BYOD-ready mobile SharePoint with Azurati SharePoint2Go

Video demonstration of Azurati SharePoint2Go, a secure HTML5 cross-platform mobile SharePoint solution.

Contact Azurati via http://www.azurati.com for more information about how you can deploy mobile SharePoint as part of your enterprise mobile or BYOD strategy.

Nielson Norman announce 10 best Intranets; mobile still lagging behind

Nielson Norman Group, a leading Intranet design and consulting firm, have just published their annual top 10 Intranets study; an annual review of the top 10 corporate intranet sites from companies around the world.

Nielsen Norman’s top 10 best designed intranets for 2013 are:

1. Acorda Therapeutics, Inc. Biotechnology USA
2. American International Group, Inc. Insurance USA
3. AT&T Telecommunications USA
4. Hager Group Manufacturing Germany
5. Luzerner Kantonalbank AG Financial Services Switzerland
6. ONO Telecommunications Spain
7. Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) Governmental Agency Saudi Arabia
8. Swiss Mobiliar Insurance and Pensions Insurance Switzerland
9. WorkSafeBC Workers Compensation Board of British Columbia Canada
10. XL Group Plc Insurance Ireland

Interesting points to note from the report are that, according to Nielsen Norman, over 70% of corporate intranets are built on a Microsoft SharePoint platform, and mainly due to the fact that corporate intranets take a very long time to develop and perfect (an average of 26.5 months or 2.3 years), mobile enablement of corporate intranets is seriously lagging behind other new features, like Social Collaboration.

This means that many corporate intranets are failing to address the needs of a growing number of users who want to be able to access corporate information and knowledge on mobile devices.  Gartner estimates that by the end of 2014, 70% of enterprises will have implemented a BYOD strategy and the corporate intranet is one of the most obvious enterprise resources that should be made available on mobile devices.

The report lists common mobile barriers as being:

  • Security concerns
  • Difficulty of choosing a platform
  • Lack of resources to create and maintain mobile builds
  • Uncertainty about whether to implement a full feature set with a good mobile user experience or an app for particular tasks

Creating mobile SharePoint intranets
As with all things software, there will always be the debate as to whether one should build and develop a bespoke solution, or whether a commercial off-the-shelf solution would make better commercial sense. The same will undoubtedly be the same when you come around to considering mobile-enabling your SharePoint-based intranet.

Azurati SharePoint2Go_compared_with Standard_SharePoint

Our (biased) counsel, would be to refrain from custom development of mobile interfaces with SharePoint.  It is a fairly well known issue that Microsoft has not done a good job with the standard mobile templates that ship with SharePoint.  Even with SharePoint 2013, developers are dissuaded from branding and customising the standard mobile templates that ship with SharePoint.  In addition, new mobile templates need to be developed for each form-factor that is released, which can lead to prohibitive on-going costs of maintenance and support.  That is why solutions like Azurati’s SharePoint2Go solution is able to deliver mobile enabled SharePoint that will work seamlessly on any mobile device in five minutes.

Not only does SharePoint2Go deliver an instant cross-platform mobile solution for SharePoint intranets, it also includes over 15 options to authenticate your mobile users securely; with everything from forms-based authentication to 2-factor built in to SharePoint2Go’s administrator wizards.

SharePoint2Go your way
If your SharePoint intranet is heavily customised with value-adding functions that make your desktop version of your intranet a productive experience (like company news, people finders, document repositories, management dashboards, etc.), SharePoint2Go can be extended by developers to create mobile versions of custom SharePoint web parts – we call them V-Parts.  V-Parts can be designed to be used within the mobile SharePoint interface, or as stand-alone full-screen mobile applications that can operate in offline mode as well as online.

As an HTML5 mobile application that is accessible via the mobile device’s browser, SharePoint2Go will work with feature-parity on any mobile device, no matter what the market throws at you; making it the ideal solution to complement your enterprise mobile or BYOD strategy.

Find out more
If you are looking to mobile-enable your SharePoint intranet and you are looking for a solution that:

  • is built with enterprise security in mind
  • will work on any mobile device or form factor, with feature-parity, and will therefore complement your enterprise mobile or BYOD strategy
  • will not require costly internal development teams to develop and maintain your mobile environment, or costly Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions, get in touch with Azurati.

To find out more about Azurati’s SharePoint2Go solution for mobile-enabling Microsoft SharePoint and to request a free 14 day trial, contact info@azurati.com or visit www.azurati.com.

