Mobile is big, particularly in the consumer space, but increasingly in the enterprise world. But what does it really mean in practice? What we’re seeing is two approaches being taken: the default approach (“it’s like the web, but on mobile”) and the really exciting approach (“we can make things work better using mobiles”).
Delivering content to mobiles
To date, the focus of the web (and most intranets) has been on content. A lot of work has gone into establishing effective publishing processes, designing usable sites, and dealing with browser and accessibility issues. There are several whole industries related to this stuff.
Not surprisingly, when it comes to mobile devices, the default approach is to apply the same thinking … but to mobile. This looks at issues such as:
- responsive page designs that will adapt automatically to match the device being used
- designing sites for touch screens and small form-factors
- filtering and tailoring content to target mobile devices
- mobile search
There are many situations where this approach can produce some great quick-wins. The simple act of enabling access to intranets on a mobile device, particularly on tablets, can be transformative in its own right.
But it’s still missing the the real opportunities.
Tasks and processes on mobiles
Fundamentally, staff don’t want their whole 5,000+ page intranet on their mobile devices. It’s hard enough to find what you want on a 21″ inch monitor, let alone on a small screen (or even a tablet).
The real game is delivering tasks and processes on mobile devices, the starting point of which is identifying the six tasks that staff need when they’re away from their desks.
For all sorts of staff, particularly those in the field or on the frontline, mobile functionality can completely transform their working lives. Instead of filling in paper forms when in the field, and then typing them in when they get back to the depot, they can obtain information and complete forms electronically, in real-time, wherever they are.
This is about:
- taking a task- and process-centric approach to designing mobile solutions
- delivering mobile solutions, not mobile content
- streamlining business tasks
- focusing on frontline and operational needs
This has been a long time coming, but the pieces are now all in place. Devices are fairly cheap, development is pretty quick, and mobile data is near universal.
Personally, I’m hoping to see some great entries into this year’s Intranet Innovation Awards (submissions close on May 31) that demonstrate how mobiles can reshape field working. We’ll see! In the meantime, watch this space for more thinking and examples…