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Enterprise Collaborative Applications Are Becoming More Available

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Business Communication and Collaboration Strategies Are Increasingly Incorporating Mobility

Recent technological improvements in the enterprise have led to the use of collaborative solutions beyond the traditional business phone system. This is largely because the proliferation of mobile devices has allowed employees to access mission-critical applications, including voice and other collaborative tools, from virtually anywhere. As consumerization trends continue to have an impact on the corporate landscape, executives will be forced to support mobile initiatives or risk not being able to attract and retain top talent.

Gartner analysts recently reported that most collaborative tools in the enterprise will be available on desktops, smartphones, tablets and other platforms by 2016, with no particular device rising as superior. This is extremely beneficial for organizations that need to be as efficient as possible and cannot necessarily afford any lapses in productivity.

At the same time, there are no general guidelines as to how organizations should go about implementing mobile initiatives. As a result, many companies are struggling to capture the full potential of mobile strategies, largely due to fragmentation issues and a lack of standardization, Gartner noted.

"Empowering workers with mobile collaboration capabilities through smart devices, personal cloud sharing and mobile apps is a smart move for organizations to innovate in the workplace and stay competitive. Nevertheless, a number of challenges can arise from piecemeal, poorly-architected implementations. Successful deployments of mobile collaboration will need an analysis of business requirements - understanding the potential risks and restrictions while assessing existing investments and obsolescence trends," said Monica Basso, research vice president at Gartner.

However, analysts predict that there is change on the horizon, as companies will likely develop more comprehensive and effective mobile projects in the coming years.

A Necessary Change of Pace

For the most part, enterprise mobility initiatives are currently designed with a single purpose in mind. While these goals range from improving access to critical resources to supporting a remote workforce, depending on the company, the general consensus from analysts is that the ongoing maturity of the mobile landscape as a whole will allow firms to build more efficient collaborative strategies within the next three to five years, Gartner reported.

There are many reasons behind experts predicting improvement in the coming years, including the fact that mobile gadgets and applications are evolving, the cloud is expanding its reach and bring your own device (BYOD) is gaining momentum. These trends are expected to transform the enterprise communications landscape as a whole.

"In the past, collaboration on mobile devices meant interaction through wireless messaging and voice calls. Today, smartphones and tablets have larger screens, touch-based user interfaces, location support, broad network connectivity, enhanced cameras and video support, voice over IP and so on. Such features enable a range of applications - both traditional and new - for employees to better communicate, collaborate, socialize, create and consume content," Basso asserted.

A recent CompTIA survey of more than 500 IT and business executives highlighted similar findings, revealing that companies have only breached the tip of the iceberg by embracing BYOD and other mobile projects.

Exploring the Mobile Iceberg

CompTIA noted that the consumer is often the main driver behind most technological endeavors carried out in the workplace, with the company itself acting as a passenger along for the ride who is hoping to benefit by traveling in the same direction. At the same time, the inherent nature of enterprise mobility means that IT professionals do not have the same control over their technological landscape as they once did.

Fortunately, losing control doesn't need to be a problem if decision-makers address management concerns and best practices from the beginning. By allowing employees to leverage personal smartphones and other devices to access enterprise VoIP systems, the organization as a whole will become more prosperous and efficient - if individuals follow the proper protocol when using those applications.

CompTIA revealed that choosing a device strategy is often considered to be the first step of many in an organization's pursuit of mobility. Rather than allowing a free reign of platform and application procurement, decision-makers should set some boundaries and parameters that will limit the workforce's ability to inadvertently deploy unsafe or inefficient services.

Additionally, executives will find that the mobile landscape requires some internal restructuring, especially when employees do not necessarily understand the difference between current workforce needs and the demands that will be required in two years, CompTIA noted. Analysts highlighted how enterprise mobility is a large challenge for companies today, though it will be an important stepping stone for enterprise optimization in the coming years.

Progressive decision-makers need to plan ahead and create a roadmap that identifies potential obstacles, challenges and opportunities presented by mobile initiatives. Rather than taking an ad-hoc stab at these endeavors, executives need to consider their options and find the most effective route to success.