Employees who use tablets and other mobile devices to improve their productivity often find that traditional client/server applications with on-premise servers are inadequate to meet their needs. This explains the rapid growth of native apps linked to cloud-based services, or what Forrester calls the “mobile app Internet.”
In “The Forrester Wave™: Mobile Collaboration, Q3 2011,” customer experience analyst Ted Schadler explains that “the explosion of app innovation that started on the iPhone and then spread to Android devices and tablets will continue to drive tech industry innovation and have far-reaching pricing and go-to-market implications for software and services providers.”
Take traditional content management, for example. Ted Blosser, Senior Account Executive at Box, a cloud-based document sharing service, happily declares that “more customers say they’re looking for a secure and easy way to get content onto their staff’s tablets. At first, I primarily saw this trend only with boards of directors and senior leadership, but now I see it across large functional groups like marketing, sales, and field operations.”
As of late September 2011, Box reported an increase of more than 600% in mobile customer implementations, compared to all of 2010. And according to Forrester, they’re not alone: Cisco WebEx is already logging more than 15 million monthly mobile minutes. Yammer, which operates like Facebook for internal business communities, is used by 82% of the Fortune 500.
Beyond e-mail, which is still used extensively on smartphones and tablets, mobile collaboration solutions are burgeoning. The most important categories include:
- Conferencing — Meetings, chat, audio, and video
- Document Management — Secure document sharing and filing
- Private Social Networks
- Note Taking
- Activity Feeds
As these solutions become essential for productivity, mobile employees are demanding a higher-quality user experience with faster speeds and the ability to synch across multiple devices.
Exciting, and confusing, times are ahead for companies trying to develop collaboration strategies for an increasingly mobile workforce. Schadler recommends that content and collaboration professionals look for solutions that are:
Designed to run well on any mobile device. With so much choice available and employee expectations that they can use their own tablets at work, companies should choose vendors that support iOS, Android, and RIM, as well as the most popular Web browsers.
Delivered as a cloud service. Cloud suppliers with multiple data centers and points of presence across the country and around the world are best at reducing latency and providing a faster user experience.
Schadler also notes that most Forrester customers ask about vendors that have at least two years of mobility experience, so keep that in mind as you put together your collaboration toolkit.
Tablets are indeed transformative devices, and so are the apps that enable productive collaboration. As Forrester’s Schadler says: “When work is a thing you do rather than a place you go, you know you are living in a work-anywhere world.”
Let me know what you’re doing to connect to your colleagues with your tablets and mobile apps.