According to research firm IDC, the number of mobile workers worldwide is expected to reach 1.3 billion (37.2 percent of the global workforce) by 2015, with more than 153 million of those mobile workers in the United States and Canada.
While many organizations now allow employees to use their own mobile devices (smartphones, tablets) at or for work (BYOD), getting workers to regularly communicate and collaborate, with each other as well as the office, via their smartphones or tablets still poses a challenge.
So what can you do to make mobile computing attractive and easy for employees and foster mobile collaboration? CIO.com asked dozens of mobile computing and work collaboration experts to find out. Below are their top eight tips for improving mobile collaboration.
Ensure cross-device/platform compatibility."Make it easy for employees to collaborate and share files on any device -- PC, Mac, iPad, Android, BlackBerry, etc.," says Ryan Kalember, chief product officer at WatchDox, the provider of enterprise file sharing and mobile content management solutions. "If employees aren't able to access, work with and collaborate on a document with their preferred device, mobility falls short. Having to convert file types or use multiple apps to edit or annotate a document disrupts workflows and decreases productivity."
"Make sure your office workers and mobile workers have compatible software," says Peter Poulin, vice president of Marketing, Motion Computing, a provider of integrated mobile technologies. "Mobile workers and office workers need to share reports, customer files, invoices and work orders across devices. In an age of BYOD, one can't assume all devices will support the same software."
Embrace video conferencing and video chat."The cost of video conferencing has come down significantly," says Kenneth Leung, director of Enterprise Marketing, Avaya, a provider of business communication solutions. "In fact, users can download a video conferencing client or app on virtually any device, smartphone, tablet, laptop or PC/MAC, and with a single click simply enter the video conference from where they sit," he says. "No need to go to a special room or have special equipment."
And if your budget doesn't allow for an enterprise video conferencing product or service, "[hold] meetings on Google Hangouts, which allows many people to conference at once and will switch to highlight whoever is talking at the moment," says Kiki Schirr, Marketing Director at Fittr, the developer of mobile workout and fitness tracking apps.
Host a virtual meeting room (or rooms)."Collaboration often happens unexpectedly, which is why collaboration from a mobile device is beneficial," says Rocky Mitarai, senior product marketing manager for Adobe Connect, Adobe's mobile and web-conferencing solution.
"To ensure immediate mobile collaboration, companies should deploy a mobile web-conferencing solution that offers a persistent virtual meeting room with a unique URL that is available 24/7," Mitarai says. "Having a readily available virtual meeting room eliminates the time necessary to create a room and makes it easier for meeting participants to join, knowing they don't have to keep track of constantly changing meeting room URLs."