Mobility

Cracking the mobile collaboration code

If your workforce wants mobile collaboration, be prepared to crack your organization's mobile collaboration code first.

Today's changing workforce with more mobile and remote workers has meant changes in how enterprises collaborate between employees, partners and customers. When mobile devices are used as a primary or secondary collaboration tool, then you might have to crack the mobile collaboration code for your enterprise to make sure collaboration happens securely.

Cracking the mobile collaboration is about putting together the right technological and strategic elements to ensure that your users can collaborate on corporate documents securely, any time, from any device. The mobile collaboration code can vary between organizations.

Your enterprise's mobile collaboration code may include some or all of the following elements:

User identity

Your end users are at the heart of the mobile collaboration code and often result in the biggest challenges, although they're also set to be the bigger beneficiaries. I predict one of the keys to cracking the mobile collaboration code is going to be identity management where mobile security focuses on user identity versus the device.

We've already seen Microsoft make identity management part of their Enterprise Mobility Suite strategy. Okta, an identity management startup, is making some inroads with identity management among the cloud and mobile set. The company touts 4 million users, across 2,000-plus customers using 4,000-plus Okta-secured apps with tens of millions of devices on its network.

Ping Identity, another identity management vendor, is also on my radar as another technology that could help enterprises crack the mobile collaboration code.

Data ownership

Letting proprietary corporate data outside the firewall can give nightmares to even seasoned IT security professionals. The big golden key to cracking the mobile collaboration code is having a data ownership policy in place with the technology to enforce your data ownership policies on devices that are both provided by an organization and that are Bring Your Own Device (BYOD).

Determining data ownership should be part of an overall BYOD strategy. But if this isn't a consideration yet, then cracking your mobile collaboration may need to start at the secure workspace level designated for mobile users.

Metadata

Metadata, a set of data that specifies information about other data, plays a role in the underpinnings of every major cloud collaboration platform on the market right now. To crack the mobile collaboration code for your enterprise, all of that time you spent specifying document and page metadata can enable mobile users to retrieve documents quicker from a collaboration site using their mobile device.

Intelligent information discovery

One of the application features that should define the future of mobile collaboration and change user experience with mobile collaboration is going to be intelligence information discovery. While intelligent document discovery can be closely related to metadata, I expect it to break out as its own as mobile technology and cloud collaboration providers and third-party mobile collaboration app providers fight for relevancy.

You can expect to see leadership from Colligo, harmon.ie, and Huddle for intelligent document discovery from mobile apps. However, the release of Office Delve, an information discovery app (iOS) for Office 365 means we are just starting to hear from Microsoft in this key mobile collaboration category.

Secure mobile productivity apps

Secure mobile productivity apps are a continuously evolving category and integral to cracking the secure mobile collaboration code. While Microsoft's release of Office for iOS and later Android was truly game changing. I expect to see further integration with Enterprise Mobility Suite and Office 365 to develop further security improvements.

Another example of a secure mobile productivity app is the Good Secure Mobile Productivity Suite, which uses the Good Container to secure the perimeter around business apps and data. The apps also use centralized policy management to ensures only approved app-to-app data transfers are enabled.

Secure mobile content management

Secure mobile content management (MCM) may play a role in cracking the mobile collaboration code for some enterprises. There are a lot of vendors attacking this space from the likes of Cisco to the major enterprise mobility management (EMM) vendors. MCM solutions provide a layer of security over documents including encryption and policies.

Corporate vs. personal cloud

About a year ago, I was planning on writing about mobile cloud alternatives for Dropbox. I killed the idea when I came across a preponderance of cloud options. Ther were so many cloud options that I began to think there's a cottage industry out there doing website templates for cloud providers.

When you brush past the noise, there is a plentiful list of options for securing the cloud for mobile users. Dropbox and Box have both released corporate-grade solutions.

To get real though, the cloud vs. personal cloud component of the mobile collaboration code is where things can get messy. EMM platforms can provide encryption and policy management over documents and you should consider how an EMM solution could secure your documents if such a cloud setup is already part of your enterprise.

Final thoughts

If you are in the midst of cracking the mobile collaboration code for your enterprise you have to take into account all of the strategic, technology, and document requirements to create an appropriate and compliant solution that meets the needs for your mobile workforce.

What is your enterprise doing to crack the mobile collaboration code?

See also:

Colligo Engage challenges the mobile collaboration market

Enterprise mobility and Microsoft SharePoint: A status check

Mobile collaboration with the Huddle iOS app

Huddle for enterprise mobility and BYOD

About Will Kelly

Will Kelly is a freelance technical writer and analyst currently focusing on enterprise mobility, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), and the consumerization of IT. He has also written about cloud computing, Big Data, virtualization, project management ap...

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