Mobile Only: Week 50
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.
According to the 80/20 rule (also known as the Pareto principal), “roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.” That same principal applied to mobile productivity posits that 80% of the productivity I achieve from working mobile comes from 20% of the apps I have on my phone. What are these powerhouse areas of productivity? I boiled down all the apps on my phone that are productivity based and came up with these essential categories.
E-mail, Calendar, and Contacts
E-mail, calendar, and contacts are without a doubt the cornerstone of enterprise productivity. As much as there is a segment of the population that would love to see the death of e-mail, it isn’t going away anytime soon. It was the first thing that ported well to the form factor of mobility.
While many people express frustration with the native e-mail and calendar clients on their mobile OS, everyone uses e-mail on their mobile device. Much of the frustration is due to each person’s unique way of managing these functions. Thankfully there are many apps, widgets, and services for people to get that just-right combination for management of the fundamentals.
Voice, Video, and Text
Mobile devices, with their native speakers, camera, and keyboard, can combine for a powerful communication tool beyond the historical role the “phone” has played. Better still, they can be had at a fraction of the cost of traditional fixed voice and video conferencing solutions.
Apps like Skype provide easy to use, powerful features that can accomplish a great deal of conferencing needs. Because Skype can interface with the traditional phone networks, international business travelers can use an international data plan to communicate in lieu of having a data and voice plan. Beyond the basic voice and video there are some fantastic apps, like Fuze, that push video collaboration to a new level. These apps allow for virtual presentations and collaboration on the go.
The ability to collect and pull together lists, ideas, websites, audio clips, photos, and any other random assemblage of thoughts is not new to productivity. What is new is the ability to collect these thoughts anytime, anywhere. Ideas are often fleeting and come to us at peculiar times. A note app and your mobile device couldn’t be better-suited bedfellows.
While there are many apps out there that allow you to collect notes and ideas, Evernote is the clear leader. Not only can you organize your thoughts on the fly, you can also share with colleagues, tag notes around ideas, and even keep track of where the notes were taken. We all organize our thoughts and ideas slightly differently, and Evernote provides the simplicity and flexibility to accomplish this in a real-time and collaborative fashion.
Office Productivity Suite
Office productivity, dominated for years by the Microsoft Office suite, has seen a renaissance of new entrants into the space based on Microsoft’s hesitancy to engage mobile platforms outside of Windows Phone. These newcomers, such as Quickoffice, were limited in functionality at first. However, as the relentless updates and iterations continue, the functionally is quickly maturing to a level of productivity that meets most users’ needs. With the inclusion of features such as track changes, apps like Quickoffice have reached the minimum bar of enterprise capability. Even PowerPoint presentations are easy to create on mobile devices.
File Share and Collaboration
Productivity seldom happens in isolation. We often need to collaborate with others and be part of team projects. Projects can include one group of team members for one project and another group for a second project. Apps from Box, Dropbox, and SAP allow users to quickly and simply share documents with others. Beyond just basic document sharing, users can assign tasks, preview files, and download for offline use. These platforms’ published APIs have also allowed many other enterprise services to integrate seamlessly into their capabilities. These apps provide a great model of what the enterprise app ecosystem of the future will look like.
The idea of the road-warrior sales executive is the quintessential use-case for mobile productivity. But Customer Relationship Management (CRM) has also evolved beyond just the sales department. Many enterprises have the complexities of their business process workflow built into the platform. As well, many CRM apps have social integration built into them, which dovetails nicely into the mobile experience of anytime, anywhere communication. Customer relations touch so many individuals in the enterprise, and timeliness of response has become so paramount that it has become an essential app for enterprise mobility.
There are lots of other great apps out there that assist users with productivity: Mindmapping, Line of Business Apps, Navigation, To-Do Lists, etc. But none have such broad-reaching results for productivity. It always amazes me how much work you can get done with so few apps. What do you think? If you only had these six categories of apps on your mobile device could you get 80% of your job done? What else would you include as essential productivity apps for mobility?