Companies are gradually realizing that mobile capability is becoming critical to the success of the corporate ESN. If your company ESN or intranet is not mobile, you’re cutting off too many people too much of the time. It’s no longer acceptable to consider any kind of ESN that isn’t mobile. Some insist that mobile must be a given for any social network you intend to deploy. Users need new ways to find experts in their company or easily leverage useful content from all over the organization, whether they are at the desk or on the road.
The rapid adoption of smartphones, which I noted in an earlier post Enterprise Social Media: Where are We?, along with the explosion of device capabilities, is driving the rise of the collaborative mobile workforce in today’s work environment. Organizations increasingly look to harness the power of mobile collaboration to improve efficiency, productivity, and innovation.
How do organizations hope to achieve these gains with mobile ESNs? One answer is by taming the torrent of email that plagues most workers. The overwhelming majority of businesses are expected to increasingly supplement, not displace, email with a mobile collaboration platform. What’s the benefit?
Mobile collaboration apps can help reduce overall email flow: minor updates, organizational announcements, messages from leadership, all of the typical corporate communications that now flow into email inboxes can be communicated easily via a company ESN, and pushed out to the mobile platform to all employees in the office and in the field. Mobile collaboration apps let workers choose what notifications they receive, and exert greater control over incoming messages. Even more important, though, is the capability of mobile collaboration platforms to secure and organize content. Who hasn’t had the experience of digging through their Outlook folders, trying to locate a file sent by a colleague? Outlook was never intended to be a document storage application, but storage has become a de facto usage for just about every user. Mobile collaboration, on the other hand, offers a space to centralize content by group, topic or project and can be integrated with secure content repositories.
Mobile sensors will drive innovation and business value. As Dion Hinchcliffe has noted, smart mobile devices aren’t laptops that are lighter, they have a rich set of new sensors (compass, GPS, accelerometers, gyroscopes, multiple cameras, NFC, and more) with operating systems designed to take advantage of them. This can enable many interesting business scenarios such as multiple-point video chat via Skype, WebEx, or Google Hangouts, transcripted recordings of meetings, voice integration with social media, and many other communication advances. While unified communication platforms are focusing on these even more than enterprise social media, both will ultimately take advantage of it to drive productivity internally and better engagement externally.
Email remains the dominant form of communication in the business space, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. But mobile ESNs have the capacity to lessen the email burden on employees, while driving new forms of collaborative behavior.