The mobility discussion isn’t fresh off the presses. BYOD isn’t something you have to look up to remember what the D represents. But much of the business-mobility discussion still focuses around smartphones and basic access. It’s a pretty limited view when you consider the potential beyond the petri dish of e-mail and calendaring.
Having access to my work e-mail and calendar on my smartphone is good stuff. As is having my choice of phones. And even the simple tools benefit my productivity, while letting me have a life beyond my job. Surprise, surprise: Sometimes “work happens” outside the normal work hours of my particular time zone. And, yes, “life happens” during my normal work hours.
I could be productive on a laptop from home, but my dog would soon gnaw through my keyboard in protest. (Probably with prodding from my kid and a jar of peanut butter.) But she doesn’t mind if I check and answer e-mail at the dog park.
She’s a pretty advanced dog. She even accepts the need for instant messaging and an occasional WebEx conference, although her presence typically requires liberal use of the mute button.
Beyond the Basics
So, what’s missing? Once people get over the novelty of e-mail and calendaring, they look for more. If they can slingshot birds across the universe, book airline flights, and deposit checks on these pocket-sized supercomputers, shouldn’t they be able to do more?
For me, web conferencing on a smartphone is one of the basics. But I acknowledge that my picture of basic is tinted. I use products that may still seem like Star Trek Communicators must have to television viewers in 1970. (And there’s a connection, kinda: Dr. Martin Cooper credits Captain James T. Kirk’s Communicator as inspiration of the handheld cellular phone. Admittedly, I was attempting to make a joke about the Star Trek connection, then looked it up – no joke.)
But handheld web conferencing isn’t all science fiction and polyester that only Cisco employees get. WebEx Mobile is easily obtainable -- it's an app store download and pretty simple clicks -- or swipes. And it’s the same experience I’m used to on my laptop.
Collaboration is all about people and connections. Given that the people with whom we need to connect may be anywhere, on any device, making mobility a priority element of collaboration applications just makes sense. You shouldn’t have to make sure everyone can be at a desk or in a conference room at the same time to get things done. You should just make sure they have access to the tools they need – so they can connect and get those same things done, wherever, whenever.
Looking Further Ahead
Re-engineering enterprise applications for mobile devices, whether smartphones or tablets, isn’t easy. There’s a lot of prioritizing to be done. Which users need attention first? Internal employees? Customers? Which apps are most important? Which are most easily mobilized?
Even web-based applications aren’t necessarily simple transitions for touch screens. There’s more to it than just making a pretty face pocket-sized and taking away the keyboard.
A recent article in CIO reports that the average company has 400 custom and packaged applications – of which only 22% can be accessed from mobile devices. The same article quotes a survey of CIOs and IT decision makers in which:
65% cite mobile development costs as the biggest barrier
36% expect an increase in productivity if they mobilize critical enterprise applications
90% have taken – or plan to take -- steps toward developing enterprise applications for mobile use
Easy or not, it’s a clearly priority.
As for Today
Technology is part of it, as is culture. I can chart the evolution. My first mobile phone was a Motorola MicroTAC that made phone calls and consumed battery power at an alarming rate. Now I have a phone that does far more than my first desktop computer could ever be programmed to dream about. Along the way, I’ve changed the way I communicate with the people in my work world– more e-mail, more messaging, fewer phone calls, less travel. And as the applications available to me continue to evolve, so will the way I work and collaborate with others.
How can you take mobility and BYOD beyond the basics in your organization?
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