By Dean Guida, President and Chief Executive Officer, Infragistics
Remote working is an increasingly familiar part of business life. Companies are naturally keen to promote a more flexible, mobile way of working, but it’s not always obvious how companies can continue to share information, brainstorm new ideas, or update entire teams when there is no opportunity to ‘catch up over a coffee’ or a regular team meeting to attend.
Businesses that want to create a collaborative culture whilst supporting a mobile strategy obviously need to ensure that their employees have access to up-to-date information about, for example, customer enquiries or changes to product pricing. However the real benefit of collaboration lies in encouraging employees to discuss difficult projects, to provide feedback about training programmes and to seek advice from senior managers about problem customers whilst, for example, they are out of the office and using their smart phone or tablet.
Companies need to find new ways to help employees solve problems, instead of paper and pen and traditional brainstorming methods. Virtual whiteboards, instant messaging and peer reviews across the enterprise are the way forward as are shared calendars, video conferences and the ability to archive/retrieve project plans and other deliverables from any location.
Many organisations looking to encourage collaboration have turned to enterprise tools such as Microsoft SharePoint, confident that it provides a central resource for sharing and accessing documents, lists and libraries. Unfortunately for the growing number of mobile workers, however, SharePoint is not well supported on mobile devices. This means that users cannot upload or edit documents in SharePoint. Nor can they retrieve documents for later offline viewing. Also, the SharePoint browser touch experience is not great for retrieving information on the fly which discourages its use as an information resource, let alone as a collaboration tool.
An added complication is the need to provide a secure mobile platform on which to share business intelligence and to promote discussion. Companies quite rightly need to be sure that business critical or sensitive content cannot be accessed, viewed or passed on to anyone outside of the organisation.
According to a January 2012 report1, 71% of businesses believe mobile devices have caused an increase in security incidents, citing significant concerns about the loss and privacy of sensitive information stored on employee devices, including corporate email (79%), customer data (47%) and network login credentials (38%).
Without an enterprise-wide solution for mobilising SharePoint and clear security policies in place, users will create their own solution, often copying and exporting sensitive documents out of SharePoint to less secure media such as email and USB drives, even though they realise that this makes the documents insecure.
The best way to make the most of SharePoint as a collaboration tool in a mobile environment is to give users an enterprise mobile app like SharePlus which provides access to all the features of SharePoint on their mobile device, whilst making security totally transparent. SharePlus delivers an intuitive and engaging native mobile experience that drives collaboration, not hindering or blocking it.
The key to collaboration out of the office is making it easy for users to adopt security policies which means automating authentication, insisting on passcode locks and being able to remote wipe data from a smartphone or tablet to prevent security breaches, amongst other things.
The aim after all is to increase productivity whilst maintaining privacy.