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Mobile has long since become a ubiquitous part of our daily lives as individuals. Within organisations, it is widely recognised that mobile devices will soon have a transformational impact.
This wave of change has yet to fully break in the enterprise space, and the true nature of the change is still being understood. This has meant that many organisations are still feeling their way when it comes to enterprise mobility.
When it comes to intranet redesign projects, however, mobile is quickly becoming an assumed element for all organisations.
If not now, then soon
There is a palpable sense of anticipation when it comes to enterprise mobility. The massive changes wrought by mobile in the consumer space are going to have an equally large impact within organisations.
Yet many organisations have yet to fully jump into staff-facing mobile solutions. This is not surprising considering the relatively long lead-times for technology changes, the challenges of gaining political buy-in and the complex project approvals in many firms.
Major intranet redesigns, however, typically only occur every three to four years, and are often triggered by a change in technology platforms.
While mobile may not be an urgent priority this year, it’s likely to be demanded next year, or soon after. This means that if mobile isn’t included in the current redesign, it will have to be retrofitted afterwards (tricky and costly), or included in the next major design project (too late!).
For this reason, some element of mobile support is rapidly becoming an assumed part of all current redesign projects.
Take a measured approach
While ‘mobile support’ is now a bullet point in the project plan, what does it really mean in practice? As outlined in the previous article Three ways to deliver mobile solutions, there are many approaches that can be taken. Which one to choose?
Project teams need to take a measured approach, that balances a number of key factors:
- staff needs, including key tasks and mobile devices used
- business priorities
- technology uncertainties and constraints
- ongoing rapid changes in the mobile space
Projects must find the balance between tactical and pragmatic deliverables, and longer-term strategic objectives.
Start by understanding needs
As discussed in the article What six things do staff want on their mobile devices?, it’s unlikely that field staff are browsing through all 5,000 pages of intranet content on a smartphone.
Spend time with staff, understanding how they work, what devices they’re likely to use, and the environments they work in.
That allows intranet functionality to be prioritised according to:
- major staff groups (eg field vs office staff)
- device types (eg phone vs tablet)
- delivery mechanisms (eg HTML5 vs native app)
In particular, it is often very illuminating to write up a simple table showing the content and functionality that is likely to be used on different devices. This will often quickly clarify what approach should be taken, and where efforts should be focused.
Don’t get caught up in the jargon
It’s easy to get lost in discussions relating to the latest mobile approaches, such as ‘responsive web design’ vs ‘adaptive web design’.
In many cases, one approach taken in isolation is unlikely to meet all needs. For example, simply delivering a responsive intranet template for the site as a whole can often fall down when delivering to smaller devices.
Instead, by driving decisions from an understanding of staff needs, business priorities and technology constraints, a great mobile solution can be delivered within the redesign project.