Benjamin Robbins, an EMF member, is spending the next year working solely from a single mobile device. Each week he shares his thoughts and experience with us on what it means to be mobile-only.
It’s hard to believe it, but a quarter of a year has already gone by in my experiment with going mobile-only. In some ways it seems like a really long time ago. It is funny how new habits can be formed as old ones seem to fade into another lifetime. I have to admit the first few weeks of trying to work on my cell phone were really frustrating. I posted content with spelling errors because I didn’t have a way to spell check. I couldn’t get to RDP to work. I couldn’t get my monitor at home to sync correctly with the phone. Worst of all, I couldn’t stand how much slower I was at simple tasks. There really didn’t seem to be any value to the experiment. But after about a month into it, things started to click. That doesn’t mean there weren’t still issues, but I started to see how mobile-only can pay dividends as well.
Over the last 12 weeks I feel like I have only scratched the surface of the value of mobile-only. I started with one of the most obvious and most prolific value propositions of mobility, email enablement. Email is the gateway to enterprise mobility. Most everyone has this functionality in place. However most people use the on screen keyboard and can only managed short emails. Being able to have a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard paired with my phone has made all the difference. It changes email on the phone from something that was a convenience into something fruitful.
There was lots of interest in how I actually created content on a mobile device. Besides being able to use a keyboard, mouse, and monitor there are a plethora of office suite apps out there. However, at the time of writing my post on office suite apps there were none that offered spell check as a feature. This was a definite loss for me personally as I am spelling challenged. Quickoffice Pro now offers this as a feature – so (hopefully) no more spelling errors! The biggest gap in office productivity now is the lack of ability to track changes. This is a big productivity loss for any teams who collaboratively need to created and review content. I hope to see this feature soon in the future.
I also spent several weeks looking at the value of other aspects of collaboration utilizing a mobile device and cloud services. This included looking at collaboration from the perspective of content creation, brainstorming, communication, and project management. While there are many apps out there that perform these functions, the overall experience is a solitary one. Mobile devices are viewed as content consumption devices and many of the limited capabilities for collaboration show their biased in this regard. When it comes to mobile devices connected to cloud services though, it is a different valuation. The ability to store and share content from a mobile device to the cloud is a natural fit; the two were made for each other and feed off of the capabilities. I see lots of opportunity for dynamic growth and change in the enterprise where mobility and cloud intersect.
I found that over this first quarter the biggest return of a mobile-only lifestyle is that my data and capabilities are always with me; and in compact form to boot (which comes in very handy on an airplane)! No matter where I traveled to or who I was working with, I could always perform the same functions as if I were in my office. I am never caught without access to my files, never without an application, never without connectivity. My work is everywhere I am, at any time, at any place. While I will probably get curious stares and comments for the rest of the year when working from a phone, I know that my first quarter’s valuation of mobile only is only a drop in the bucket of the value it will bring to enterprise mobility in the coming years. I see nothing but upside and positive returns!
Benjamin Robbins is currently a Principal at Palador, a firm that focuses on providing strategic guidance to enterprises in the areas of mobility, apps, and data. You can follow him on Twitter. Mr. Robbins resides in Seattle and blogs regularly at http://www.remotelymobileblog.com