Mobile SharePoint to complement your BYOD or COPE mobile strategy

According to a recent poll by Azurati, access to mobile SharePoint is seen to be one of the most critical must-have mobile enterprise applications for organisations who are looking to deploy enterprise applications to mobile users as part of a BYOD or COPE (Corporately Owned, Personally Enabled) mobile strategy.

Social Collaboration, workflow approvals and BI dashboards also scored highly amongst those who responded.

Providing mobile SharePoint access to users securely on multiple mobile devices is a challenge if you are looking to exploit the native templates and functionality in SharePoint.  Here are some of the reasons why you might want to consider licencing a vendor-developed solution, like Azurati’s SharePoint2Go®:

Authentication
Enabling mobile users to authenticate across the corporate firewall to access internal applications, like SharePoint, is often the single biggest challenge that IT teams will face.  Azurati makes authentication and secure access easy, because we have done all of the hard work for you and provide 15 options for enterprise customers to set up secure authentication to their SharePoint environment in a simple Wizard interface.

Azurati also supports multiple methods of authentication, allowing options like federated profiles (so users can use their standard Active Directory credentials, or they can log on using external authentication providers, like their Window Live ID, Google or Yahoo accounts.  This option is often useful if you are thinking about providing mobile SharePoint access to external stakeholders or temporary staff).

Cross-platform and form factor support
Azurati’s SharePoint2Go solution guarantees to support any smartphone or tablet on the market, including devices like Windows Surface RT tablets, Amazon Kindle Fire tablets and the upcoming Blackberry 10 range of devices, as well as standard mobile platforms like IOS, Android, Blackberry and Windows Phone devices; making Azurati your ideal BYOD partner.

You can customise the standard mobile templates that ship with Microsoft SharePoint, but they require extensive specialist developers to create specific templates for target mobile platforms and form factors, which will need to be updated as new devices emerge on the market.

Branding and UI customisation
Microsoft’s latest guidelines are for SharePoint developers to not customise the SharePoint interface.  For those companies that have invested significant time and money in their corporate identity and brand and who wish to extend that identity to mobile SharePoint users, Azurati’s SharePoint2Go solution will allow full branding and UI customisation to truly make your mobile SharePoint yours.

Support for mobile WebParts
It is rare these days to find a SharePoint implementation that does not include some elements of custom developed components, or WebParts.  WebParts often make SharePoint come to life as a corporate Intranet platform or ECM platform by providing views and access to functionality like Staff contact lists, company news and events, weather, advanced search, recently edited documents, BI/Management reports and dashboard, Sales pipeline data, etc.

You should ask a simple question:  if your users make use of custom developed WebParts in the desktop version of SharePoint, should all or some of those WebParts be made available to mobile users?

There is of course one major challenge here.  All mobile SharePoint solutions on the market (including the native mobile option from Microsoft), with the exception of Azurati, can only display standard SharePoint features (like documents, news, list data, calendars, tasks, etc) to mobile users.

Azurati allows custom developed WebParts to be transformed in to mobile WebParts, or V-Parts®, as Azurati calls them.  V-Parts can allow custom WebParts to be used interactively within the SharePoint2Go solution on any mobile device. V-Parts can also be developed to operate in dynamic offline mode, so you can continue working even if you do not have internet connectivity.

Special offer for SharePoint Conference 2012 delegates
If you are currently attending the SharePoint Conference 2012 in Las Vegas, you may qualify for a 30% discount on SharePoint2Go licenses if you purchase SharePoint2Go for your users before 31 December 2012.  All you have to do is send us a photo or scanned image of your conference pass (like the one shown below) to qualify:

If you are thinking about deploying mobile SharePoint, this is a great opportunity for you to do so at a great discount.

For more information about Azurati and SharePoint2Go, the secure cross-platform mobile SharePoint solution, please visit www.azurati.com and request a free 14 day trial.

Azurati webinar: Transforming your SharePoint Intranet to support mobile users

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Vodafone recently published the results of an internal test involving 100+ staff members who were given tablets to work with.  The test showed that the following three applications were used most often by tablet users:

• Corporate email
• Intranet (SharePoint)
• Social Collaboration

The use of mobile devices in the enterprise is increasing as companies permit multiple mobile devices as part of enterprise mobile or BYOD strategies.

Mobile is key to boosting Intranet user adoption and user engagement.

Is your business ready to support mobile working?  Does your SharePoint-based Intranet address the needs of your mobile staff.

