Well-known Analyst firm Strategy Analytics predicts that the market of mobile enterprise business application will grow from $31 billion in 2012 to $61 billion in 2016. In other words, the size of mobile enterprise businesses will double in 4 years. That is a maddening growth. As we invest more time, effort on the strategies for mobility services, the eternal question emerges more strongly, are the organisations ready to provide what they must, to the workers, to enable true mobility computing?

In a study of extensive mobile collaboration, more than 1400 businesses and IT users responded. The results tell us that sending emails, sharing files and instant messengers from the mobile device don’t fulfil the need any longer. To enable organisation wide mobile collaboration, we must overcome new barriers set by the new demands. Only that will help us to increase productivity and collaboration.

In the study, it also emerges that mobile users are still struggling to access key business elements even after everything has moved to the cloud. The need to align the IT with the business needs has become so important that it is no longer a gap someone can really keep pending for the future. Only a joint approach by the businesses and IT side will help us to open the lock which is blocking the way to the future. In this blog, we will try to shed lights on these aspects of the findings of the report and reveal the strength, weaknesses, opportunities and threats which we have in our quest to enable to a truly mobile workforce.

Collaborative Productivity and not Personal Productivity

The first challenge is to change how the organisations look at mobile computing and its usage. Presently, the most companies are looking towards mobile computing as a mean to improve personal productive and not as a mean to improve team collaboration or productivity.

Presently, the companies are looking to empower the users to improve personal productivity including email functions, company datasheet checking and look at the directories. Almost all the IT guys and 4 out of every 5 business respondents in the survey said that their employees can easily access emails from their mobile devices. However, when it came to accessing business and production applications, the numbers dropped significantly. Only half of IT and only 2 out of 5 business respondents said that their employees can use business applications from a mobile device. While this gap is to be bridged in future, the discrepancy shows how our perception is skewed to personal productivity. The tilt is still towards personal productivity which means teamwork from mobile is still not a widely popular concept.

Awareness and Adoption Are Not Synonyms

The lack of a clear mobile strategy is clearly evident from the findings of the study as well as the immediate need to align the IT and business towards common goal. 4 out of every 5 IT respondent said that they have such a policy in the organisation while only half or less business respondents claimed that such a policy exists in their organisations.

When you consider this along with the previous point that only personal productivity, such as email and file sharing and instant chats, is stressed upon when talking about mobility solutions, the conclusion is bold and ubiquitous, if you build it, it doesn’t always work. If awareness of such a policy is really to be raised and the policy is to be enforced or brought to be in practice, IT must stop being the problem solving or helping department and take part in key business decisions and strategy creation. They should be the one enabling mobile enterprise solutions and support the business by training the employees on how to be more productive as a team using mobile devices.

Maturity Still Lacking, Outlook Positive

While most of the companies are empowering employees to increase personal productivity through mobile computing, 34 % companies are providing tools to employees which will help them in external collaboration for key business activities including, project management, financial forecasting or budgeting and real-time data collaboration. Moreover, the results also say that the availability of the tools of the latter type doesn’t necessarily mean the actual awareness of the same or the proper utilisation of those tools. There is at least a gap of 20 % between where the IT claims the availability while the business owners are also aware of the same.

Despite this awkward gap, half of the IT respondents stay hopeful that 2015 will be the year of mobile enterprise productivity. This is much larger a portion than the part which is claiming that it will be a year of enterprise disappointment. This outlook tells us that while the bridges among availability, awareness and utilisation are still to be built, the people involved are really optimistic about the sooner deployment of the same.

Microsoft Tools Leads the Way but Not Holistically

Microsoft SharePoint and Office 365 stays as the leaders in mobile enterprise collaboration tools, for desktop and mobile devices respectively. Half of the total respondents confessed using either or both of these. However, other Microsoft collaboration tools such as Lync and Yammer fell down the ranking to #4 and #8 respectively. This leads us to the conclusion that while Microsoft is leading in some cases, the company is yet to become the universal enterprise collaboration platform.

This also shows that there is no one-size-fits-all mobility solutions; either it doesn’t exist or if it does, it is not the answer to the needs of the companies. To be confined in one ecosystem is actually frightening the companies away from wholly committing to one vendor. True mobile computing might not come of age until we see some companies coming up with an umbrella solution or a unique way of keeping every user updated about the proceedings in the company across departments using software like Salesforce, SharePoint, Yammer, SAP or whatever the organisation might use.

Still Budding but Soon To Be Ubiquitous

As the closing conclusion, organisations must widen their gaze and look behind the horizon which we say see today. Enterprises must spend time in designing and creating multi-modal and real-time collaboration tools to streamline the efforts of the whole organisation towards the common goal and company mission. This will also help in collaborative decision making process in real-time. This collaboration must be seamless as well as consistently serving the most important data to the decision maker or the worker. If these major objectives are achieved, enterprise productivity will increase significantly as employees, decision makers, management and teams will be able to work in tandem. That is what matters the most at the end of the day, doesn’t it?