With the proliferation of mobile devices being used in business today, the landscape of enterprise collaboration solutions is changing in order to keep up. Legacy collaboration solutions no longer fit the modern, mobile, and connected workforce’s needs and expectations. Employees are looking for ways to make collaboration instantaneous, effective, and interactive. According to Collaboration 2.0: Death of the Web Conference (As We Know It), 73% of workers are using a laptop, smartphone, tablet, or combination of these devices during in-person meetings. In order for businesses to have powerful mobile workforces, value-added resellers (VARs) will need to work with their customers in order to modernize collaboration tools, starting with understanding what mobile workers need.
Companies today generally do no more than provide their employees the ability to access email, calendars, and contact lists via mobile devices. Workers, especially Millennials, want more—they want the ability to have instant face-to-face video meetings at any time and from anywhere. They want to be able to check specific news feeds from their mobile devices without having to scour the Internet in order to find what they are looking for. They often want to use one device for both personal and business requirements. They want to send and receive instant messages to co-workers, partners, and suppliers without the disruption of a phone call. As a result, enterprises need to move ahead of basic mobile collaboration tools and invest in advanced internal and external mobile collaboration initiatives that support important business functions like reporting, project management, and real-time collaboration on documents. Other tools that need to be considered by businesses for their remote workforces include mobile access to Microsoft Office applications, travel and expense management tools, CRM systems, HR business systems, and other business systems required on a company-wide or departmental basis. Mobile collaboration applications should be rolled out in alignment with corporate goals.
Another major issue for business is the level of mobile security being offered. Typically, if an employee does not have access to the mobile applications necessary for effective collaboration, they will install an app on their own, a phenomenon known as Bring Your Own Application (BYOA). Security can be severely compromised when this happens, so it is important for companies to understand what their mobile workers need, how it will be provisioned, and how security will be maintained.
Before the application and security decisions can be made, however, companies will have to decide if they will provide mobile devices to employees or have workers provide their own. Companies that provide devices will have more control over what can be downloaded to a device, security levels, and billing parameters. Once this decision is made, security can be provided in several ways:
- Virtual Private Network (VPN), which is currently the most prevalent method for securing mobile applications
- Master Device Management (MDM)
- Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)
VARs can play a major role in educating companies and their IT staffs about how to improve mobile enterprise collaboration. Once a decision is made, VARs can help IT play a central role in educating mobile employees on the tools available, including offering consulting and change management support.
How does your business view enterprise collaboration changing due to the increasing mobile workforce? Please comment below.