If you are responsible for your corporate Intranet or SharePoint environment, you should attend this webinar to find out how you can transform your SharePoint Intranet instantly into a secure cross-platform mobile Intranet with Azurati’s SharePoint2Go.

Register RIGHT NOW.

 

Date          Wednesday 24 October 2012
Time 14:00 London

15:00 Paris

09:00 New York

08:00 Dallas

 

 

 

 

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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.

Mobile Intranet: Why SharePoint needs to have a good mobile user

Azurati is delighted to have Mark Morrell, a leading independent expert on Intranet design and governance to share his thoughts on providing Intranet access to mobile users and why Microsoft SharePoint 2010 is the ideal corporate intranet platform.

Why SharePoint 2010 needs to have a good mobile user

Why is SharePoint 2010 so widely used?  I believe it is because it offers for the first time one technical solution that meets many business needs rather than just one.  If you want to improve knowledge sharing you will have many tools to consider.  Again if you need to manage your documents you will have a wide choice of vendors.

But if your business has more than one need or can see how solving one will create other requirements then a solution like SharePoint 2010 comes become more attractive to consider.

But what if your organisation needs employees to use your intranet while away from their place of work?  There are huge savings in office costs and increases in productivity if employees can use the intranet to help them with their work while they are mobile.

Before we can consider if SharePoint 2010 can help meet these needs and provide these benefits there are other important steps to take first.

Mobile strategy

Why is your organisation considering mobile access to your intranet?  You need to develop a strategy aligned to your overall business strategy that sets out how providing this need will help to improve the performance.  Without a clear, agreed, mobile strategy in place there is little chance of creating a successful business case for a solution that can help employees.  You need to research which content and tools are most needed while employees are mobile.

Mobile champion

Who should be responsible for sponsoring the implementation of your mobile strategy?  You need to find a senior representative who will champion this or, better still, a board or steering group of senior representatives from business functions across your organisation.  Make sure the role is clear, and you have the authority to make the decisions needed, supported by funding.

Mobile audience

Who needs to use a mobile device for their work?  You need to be clear which employees will benefit from having a mobile device.  It probably will not be everyone.  Even if it is, you will have to prioritise who has the greatest need.  Factors like the number of employees involved, time spent away from their place of work, what contribution they can make, will help decide the greatest need.

Mobile governance

As well as having a champion for the use of mobile devices your governance framework needs to include the standards for owners of content and tools to follow so mobile devices can be used by employees.  Roles and responsibilities need to include meeting the needs of mobile users for content and tool owners.  The content and tools must not be a complete duplication of what exists already.

Mobile devices

Will you let employees bring their own devices to work or will you provide your own?  That decision is critical and will depend on your organisation’s corporate values, type of employees, security (more below on this), funding and speed of adoption.  Once that decision is made you can then focus on what devices your organisation provides or you recommend employees have that offer the best experience for what they need to do while mobile.

Mobile security

How can you be sure the right people only are using your intranet?  It is vital you have a representative from your Legal team involved as well as from IT.  You need to find the right balance of secure but easy access.  It is no good if it takes ages to authenticate who you are before employee can access your intranet.  But you do need some intelligent software working in the background to ensure you know who is accessing content with a mobile device.

Mobile platform

As I said at the beginning most organisations are either considering using SharePoint 2010 or are in various stages of rolling out to meet their needs.  One of these is increasingly the need to provide content and tools that is needed by employees while mobile.

The problem with SharePoint 2010 is the ‘out of the box’ experience can be a bit underwhelming.  It is a text only version which most mobile users of internet sites will feel is like going back in time.  It may be improved by the next release of SharePoint but can your organisation afford to wait that long?

About Mark Morrell

Mark Morrell is an intranet pioneer combining strategic thinking with implementation skills.  Since 1996, he has developed intranet strategies with first-hand practical experience of implementing major technology and change projects.  As the former BT Intranet Manager, he helped to transform BT’s intranet into one of the best global examples for governance, engagement and collaboration. Mark is an expert in SharePoint and can share his knowledge and experience of the digital workplace and other intranet topics. Mark has established his consultancy Mark Morrell Ltd to help major organisations with their intranet strategy, governance, standards and use of collaboration tools.

Phone: +44 (0) 771 338 5309

Email: mark@intranet-pioneer.com

Web: http://intranet-pioneer.com/

 

For a free trial of Azurati’s cross-platform mobile SharePoint solution, SharePoint2Go, visit www.azurati.com/products/sharepoint2go

 

 

 

 

Twitter: @markmorrell