Beyond ‘Reach’ and ‘Response’: Relationships – The Third Leg of Enterprise Mobility

The recent surge in mobile technologies is changing the way we do business and communicate internally in our organizations. While businesses continue to struggle in understanding the implications and benefits of increasing mobile usage within the organization, the shift is part of a larger trend – a trend of increasing the level of employee involvement from the bottom up. Today, corporations need its employees to take a more proactive role -for example, they want their line employees to relay information back in a meaningful way, engineers to share best practices, and managers to work closer together in cross-functional initiatives, etc 

Traditionally, mobility has been embraced within enterprises because of its two key attributes that increase employee bottom-up involvement : Reach and Response. Reach enables companies to reach out to employees like never before. It enables communication with the sales team in the field with important information. Response enables  employees  to dynamically respond to developing situations. The combination of the two increased the velocity at which business is conducted.

But just being able to Reach out widely and Respond quickly is not quite enough for companies to get the competitive advantage necessary for today’s market; Relationships need to be considered. It is the Relationships forged amongst employees that will ultimately realize the promise of bottom-up involvement. In search of building lasting relationships with and amongst its employees, companies are increasingly looking to social collaboration technologies inspired from the likes of Facebook and Twitter. It is not uncommon to browse a corporate intranet today and find some form of sharing, liking, commenting, following and re-tweeting features.

The Third Leg of Mobility

If Facebook were built today, it would be a mobile app – James Pearce, Head of Mobile Developer Relations for Facebook

 Similar to Reach and Response, Relationships is also best served mobile. People are increasingly interacting with social media through their mobile phones and tablets. Some commentators have indeed gone as far as to say that social is the killer app on mobile or it is the killer app for convergence. Facebook ended 2011 with 432 million mobile monthly active users(MAUs), which is over 50% of its total user base of 845 million monthly active users. This is a whopping 76% year-over-year growth in the mobile market.  13.4% of the 432 million users (or 58 million) access the site only from their mobile device.

It is not very surprising if you think about it. Social features are more informal, and things like device notifications are much more suited for collaborative work than say, emails. Mobile phones provide the delicate balance between information sharing and intrusiveness that make them the right channel for social communications. Facebook’s recent acquisition of Instagram is also to a large part a testament to the advent of mobile-centricity in social networking. As more and more mobile-centric features such as photos, voice and others become mainstream, mobile and social will come closer and closer together.

Mobility has had a somewhat precarious existence within enterprises, and has been limited to only critical functions that could exploit its Reach and Response abilities (evidence being the popularity of RIM’s Blackberry devices and services). To go well beyond these basic benefits, enterprises need to use mobility to build strong Relationships amongst users. Using mobility to expand their collaboration portals – like having employee profiles, enabling following, alerts and sharing – would be a good start. Mobility, for its part, just got a third leg to stand on its own within the Enterprise.

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