In a mobile-centric world, IT has a new challenge on its hands: ensuring that users can access and collaborate on content anytime, anywhere and on any device. Despite the challenges enterprises face with mobile collaboration diligent IT and business leaders have many options to get people working on any device.
Mobile devices, applications and data are at the centre of our digital lives, from personal relationships to business productivity, and the numbers prove it. There are hundreds of millions of smartphones and tablets in use all around the world and each has the potential to function as a mobile computer. Whether these mobile tools are being provided by businesses to staff or people are bringing their own devices to use at work, employees now want the same content sharing and collaboration experiences with these platforms as with their familiar laptops and desktops.
As workers’ computing options continue to expand, businesses have a growing challenge of how to make information – from documents to customer details – available on any device, particularly with content sharing and collaboration traditionally tied to closed enterprise systems. To get around these restrictions, end-users have started “bringing” their own apps to use for work and now the trend of Bring You Own Apps (BYOA) is a prevalent as BYOD.
If IT loses control of the organisation’s content there can be serious implications for security, data protection and compliance.
Gartner’s 2012 worldwide survey of CIOs found mobile and collaboration technologies (workflow) among respondents’ top five technology priorities for the year. The same survey also revealed cloud computing as a high priority. That year cloud storage vendor Box sponsored a report into the business benefits of mobile collaboration. The report detailed a number of challenges enterprises face regarding collaboration.
The first challenge for IT and business leaders is to accommodate the consumer-driven IT trends. According to Forrester Research, employees pay for more than half of the devices and data plans used for work across every region and employees pay for 70 per cent of the tablets used for work. The mobile collaboration challenge must account for supporting content access, sharing and collaboration across multiple smartphone and tablet platforms. Many cloud-based content storage and sharing services can be used as a platform for this type of collaboration.
The second challenge is to facilitate the easy connection to content. With many corporate employees accessing content from outside an office location, it’s important to connect to files and documents from smartphones and tablets as efficiently as they can from laptops and desktops. Using services that allow local storage and discovery of content will reduce time spent getting access to the content itself.
Thirdly, how to organisations mobilise data from legacy systems? Many enterprise content management systems lack the ability to serve data to mobile devices, or in order to enable mobile access, a lot of configuration work needs to be performed and then updated. To overcome this challenge, consider content sharing services that also connect to traditional enterprise content repositories. This approach also helps protect investments made in enterprise systems.
In the age of social media, another challenge is how to best integrate content sharing with the collaboration tools people use every day to communicate with friends and co-workers. This means cloud collaboration and file sharing systems have to fully engage on social terms in a business-savvy context. This integration allows people to collaborate in new, easier ways than through a collection of emails.
Finally, it can be difficult for businesses to maintain control of their content and provide a good end-user experience. If end-users start using public cloud services for document storage and collaboration the confidence in IT to provide these services can diminish. This trade-off makes it important for IT managers to adopt cloud services that provide multi-platform, mobile access combined with enterprise grade security and control.