Several of today’s technology developments affect the market for mobile technology and the ways end-user organizations implement collaboration solutions. These include the rise of cloud-based platforms, the mobile collaboration mechanisms increasingly built into enterprise applications, and the integration of mobile capabilities with enterprise social networks.
On-Premise vs. Cloud Solutions
Enterprise mobile collaboration solutions are available as software for deployment on premise as well as in the form of cloud-based platforms from a number of providers, including Cisco, IBM, Microsoft (Yammer), SAP, Avaya, Box, Aastra, NEC, ShoreTel, Alcatel-Lucent, and AT&T.
Like every other category of enterprise solutions, the cloud is having a profound effect on how organizations implement mobile technology in general. Over the next 12-18 months, we can expect to see the use of cloud-based mobile collaboration platforms increase in popularity among end-user organizations. This is due to their lower-cost entry to adoption and their ability to support mobile workers regardless of their location. The latter is especially appealing when it comes to providing the architecture and resources necessary for supporting more comprehensive mobile collaboration capabilities like video and Web conferencing applications, both of which can place heavy demands on corporate networks and inhouse IT resources (see “Taming the Video Bandwidth Hog“).
Mobile Collaboration “Under the Hood”
The enterprise software providers have been building mobile functionality into, or alongside of, their enterprise software tools and platforms for several years now; more recently, this has come to incorporate mobile collaboration features. This includes ERP applications (SAP, Oracle), CRM systems (Salesforce), and BI platforms (IBM/Cognos, SAP BusinessObjects, MicroStrategy, etc.).
The enterprise players are also making acquisitions of mobile collaboration providers. For instance, in December 2013, Cisco bought Collaborate. And back in June 2012, Microsoft acquired Yammer, which it has been steadily working to integrate into other Microsoft products, including Office 365. Expect these trends to ramp up over the next 12 months, with mobile collaboration capabilities increasingly becoming another available feature of enterprise applications.
Due to the various product options and technology developments, clients have told me that they face a dilemma when it comes to choosing a mobile collaboration solution. Should they decide to go with one of the newer cloud-based collaboration providers or opt for a possibly less friendly collaboration platform from an enterprise player? (When it comes to determining user “friendliness” of mobile collaboration platforms, in addition to featuring an intuitive user interface (UI), a solution should also support online training capabilities.)
Mobile Collaboration Integrating with Enterprise Social Networks
Employees naturally want to be able to use their mobile devices to connect with the enterprise social network to collaborate with colleagues, exchange comments, and access and share documents. In addition, integration of mobile collaboration tools with the enterprise social network offers a useful way for organizations to harvest employee feedback in order to determine what workers like and dislike about their mobile collaboration tools.
To meet this demand, mobile collaboration providers are developing their own social integration capabilities as well as partnering with enterprise social network providers. A good example is Box, which has partnered with enterprise social networking platform provider TIBCO’s Tibbr.
Over the next 18 months, we should expect to see an increased focus by companies on integrating mobile capabilities with their enterprise social networks.