Collaboration in the always-on digital world - Business Works
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Collaboration in the always-on digital world

by Annekathrin Hase, Director of Marketing and Strategy, MindLink Software The use of mobile and tablet devices in the workplace has exploded in recent years. It is predicted that by 2015 the number of mobile workers will surpass 1.3 billion.

As a result of this, 60% of British employees now use apps on mobile devices for work-related activities, raising questions for employers on how they can capitalise on this new era of mobile hyper-tasking. More than one in five of workers are thought to use dedicated department-specific business apps, yet the majority of employees still rely on consumer apps such as Facebook and WhatsApp, which presents obvious security concerns, says Annekathrin Hase, Director of marketing and strategy at MindLink Software.

Mobile phones have become a vital part of personal and professional day-to-day life. Being able to facilitate people's need to visit clients, partners, work from home or hot-desk and still be able to work seamlessly and unhindered is challenging in the modern 'always-on', digital business age yet more important than ever.

the way we communicate is constantly evolving

The way we communicate is constantly evolving and, rightly or wrongly, using a mobile phone (whether for making a call, e-mailing, texting or connecting through a smartphone app) is becoming the most popular and convenient platform to make business critical decisions.

Central to this change is the rise in the use and popularity of apps. Research firm Gartner's latest market forecasts estimated a phenomenal 103bn mobile apps were downloaded in 2013: a 59.4% rise on 2012's total.

With this in mind, business leaders must be at the forefront of leveraging the plethora of apps available for their enterprises and ensure that when employees are sharing sensitive information via these channels they are doing so securely. Every business is different and what works for one enterprise won't always work for another, which is why it is vital for business leaders to engage with staff, to determine which apps they are currently using and offer a similar yet safer and more compliant alternative.

Let's look at an example. Chat apps, for instance, have been around for as long as the digital revolution and are now used by virtually every consumer. But, it is only now that they are being discovered and effectively used within companies. The term 'Enterprise Chat' refers to a collective, business-critical approach to digital communication, which has developed in the modern business world and should be central to all firms' working processes and strategies.

Unlike their consumer equivalent or, indeed e-mail, dedicated 'Enterprise Chat' apps discourage social chatter and ensure employees stay focused on the task in hand, while still maintaining a core 'chat' functionality of fast, short, text-based messages which people are familiar with and enjoy. This means they are ideal for discussing business-critical conversations and dealing with an issue across multiple devices.

With more and more people working on their mobiles or tablets, the BYOD (bring your own device) trend is making a whole host of additional communication channels available to the workforce.

Many smartphone apps are also now natively available on tablets or have desktop equivalents, which only enhances employees' temptation to use them whilst working. According to Gartner, three quarters (75%) of companies say there are more than twice as many personal devices connecting to corporate networks than there were two years ago, proving more and more people are turning to modern methods when it comes to communicating.

key concerns ... security, compliance and integration

However, the use of social messaging apps, such as Viber or WhatsApp, for business conversations and knowledge sharing is simply not sophisticated enough. The key concerns for any business when it comes to apps, or any new technology for that matter, are security, compliance and integration and apps designed with consumers in mind generally fail to meet these strict requirements.

Arguably, the most important consideration for any new business app is whether it can be incorporated into a company's DNA. Will it meet security and compliance needs? And can associated data be routed into organisations existing long-term storage and archive solutions?

Businesses need to find the right balance between providing employees with apps that enable them to get their jobs done more easily and more efficiently, while also maintaining a sense of control, without intruding into employees' day-to-day tasks.

Receiving and distributing information via multiple devices and channels can be confusing and time consuming. If employers invest in their technology infrastructures and streamline communication into a single, capable channel that can be accessed via smartphone apps, as well as on a desktop computer, it will revolutionise their business.

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