We have entered the era of personalization. Whether updating a project document, assigning a task to a team member, or accessing and editing product details within your ERP system, we want access to business-critical data and systems at any time, any place, and any device. A few years back, there was much talk about the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) revolution, but we rarely hear about it anymore — it has become the norm. In the era of personalization, the mobile device reigns supreme. Of course, there is a definite gap between the consumer-focused apps we use and love, and those that our corporate IT teams can deliver to help keep us productive and connected. Not surprisingly, the gap is decreasing every year as enterprise applications adopt the successful traits and user experiences (UX) of their consumer-based equivalents. As a result, the mobile UX is on the rise — and with it, employee engagement will also increase.
As analysts and business magazines often report, the average smartphone user checks their device 125 to 150 times per day. Not surprisingly, as our devices become more powerful and the apps we use become more versatile, connecting our data repositories wherever they may sit, we’re moving more and more of our personal and professional lives into these devices. We all want our company platforms and solutions to work as seamlessly as the apps and tools we use on our smartphones, and so understandably the enterprise is moving closer to the consumer experience. Next-generation intranets are beginning to balance formal and informal communications, making the user experience more social and dynamic, tying advanced capabilities to the needs of the business.
Read more about the key mobile trends in our free whitepaper: Mobile is Eating the Workplace.
Mobile vs Mobility
It should not come as a surprise that the focus of both consumer and enterprise development is shifting toward mobility. But don’t think of “mobile” as a telephony category — there’s more to mobility than smartphones and tablets. Think of it as functional portability; the ability to take your work (or your fun) wherever you need to go. We log into a borrowed computer to access our email, voicemails, and favorite links. Rather than just display information, these solutions are increasingly functional, allowing us to get work done anywhere, any time, and with just about any device.
We expect the solutions we use at home to be available at work, when we’re on the road, or even when logging into a shared computer at an internet café while on vacation. Mobility is about extending the user experience across whatever device we use.
As the speed of our hardware and software has increased over the past two decades, and the price of connectivity has decreased, this mobility trend has chipped away at the need for a physical office. And adding to that cycle of change, with more people working remotely part or full-time, the opportunity for enterprising developers to provide tools and capabilities to help individuals to connect and work via mobile devices only grows.
According to Bill Seibel, president of mobility services company Mobiquity, the maturity of mobility was traditionally viewed as transcribing our old website models into mobile form. He said that the pattern for organizations is to first experiment, testing out various models of engagement, and focusing heavily on branding. But as they learned about their users — and, more importantly, where the user experience could be extended — their solutions moved into more complex and richer user experiences: commerce, loyalty and analytics; behavior change; reach; distributed workforce; and customer journey.
While there are many efforts underway to build out net-new functionality for the enterprise — apps that provide new, feature-rich capabilities, or at least technology not accessible to mainstream users (think location-based applications, pioneered by companies like FourSquare), the bulk of innovation around mobility comes from extending those applications and systems already available behind the firewall, inside the enterprise. Extending these enterprise systems into mobile platforms will be one of the key sources of corporate innovation over the coming decade, with mobile-enabled business processes that dramatically improve information worker productivity.
Extending the SharePoint Mobile Story
Earlier this spring, Microsoft announced the arrival of new mobile apps for SharePoint Online, as well as for SharePoint Server 2013 and 2016, and also connecting to OneDrive. With more than 190 million users across more than 200,000 companies worldwide, it is about time that Microsoft focused more on the shifting mobile economy and offered solutions for its industry-leading content management and collaboration capabilities.
As part of the Future of SharePoint announcements in May, Microsoft showcased their latest mobile road map, with the ability to access and interact with SharePoint document libraries and lists, and connect to the responsive, mobile-designed sites and portals that leverage the company’s latest advances in search and machine learning, including content recommendations powered by the Microsoft Graph.
Of course, having access to your SharePoint sites and data is just the first step, and both Microsoft and the partner ecosystem are actively striving to bring more targeted solutions to customers. Regardless of mobile platform, all of the mobile app stores are awash in options for improving individual and team productivity. As Microsoft continues to open up access to their APIs and data, we will see more and more UX improvements and productivity features finding their way into the enterprise, and specifically into the SharePoint and Office 365 ecosystem.
As your organization begins to explore how to better extend your own business systems into mobile solution, the takeaway here is not to approach mobile by saying “What can I do with mobile?” but to instead think about the business areas that are causing you the most problems, and where your employees are inefficient. Think about your customer experience when interacting with your products, your people, or your brand. Also think about how you can better motivate your employees, your partners, and your customers through mobile solutions. If you focus on improving these areas, with mobility being one possible platform or option for those improvements, it may change how you approach the problem entirely. In the end, mobility becomes more of a strategy than another platform to deploy, and understanding where mobility fits within your broader SharePoint strategy becomes even more business critical.
At Beezy, we have openly embraced the forthcoming mobile revolution, and are working on a number of exciting efforts in the mobile space. If you are interested in learning more about what we are working on, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule your demo today.
And if you like to learn more about the key trends that are driving the mobility movement, download a copy of our free whitepaper: Mobile is Eating the Workplace