E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

From the blog

Finding Experts in Your Company … While You Are on the Road!

Gran Canaria - Presa de Ayagaures & surroundingsIf you would remember, last week I posted a blog entry around the topic of "Finding Experts in Your Company … Through Micro-Sharing" where I mentioned how perhaps one of the most powerful expertise location tools available out there within the corporate world would probably be Enterprise Micro-sharing/-blogging. But what happens when you are on the road, when you are constantly travelling away from your office into customer sites, or when you are stuck in an airport, for instance, and you are just looking for that expert that you know is out there and who may be the right person to help out? What happens then? Well, that’s when Collaboration In Your Pocket Is Here!

Yes, that’s right! As more and more mobile devices, mainly smartphones, are starting to look with much more detail into the mobile Enterprise 2.0 world, we are beginning to see how plenty of our favourite social software tools for business are making it through and rather successfully. So eventually finding an expert, while you are on the road, or working remotely, is probably no longer the big issue it used to be.

Check out the recent blog post that my good friend, Dennis McDonald put together on this very same subject and which I have referenced above already under Collaboration In Your Pocket Is Here! In that article Dennis states very clearly what are some of the biggest challenges that Mobile 2.0 has got ahead, if it would want to make it through successfully. To quote:

"[…] We see in the demo nothing but the basic elements of enterprise expertise management — access to individuals and groups and the ability to locate and obtain access to needed expertise.

These functions incorporate the essence of expertise management that I wrote about here and here back in 2006. Now, though, the tools and functionality have become more accessible, more streamlined, more user friendly, and much more mobile. Hopefully all smartphone interfaces will be able to access such apps in the future"

He is actually referring to this demo shared in YouTube that shows IBMs Lotus Connections on an Apple iPhone (Wish it would contain sound as well; it would be have so much more effective! Oh well…), where the main focus is eventually on keeping things as simple as possible: i.e. finding the experts at your fingerprints with as few steps as you possibly can, without much clutter, so you can connect with them right away to help you answer those questions that came up while you are on the road and without access to your computer or a reliable network.

Of course, the response should be fast, almost in real-time, more than anything else, because that’s what you will need right there, right then, but still keeping yourself on task, without any other distraction than just getting the job done! I couldn’t have agreed more with Dennis on this important point, where bloated features are left behind to help speed up the process of the task at hand; somehow I sense that’ll become incredibly empowering when your connectivity is seriously challenged. That way you can make the right connections right away and if you would need to come back for more complex interactions you can do so from the comfort of your own computer, whenever you are back connected online.

That YouTube demo is a good showcase of how that simplicity should work out for everyone out there exploring their extensive use of smartphones as their mobile computers. It surely is the right step forward into making it a reality at some point in time in the near future:

But does that necessarily mean that 2010 will be the Year of Mobile? Both Peter Kim and Bill Ives have put together some very compelling blog posts on the topic stating that would be the case. Yet, somehow, I remain skeptic, rather skeptic, to be honest, on this one. And mainly, for two single reasons that I see as big barriers of entry to make that dream of Mobile 2.0 become a reality:

  • Your company mobile phone: I do realise that this may well be a rather localised barrier, specially if you are reading this from the US or some European countries, like Germany or the UK, but my current company mobile phone, in 2010!, doesn’t allow for anything else than voice and SMS / text messages. No data transfer in place, no plans to incorporate it any time soon! How does that put me in a position to state that 2010 will be the year of Mobile? Well, may be not so fast, at least, in my country, Spain.
  • The carrier: of course, you would say I could buy my own smartphone and use it for work, which I do, I own an iPhone 3G, yet the problem arises with the carrier: always the carrier (Amongst several other huge issues I’m skipping for now, like battery life, to name one…). The current contract with my provider (Movistar) is less than desirable; rather expensive and the two most frequently used / seen words in such device are two I never thought I would be seeing so often: No Service, which, I think, speaks for itself, don’t you think?

So, while social software tools are starting to make good progress into entering, successfully, the realm of the mobile world, making that social business experience much more endurable allowing you to carry it on with you, wherever you may well be, there are still some more fundamental challenges, showstoppers, that we should probably not ignore, nor neglect. In fact, I would start believing it would be the N Year of Mobile, whenever those two issues are fixed, universally. Till then, I will remain skeptic, no matter how cool a mobile social software application demo would look like, even if it is about one of my favourite Enterprise Social Software tools ever!

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Worth while sharing it along?
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3 comments

  1. I accudentally voted 1 star on this blog entry. You have my permission to remove it.

    I think there is another significant barrier facing large companies… Your responsibilty, your role, your corporate definition, your risk, your reward are often ill defined, and worse, often conflict with the stated goals you outline.

    Sent from iPhone because Corp Internet access doesn’t allow it. .. One ve for mobile:)

  2. I agree with you Luis, from the perspective you paint, 2010 will not be the year of the mobile phone. Having just stepped out of the large corporate environment and now being a self employed entrepreneur; for me 2010 is definitely the year of the mobile phone.

    Everything I need and want is available on my iPhone and is making me incredibly effective when on the road. Collaborating with my fellow buddy entrepreneurs is easy through all social media tools available out there. And when needed I can discuss business sensitive stuff in protected private groups. It works great.

    The only downside I see so far is the huge roaming cost when traveling abroad. In a shameless way providers know how to get money out of your pocket. Even when using the same provider abroad it costs more than technology could justify. That will however be a matter of time before also that hurdle will be taken. Either by providers choosing sensible ratings or users choosing alternative solutions.

    Regards,
    Peter

  3. I think you’ve identified the next “big thing” in enterprise social media. Mobile access will be extremely important to people in sales, marketing and PR. Rightly or wrongly, their customers and audiences expect them to possess expert knowledge, or at least know where to find it. In my estimation, Mobile social media equals mobile knowledge management, which puts the “experts” at your fingertips, when you need them.

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