Apps

Four tablet apps for enterprise social networks

Willy Kelly provides a roundup of mobile apps that can extend enterprise social networks to iPads and Android tablets.

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Extending your enterprise social network to iPads and Android tablets is a great way to give your mobile workers or a geographically dispersed project team always-on access to your organizational communications.

One of the key selling points for taking your enterprise social network mobile is to give users a powerful tool to stay on top of team conversations, files, and projects from their mobile devices. In the end, such apps are about knowledge sharing.

The apps I highlight in the post are free, but some of them have additional business pricing plans. Mobile users should be sure to get setup with an account on their organization’s enterprise social network platform.

Here's my roundup of mobile enterprise social apps for tablets:

Yammer

Vendor: Yammer
Cost: Basic app is free (iOS/Android); Additional pricing plans

While Microsoft’s acquisition of Yammer was controversial in some corners, the Yammer iOS app shows it did give Microsoft an injection of much-needed mobile app talent. Personally, I’m still waiting for a full version of Microsoft Office for iOS, but testing the Yammer app on my iPad gives me hope for a more mobile platform agnostic future for Microsoft. Equipping an iPad user with the Yammer app means they can spend less time sorting through the email inbox. Some important features of the Yammer iOS app include:

  • Push notifications, which are ideal for busy mobile users who need a reminder or alert for discussions and activities that might be taking place on their organization’s Yammer social network
  • Mobile inbox that enables mobile workers to see the most important Yammer conversations in one view
  • Access to documents

On my mobility wish list is harmon.ie or Colligo bringing Yammer access to their iOS SharePoint clients for enterprises running Office 365 and Yammer together.

Figure A shows the main page of the Yammer iOS app on an iPad.

Figure A

Figure A

Yammer on an iPad.

Jive

Vendor: Jive Software
Cost: Basic app is free (iOS/Android); Additional pricing plans

I recently wrote a post about collaborating social with Jive and came to really appreciate the Jive social platform. While testing the Jive Mobile app on my iPad and iPhone, I found it to be very well thought out and designed (Figure B). Mobile appears to be a part of the Jive Software strategy, not an afterthought.

Figure B

Figure B

Testing the Jive app.

The Jive mobile app includes the following features:

  • Receive announcements from Jive communities in your mobile inbox
  • Support for pictures in social stream updates
  • Search across people (via rich user profiles), places, and content directly from the mobile app
  • Browse through your followed activity stream, reply to discussions, comment on documents and blog posts, and use the Like button

Tibbr

Vendor: TIBCO Software Inc
Pricing: Basic app is free (iOS/Android); Contact sales about additional pricing

The surprising contender for me in mobile enterprise social tools is Tibbr. If you haven’t heard of Tibbr, you’ve probably heard of their parent company TIBCO Software (a middleware vendor). Despite my initial skepticism of Tibbr, I’ve come to see them as a very focused business network that pays attention to user needs to filter out information.

Here are some notable features of Tibbr for mobile users:

  • Integration with business apps that extend to mobile devices
  • Ability to follow subjects, including projects, discussions, and teams (while this goes against some of the prevailing thoughts about social tools, this business focus is going to appear to certain users, especially those on mobile devices)

While Tibbr is seen as a challenger to Yammer, I personally see it more as an integration play, because its integration with back office apps like Oracle and Salesforce is such a selling point for the platform. On the plus side, Tibbr integration with back office applications means some interesting options for executives and the mobile sales force who are always on the road, since both executives and sales are voracious consumers of back office data. On the negative side, gaining the full benefits of Tibbr for your mobile users may require more strategy and setup when compared to the other platforms I've highlighted in this particular post.

Figure C shows an example of the Tibbr iOS app.

Figure C

Figure C

Tibbr on iOS.

My Bloomfire

Vendor: Bloomfire
Cost: Basic app is free (iOS); Additional pricing plans

Opening the My Bloomfire mobile app on a Retina iPad brings me back to 1995 America Online. My first inclination was to start deleting things from the screen. The interface seems to lack order and fluidity.

Bloomfire needs to decide whether My Bloomfire is a mobile presentation app (like I covered in my post about tapping into the cloud for iPad presentations) or a mobile client for an enterprise social network. They do seem to have the media part down pat.

Bloomfire is either contemplating a pivot for their platform or has fallen into the trap of trying to be everything to everybody, a malady inflicting startups and established companies alike, so I’m hesitant to recommend it for mobile users. Figure D shows an example of Bloomfire on the iPad.

Figure D

Figure D

Bloomfire on an iPad.

Final thoughts

If mobile access to an enterprise social network is important to your mobile workforce, you need to put mobile access at the top of your requirements list. Then, I encourage you to take advantage of the free trials these platforms and others offer. 

What enterprise social apps do you use on your tablet or other mobile device? Share you experience in the discussion thread below.


About

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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