According to IDC, mobile workers will account for almost three-quarters of the U.S. workforce by 2020, making corporate collaboration both exciting and challenging. In the early days of the business mobility revolution, one device symbolized the new paradigm — the BlackBerry. However, with the company’s recent statements that it will “pivot to software,” many business users — particularly in the finance and government sectors — are now preparing to transition to a new mobile platform.
Switching from a BlackBerry to a new Android smartphone is a straightforward process, but the biggest change comes from getting used to a new operating system, different workflows and a whole new ecosystem of corporate applications.
For those making the change, here are five tips for better corporate collaboration:
1. Find the Right Messaging Apps for Your Business
One of the most common tasks carried out on a smartphone is messaging. Gone are the days of just email or text messaging. Today, there’s an array of different messaging apps to choose from, such as Google Hangouts, WhatsApp or more enterprise-focused apps like Slack.
For those used to BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), the change won’t be too drastic. But in order to ensure mobile workers make the most of instant messaging, companies need to have a coordinated approach when implementing new messaging apps. They should consider which apps best fit the needs of the business, and provide training to employees to make sure everyone knows how (and how not) to use them.
2. Share Files on Cloud-based Systems
At the heart of corporate collaboration is being able to work with your colleagues in real time — no matter where they are in the world. To do this, you’ll need to get used to working with cloud-based systems like Google Docs, Dropbox and Box, which enable you to work on one document with multiple colleagues at the same time.
However, because it’s all based in the cloud, you’ll need a constant internet connection to access the documents. While this is typically no problem for office-based workers, if you’re on the road, it’s important to ensure you have a solid internet connection at all times — particularly if you have a deadline approaching.
3. Utilize Project Management Solutions
Making sure that everyone knows what’s going on within your team is vital if mobile collaboration is to improve productivity. That’s why employing a project management tool like Basecamp or Trello is so important when collaborating on a project remotely. These project management solutions allow teams to find all the information they need in one place.
A vital tip for using these services is to remember time zones. Mobile workforces means people work in different parts of the country and the world, and you should keep that in mind when trying to connect with a colleague. Using the automated calendar invites within these tools — which automatically check for time zones — is an easy way to avoid this problem.
4. Take Advantage of Videoconferencing Tools
One of the main benefits stemming from the advent of smartphone cameras and widespread, high-speed connectivity is the ability to talk to people face-to-face, whether they’re on the road or on the other side of the planet. While videoconferencing has been available for many years, using a smartphone to connect with co-workers face-to-face offers new flexibility and freedom for the mobile worker.
Corporate applications focused on videoconferencing are now widely available, meaning you no longer have to be at your desk to participate. There are many fully fledged solutions available at a cost, but there are also low-cost solutions, such as Google Hangouts, which could work just as well for your teams.
5. Prioritize Security
The downside of using your smartphone as your main computing device is that it’s becoming a highly prized target for hackers who are seeking access to your corporate network and personal information. Therefore, it’s vital that security education and software features heavily in any company’s mobile collaboration plans, particularly in industries with an abundance of sensitive data, such as finance or government, where ignoring data security can have catastrophic consequences. One way to do this is ensuring employee devices are on a secure platform like Samsung Knox, which provides multilayered hardware and software security. Another easy way for companies to secure their employees’ devices is by managing the apps that can be installed on them through the use of corporate app stores. This is a good idea for apps that access sensitive data, but companies should balance this with allowing employees to access the apps they’re accustomed to using from traditional app stores.
By not utilizing new technology and offering flexible working arrangements, companies will be missing out on big opportunities for growth, and will lose out to competitors more in tune to the way the business world is changing.
The launch of Workplace by Facebook is another collaboration tool that’s making waves in the enterprise mobility world.