Online workgroup communications are not new–I have been using them in my various workplaces over the years since I first gained an email account in the mid-1980s. In one company, they held weekly web conferencing meetings with participants all over the world, including with one of our staff in New Zealand. But still these meetings were held at a specific time, and people gathered around desktop computers in various offices and meeting rooms to hold these meetings. Several face-to-face meetings supplemented these online gatherings at conferences or other events throughout the year. Backing up these online communications were online shared calendars, spreadsheets, and documents, such as those offered by Google Drive.
Mobile workgroup communications are both similar and different from those online practices that have worked for many businesses over the years. While mobile devices can replace desktops in holding online meetings, mobile workgroup communications are more flexible and add several affordances that can make transactions even more efficient and productive.
Oracle has recently produced a white paper on “the hyper-connected enterprise” that promotes improved collaboration, enhanced customer experiences, and streamlined business processes as competitive advantages of the new mobile workgroup communications capabilities available today. Many mobile devices can now take both regular and VoIP phone calls, file sharing and syncing, allowing click-to-call apps for customers and employees who need immediate information, and connecting to online voice, chat, and HD video meetings.
With mobile, all of these capabilities are more flexible in that you need not be in the office or at a desk to join with customers or colleagues to be connected to others. And, new capabilities of mobile like texting or location detection can allow coordination of movement or additional information about a place that would not be available when tied down to a desk. Recently, my wife worked on a daily basis on a project with a colleague in Cyprus. Mostly they texted back and forth of the day, and from places as diverse as a restaurant to sitting in our living room. The communications were immediate and moved the project forward.
When the half-dozen Float staff attend the ATD conference in Denver in two weeks, we will be able to text each other as a group, coordinate our movements, ask questions to each other, and share information as we work at the Float booth or present at conference sessions. If we are engaged in a meaningful activity, a phone call won’t interrupt us and can text back as soon as we are free.
Both customers and employees expect immediate feedback to requests for information. As mobile productivity vendor Sitrion sees it:
“Mobile technology is the most direct means to reaching all your employees. Regardless of the employees you have–office based, field personnel, workers–research shows that, while they may not have a PC, over 85% of them have a mobile smartphone. Now you can tap into those devices to reach each individual employee and help them be informed, productive, and to enjoy their work.”
Chantal Tode, writing at Mobile Marketer, looks at the implications of better mobile communications. She says this calls for a “mobile-first” business model, a significant increase in the number of interactions among clients and employees, and a participatory design approach to product and service innovation using the insights of all stakeholders.
Good mobile workgroup communications mean a reduction of silos within a company, resulting in much better information flow throughout an organization, and more effective collaboration.
Economic benefits of mobile workgroup communications include:
- a reduction in the time needed to get the job done,
- a decrease in workspace costs,
- efficient product development,
- increased productivity,
- better customer service,
- better access to global markets, and
- benefits to the environment because of reduced travel.
It also means that people can be recruited for their competencies, not just a physical location. Most times, physical disabilities become irrelevant because of a disabled employee’s ability to work from home in a virtual team.
Have you set up and implemented a mobile communications strategy? Let us know how you’re doing.
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