or badges, helps increase adoption. When your solution is easy to use and friendly -- even if your employees are highly knowledgeable about technology -- you will see better results.
The right mobile collaboration solution will be shaped by the needs of each individual enterprise. If it’s out of the box, it is almost guaranteed to be the wrong solution. Collaboration is most successful when it is customized to the needs of the collaborators. The always on, connected employee can be more effective when she has the tools that make it all possible.
What do you think is most important thing to keep in mind for mobile collaboration for your business?
Title image by Ermolaev Alexander (Shutterstock)
Editor's Note: Read what Kevin had to say about the mobile enterprise back in 2012: The Mobile Enterprise: Still a Ways to Go