Does your SharePoint implementation support mobile users?

Perhaps a good place to start answering this question may be to ask whether your SharePoint implementation supports and adds value to your staff in general?

The SharePoint story has been phenomenal.  It has become the de facto enterprise portal, ECM solution and collaboration platform of choice for over 65,000 corporate customers with 125 million users (according to Microsoft).  Some 65% of companies say that have deployed SharePoint enterprise-wide, yet a commonly reported issue is that SharePoint implementations fail to create an engaging and productive working environment for end users. So, what kind of functionality in SharePoint should you be looking for to help your staff become more productive with their time?  Here is a list of some of the more obvious features:

  • Access to document libraries and templates
  • Tasks and workflow
  • Forms
  • Custom views and WebParts (like Social Collaboration apps, corporate announcements, staff contact lists, BI reports and dashboards, CRM pipeline reports, etc).

If your SharePoint environment provides some or all of these functions, then you probably feel that SharePoint is going a good job in supporting your users. Your staff who work away from the office or who want to access SharePoint on mobile devices however, may well feel quite differently, since it is unlikely that they are going to be able to have access to the same rich supporting environment on their smartphone or tablet.

There are many issues to overcome in order to provide secure mobile access to SharePoint.  Firstly, the standard mobile templates that ship with SharePoint are basic, uninspiring and difficult to customize and any development work that is taken place will need to be repeated for each mobile platform and form factor. Then you have the issue of security and authentication.  Remembering that staff members who want to access corporate systems from their mobile devices, are essentially the same as external users; so firewalls, authentication procedures and mobile information security policies may need to be revised.

Whether you take the plunge and undertake custom development of SharePoint’s native mobile templates, or whether you purchase an off-the-shelf mobile SharePoint application from an App store, you will still only have access to standard out-of-the-box SharePoint functions. If your SharePoint system has been branded and customized with WebParts and other functionality that add value to your staff to boost collaboration and productivtiy, then unfortunately all of the current mobile SharePoint solutions on the market fail to provide mobile users with a corresponding mobile SharePoint experience as they all only provide assess to standard functionality, like tasks, calendars, lists items and document libraries.

That is, with the exception of Azurati.  Azurati’s SharePoint2Go solution provides a highly secure cross-platform mobile SharePoint experience that will work on any device from a Windows 8 Surface tablet, to IOS device and everything in between.  The big difference being that it also allows the mobile SharePoint UI to be branded and customized, so that it essentially becomes a mobile extension to the internal SharePoint environment and most importantly, it also allows custom developed WebParts, that provide the added value to SharePoint users, to be transformed into v-Parts® and made available to mobile users via SharePoint2Go.

So, from an end user’s perspective, SharePoint2Go provides a rich mobile SharePoint experience that will allow mobile users to maintain office-level productivity when working on any smartphone or tablet. From the IT department’s perspective, SharePoint2Go allows mobile SharePoint to be deployed as part of a multi-platform or BYOD mobile strategy, but allowing the Business to maintain control over security and authentication.

Why should you care about mobile users?  Well, because many organizations see enterprise mobility as being one of their top strategic priorities.   As new smartphones and tablets appear on the market and overtake the sales of laptops and desktops, the traditional definition of a mobile user will change.  In the very near future, we will all be mobile users, and for 65% of organisations who responded to a recent survey by Gartner, we will increasingly expect to be able to bring our own devices in to the workplace and to connect to enterprise systems.

If you are interested in providing secure access to mobile SharePoint as part of your enterprise mobility strategy, talk to Azurati or join other like-minded business and IT professionals by subscribing to the LinkedIn Group: Mobile SharePoint.  Azurati also offers a range of expert consulting services to help you if you have not yet fully defined an enterprise mobility or BYOD strategy for your business.

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