From Mobile Apps to Mobile Engagement in Three Steps

Posted on by David Keane

mobile_topimageEnabling the mobile workforce to be productive is the ultimate goal of any business mobility initiative.  While the idea that mobile devices like the iPad, Android tablet and today’s leading smartphones can change how users work in the enterprise is well established, the real challenge is how to enable a mobile workforce to have access to all the different content they need to do their job from their mobile device, without having to circumvent security and content governance objectives or require mobile users to learn a mix of consumer software tools that work in different user interfaces in order to be productive. Viewing, editing, annotating, sharing and collaborating on content must be available from the same application.

Mobile devices are becoming a key factor for winning business, improving customer service, and increasing overall productivity for organizations, but this requires a three-step plan to move beyond just using mobile applications to enabling true mobile engagement.

The three-step plan requires:

  • Users’ ability to work with their business applications in the same way they work with consumer applications.
  • User access to, and the ability to properly render and work with content, across all content repositories (CRM, ECM, Cloud File Sync & Share, ERP, Microsoft SharePoint & network drives).
  • Automatic delivery of content and information to mobile workers that they require while working from a mobile device.
  • The ability to work with content and HTML5 apps both on and off line

The trick is to meet these requirements without compromising corporate security policies and content governance objectives in the process.

Great options – but no engagement

One of the alternatives for enterprise IT is to provision corporate devices to authorized users (which doesn’t work in a BYOD world), with a select set of mobile applications, which create silos of content and multiple user experiences. While this sounds like a simple plan, the real cost of this approach is significant for an enterprise in terms of ensuring successful adoption of the solution, as it relies on users being able to figure out what mobile apps they need to work with content. These approaches can also compromise corporate security and content governance due to the lack of control over content and where it can end up once it’s on a mobile device.

During the last decade the consumerisation of IT has had a huge impact on enterprises. Workforces now demand the same user experience they get with consumer applications to exist within business applications.

What’s even more of a challenge is how to ensure that the mobile device achieves a level of productive utilization so that it delivers a true return on investment for the organization. Deploying tablets and smartphones only to have them used for email, playing games and web browsing isn’t enough of a productivity benefit to deliver true value to an organization.   When a mobile device user has a sub-optimal application experience coupled with a lack of productivity tools, the mobile device might end up being used to stream Netflix.

Users not sure where to go to get what they need

The explosion of content available to an enterprise user continues to grow, with personal cloud storage, application content stores, corporate intranet access, file shares, enterprise content management platforms, and locally created content that mobile device users need to access.

This content explosion has created a number of challenges for mobile users. Multiple silos of content across numerous content repositories (within the enterprise and in the cloud) and across applications creates a lot of confusion on where to find content. Asking mobile users to search and surf through a multitude of folders and files in a repository is not an ideal user experience. Content replication has created a proliferation of the same content making it nearly impossible for content publishers/producers and mobile content users to know what is the right or latest version of the content to use, not to mention all the time wasted by the mobile workforces replicating existing content because they couldn’t find it. According to a 2011 EMI Industry Intelligence Report, in an average week technology sales professionals spend 8 hours developing client presentations, 5 hours looking for marketing collateral, and 4 hours searching for customer information outside the organization. Over a full year, 17 hours each week translates to 100 full sales days lost.

Doing work on the mobile device has become a major integration task for the user, significantly affecting their productivity. Taking this approach makes the overall aim of user engagement and enablement more difficult to achieve and frustrates mobile users. Implementing this kind of solution is not what mobile users expect.

Push vs. Pull

The experience that mobile device users expect, and they’ve had a lot of experience with from their personal use of consumer apps from the public app stores, is to have information and content automatically delivered to their mobile device. A key part of that experience is the use of push technology that delivers content to a mobile device in a single, structured way that’s independent of where that content originally comes from.

With mobile push technologies, users expect that their content is “automagically” available on their mobile device, and that they can work with all their content easily and instantly, no matter which content source it comes from. Meeting that expectation is key to achieving the kind of engagement and productivity that the business is expecting from their mobile initiative.

For many organizations, this goal has been a challenge to achieve. But getting to this vision needn’t be that complex if you think mobile first and work back into the enterprise. Implement a mobile platform that will become a new “home plate” for users, one that takes the complexity out of forcing users to understand how to work with a multitude of apps. The enhanced productivity and engagement benefits will make it worth the while.

David Keane is founder and CEO of bigtincan.

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