Mobile content management (MCM) is becoming more important as a platform for enterprises as mobility and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) provide the technology framework for today's workforce. Naturally, this means that the market is quickly flooding with MCM solutions from mainstream collaboration tools vendors and mobile app developers. Even the mobile device management (MDM) players are getting into the act.
I must also note that my recent research into MCM also shows it is converging with mobile collaboration in both product roadmaps and how enterprise mobile users are interacting with corporate content from their mobile devices.
I put my analysis of MCM in front of Yaacov Cohen, CEO of harmon.ie, a collaboration tools provider focusing on Office 365.
Stage 1: Rogue IT or Shadow IT - Free cloud storage phase
The first stage of mobile content management considered by some on the market as Rogue IT (otherwise known as ShadowIT). This is where mobile users with a little bit of knowledge begin putting corporate documents into personal cloud storage accounts on Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, or OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive).
Two reports that can speak more to risks of the Rogue IT stage are:
- The High Cost of Mobile Business Users' Rogue IT Practices (PDF) from harmon.ie
- State of the Enterprise Information Landscape (PDF) from Huddle, a collaboration platform that challenges SharePoint
While consumer cloud vendors including Dropbox and Box have released two-factor authentication, it doesn't mean users are going to implement security measures especially if they are using free storage without the blessing of corporate management
The security risks inherent with stage 1 mean enterprises don't want to stay here long. Likewise, the requisite endpoint security needs to be in place or else elements of stage 1 could remain in place.
Stage 2: Cloud solutions, mobile device management and intelligent mobile apps
With Office 365, Huddle, and RedHost taking collaboration to the cloud, stage 2 means that an enterprise can approach MCM in a more mature manner with user privileges, true file locking, content version control, and intelligent mobile apps from innovative platform and third party vendors. Stage 2 is more about control and collaboration, less about the ad hoc convenient file storage that marks stage 1.
Today's cloud collaboration platforms mean their own class of intelligent mobile apps. I've written about harmon.ie's SharePoint client offerings on both iOS and Android. Colligo is also doing some excellent work with Colligo Briefcase. Huddle's mobile app includes a patent pending document recommendation engine and improvements on the mobile app are certain to play into Huddle's overall product roadmap.
Traditional MDM vendors including MobileIron, AirWatch, and Good have their own app stores now. Vendors including harmon.ie have released secure versions of their apps that integrate directly with the MDM solution.
As MCM gains more intelligence in stage 2, Mobile Identity Management becomes an option as distinct requirements for device security and cloud access grow for enterprises.
Tom Kemp, CEO of Centrify, a leading identity tools vendor that support mobile and cloud application said, "First and foremost, ensure the device is secure. Second, you want mobile application management to deploy the app to the device, then the next thing is what people really want is that people don't want to always have to enter their username and password when they access files."
Stage 3: Cloud, MDM, intelligent mobile apps, and social
The introduction of an enterprise social component to MCM marks stage 3.
"I would say if you are serious about collaboration – your second stage – you need social," adds Cohen. He labels it a natural evolution because it takes mobile users beyond the document and fosters brainstorming
You can have social interactions, and say ‘hey, why don't you update this slide." You can already look at that as the third one.
The social component that arrives with stage 3 is especially important as companies turn to mobile first strategies, geographically dispersed workforces, and contractors to serve their customers.
Stage 4: Emergence of context and location-based technologies in MCM
"Context or intelligence is the next generation," says Cohen. "Nobody is really doing it."
His look into the future of context is the content being brought to the mobile user when they need it. His example to me was an employee has an important meeting with a manager or executive. A mobile content management solution pushes the latest documents you have rights to on the collaboration platform and even recent enterprise social posts from the meeting attendees. He also predicts that the REST API will play a role in the future phase and query Salesforce and perhaps other backend systems for data pertinent to the meeting. This data would in turn appear on the mobile devices of authorized meeting attendees.
It could even be location-based. Cohen points to where a mobile device's location can help drive further contextual information
Stage 4 wasn't in my original article. It's Cohen's suggestion to me and matches other activity I'm seeing in the market, so I added it to my original three stages. For example, I recently got a briefing from Blake Brannon, global sales engineering manager for Air Watch about recent updates to the Air Watch Content Locker. Geographic-base security called Geo-fencing is part of the product enabling enterprises to lock down corporate content by geographic location. Other vendors are moving in a similar direction. Look for an upcoming TechRepublic post from me about the AirWatch Content Locker.
Through changing business rules, technology, or security concerns, the state of mobile content management is continuously evolving. Enterprises need to manage their mobile content management requirements from inception through the next generation technology options that stage 4 offers a mobile workforce.
At what stage is MCM in your organization?
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 applications, Google Apps, Microsoft technologies, and online collaboration for TechRepublic and other sites. Will also works as a contract technical writer for clients in the Washington, DC area and nationwide. Follow Will on Twitter: @willkelly.