I’ve been a Kindle owner for some time now. It’s a device that perfectly meets my reading needs in an understated but elegant way. It’s also a great example of what enterprise mobility should be aiming for.
Within organisations, many staff are now consciously choosing which device to use in their working day. Do I need a laptop for this trip, or can I just take a tablet? What device should I take into this meeting? I’m visiting a potential client, what will I take?
We’re calling this mobile devices as PC alternative. It’s about doing the normal “office suite” activities, but on a tablet or phone instead. This includes:
- viewing documents
- editing documents
- giving presentations
(Our earlier comic on mobility in meetings provides a number of other real-world needs.)
What the Kindle teaches us
Most nights, I read my Kindle at night before sleep. During the day, it sits on my beside table.
If I want to keep reading the book during the day, I can open the Kindle app on my phone, and it automatically syncs to the page I’m up to. I can read for 15mins on the train, and then continue reading on the Kindle app on my Mac over lunch at the office.
The process of synchronisation is seamless and invisible. The book is associated with “me” (stored in the cloud), not with a single device.
This is something that Martin White has been talking about for a while: the need for similar synchronisation between enterprise devices.
Peter starts writing the report at his desk on Monday morning. Monday afternoon he’s in back-to-back meetings, a number of which raise issues to be included in the report. He opens the document on his phone, and adds a few notes to the end.
Tuesday morning sees Martin at the airport, flying to a client meeting. While in the airport lounge, he pulls out his tablet, and roughs out the structure for the remaining report chapters.
By Thursday, he’s back in the office, with some quiet time. Opening the document on his laptop, he finishes off a first draft of the document, and shares it with his colleagues for their input. Who read it on a variety of devices, in a variety of locations, adding their comments and suggestions.
We’re a long way from this at the moment, with many staff secretly installing tools like Dropbox (in violation of enterprise policies), or emailing documents to their personal iPads.
Enterprise synchronisation between devices
It’s easy to describe what we need: seamless access and synchronisation between all devices used by staff, wherever and whenever. In the short-term, a much simpler mechanism to edit server-based files on mobile devices would be sufficient.
This has to be more than the clunky “mobile access” apps that currently exist, such as various the “SharePoint for iPad” apps. Perhaps this will be more easily met when enterprise storage moves to the cloud? Or maybe the Microsoft Surface will crack this problem?
Until we address this synchronisation issue, there are no easy answers for staff wanting to use a tablet instead of a desktop or laptop.
What approaches are your staff taking?