Monday, October 20, 2014

The 5-Step Roadmap to Mobile Collaboration

Mobile Collaboration
I talk and write a lot about enterprise collaboration and collaboration tools.  Workforces are becoming increasingly mobile, globalized and include members who work remotely.  This requires an increasing focus on how teams of people (employees, partners, customers, advisors, contractors, etc.) can work closer together in virtualized workplaces.  I asked's VP of Product Strategy, David Lavenda to share, in this article, some of his insights and strategies.

Enterprises can no longer ignore what it takes to get the job done on the go, and must accept that reaching their end goal of mobile empowerment starts with a comprehensive roadmap. While business users are eager to collaborate on the go, having IT jump straight into the deep end with a new company-wide mobile collaboration tools is a surefire way to fail.

The greatest enterprise asset is a worker’s attention. If a tool fails to capture that attention, it will be of little use. True mobile enterprise collaboration at both the cultural and technical levels can only be achieved once companies are able to marry the choice of collaboration tools with specific business needs. Getting there starts with a clear roadmap:

1. Identify the killer use cases that produce real business results – IT innovators must start by identifying business use cases that provide demonstrable ROI. IT leaders in industries that have mobile field workers – such as construction, transportation and emergency services – will have the easiest time formulating these cases. For example, provisioning offline access to standard operating procedures for emergency response personnel has clear-cut benefits. These personnel must often work quickly to save lives, including work in remote areas where network coverage is unreliable. Saving more lives through offline remote access to complex operating procedures is a very easy way to measure ROI.

Another compelling example is providing remote access to construction plans, schematics and blueprints to contractors, architects and construction workers. Engineers and contractors frequently need to make changes to construction plans while onsite. If they are able to make edits in the field, they are less likely to make errors or reference out-of-date documents thanks to faster in-the-field maneuverability. Find your company’s use cases and work towards implementing technology that will directly lead to those uses – do not wait for the technology to tell you how to use it.

2. Agree on the right tools to enable your business use cases – Once you’ve identified a killer use case, work as a team to decide which tools will best benefit your cause. Is there a need for on-premise documents to be accessible to field workers away from the office? If not, then maybe an Office 365 implementation is the way to go. Are workers frequently sending revised copies of documents back and forth, causing email to become cluttered and difficult to follow? Then maybe an Office 365 implementation with a Yammer site will provide the overhead and document collaboration capabilities required. Whatever the need is, make sure that a consensus is reached and that it is tied to a key business use case – if people are going into the implementation already dismissing the solution, it’s sure to be dead on arrival.

3. Never lose sight of the user experience – Remember that the most valuable enterprise asset is an employee’s attention, and so any mobile collaboration project will live or die based on its ability to capture that attention. Providing a more feature-rich tool does not always mean that tool will be used, as changing user behavior is often the most difficult aspect of any project that seeks to implement new technology. From the start, the user experience must be a key component of your initiative. Not just the experience of the solution itself, but also the experience of its implementation.

4. Create an initial pilot followed by an onboarding program – Before going the whole nine yards and pushing mobile collaboration solutions out to your company, it is important to test the products on a smaller scale. This can be done by inviting a select few, likely those who are interested in new technologies, to pilot the program, provide feedback on what worked and what didn’t and, ultimately, champion the new implementation. From there the program should expand in scope to invite leaders from different departments to test among themselves, providing further feedback on a larger scale.

As an example, NIBC, a bank client of’s, singled out individuals who excelled with the company’s new Office 365/ solution, and tasked these individuals with leading informational learning sessions for the company. The sessions were followed by onboarding sessions for the entire company, and the solution was finally rolled out on a department-by-department basis to iron out issues and gain support along the way. With this strategy, the bank achieved near complete adoption of their solution. Nothing was left to chance – everyone was ready to go when the solution rolled out in earnest, and champions from each department were available to help with any issues that arose during and after the rollout.

5. Never stop learning, teaching and analyzing – Just because the implementation went smoothly and adoption soared does not mean department leaders should sit back and call it a day. In fact, if high adoption is achieved, it is likely because people enjoy the product and would likely benefit from learning more about it on a regular basis. Continue to schedule learning sessions where employees who best understand the product can share information, tricks and tools they’ve learned with others. Also consider analyzing how individuals in the company are using the solution and drawing on that data to make sure it continues to meet the company’s needs.
X Marks the Spot on the Mobile Collaboration Roadmap

Enterprise mobility initiatives enabling personal productivity and collaboration have been gaining steady momentum, but without the right roadmap from both a cultural and technology standpoint, the end results typically fall flat.

Despite its many obvious advantages, new technology does not equate to easy implementation. To arrive at the desired end-state of mobile collaboration in the enterprise – where employees and mobile workers alike can get work done without being tethered to their desks – a roadmap is a powerful tool. With a concrete roadmap tied to key business objectives, you will have a guide to navigate to the “New World” of true mobile collaboration.

Kevin Benedict
Writer, Speaker, Senior Analyst
Digital Transformation, EBA, Center for the Future of Work Cognizant
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***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility and digital transformation analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.