Home Customer Engagement Social and Mobile must be part of ALL Digital Solutions

Social and Mobile are two of the biggest topics in collaboration right now. Just witness the recent Gartner Portals, Content and Collaboration Summit, where two of the four tracks were dedicated to social and mobile. Two additional tracks focusing on user experience and governance had numerous sessions addressing social and mobile. But perhaps it is time to quit thinking about mobile and social separately and start thinking about them as part of a complete experience for the user.

Many of us have seen the staggering predictions about the growth of mobile:

  • In Q1 2013, smartphone shipments were higher than traditional cellphone shipments [i]
  • Tablets are poised to out-ship PCs by the end of 2013 [ii]
  • By 2018, 70% of mobile employees will conduct work on personal smart devices [iii]

With the staggering predictions about increasing mobile use, a comprehensive solution cannot be created without addressing mobile usage and the mobile experience. Mobile should not be below the cut, optional, or even pushed to Phase II.  All solutions should include strong consideration for mobile because that is what users demand.

Solution providers should not be proud when they support mobile – they should recognize they are seriously behind the times when their solution isn’t properly mobile enabled.

At the Gartner Summit, several of the sessions in the social track focused on how social functionality is now embedded in many applications. Just a few years ago, social capabilities were available only through a handful of specialized providers like Jive, Yammer, and NewsGator. Now it seems that every platform in the enterprise claims some social functionality. CRM, ERP, Document Management, ECM, WCM, and other systems all contain social features. The question is, how does all this social capability impact the user experience? If a user has to go to three, four, or even five separate applications to use dedicated social functions, will the user become frustrated, and will adoption lag?  In most cases the answer is yes.

Two ways to address the proliferation of social-enabled applications is to integrate and aggregate social information for the user.

Integrating social information means that social functionality is integrated throughout the user experience. A user should not have to go to a specific location or application to be social – it should be woven into all areas. At Tahoe, we often have discussions with clients who are struggling with adoption of either their intranet or social collaboration environment (or both). The problem is often that there are multiple environments competing for users’ attention, with neither one providing the full experience the user desires. Intranets, social collaboration hubs, and business applications need to come together.

Aggregating social information is the act of pulling social information from disparate applications into a single interface so it can be sorted, filtered, searched, and generally consumed in the way the user wants to consume it. If the user wants to see only information from one source, they can do that – but it is not forced by having separate interfaces for different sources of social content. NewsGator has moved in the direction of social aggregation in SharePoint with Lookout, and other providers are doing the same.

Mobile and social are everywhere these days.  These aren’t trends that will go away – both are pervasive enough that we should quit thinking of them separately and instead think about them being core to all solutions. Are you thinking this way?

[i] International Data Corp.
[ii] Gartner
[iii] Gartner

An expert in SharePoint and Enterprise Collaboration strategy, Dave has delivered SharePoint business solutions ranging from dynamic websites to a program to capture and track employee ideas. Dave is a regular distance and event runner and is always looking for new endurance adventures.

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