23 Replies Latest reply on Oct 8, 2009 8:08 AM by PHPGator

    Thoughts on a mobile access to communities

      Many companies are looking to enable social networking sites for access via mobile devices such as the iphone or Blackberry. Taking into consideration the limitations of mobile devices, what features would you like to see available within a mobile UI? Additionally, what common mobile use cases does your organization have for social networking sites and communities?

        • Re: Thoughts on a mobile access to communities

          Hi Cameron,


          This is an interesting question and one we contemplate quite frequently at EMC.


          With the workforce becoming more and more mobile, we face the challenge of not being able to deliver mobile functionality to our sales force, and we miss out on the knowledge they could bring to the table because of this. As such, we were very pleased to see the Advanced Email Plugin from Jive (although we have not implemented yet) because of the mobile access gaps it bridges by enabling creation and reply to features via email.


          That said, there are some mixed feelings about the type and quality of participation that might result in a user's ability to perform functions via email in a seemingly siloed fashion. For example, if a user is creating a wiki or replying to a singular (and implicitly fragmented) discussion thread via email, aren't they possibly missing out on the larger benefit of belonging to a community of users if they choose this as their regular participation mechanism?


          Couldn't one argue that the user would possibly get greater benefit by being on the site, searching on something first, and then creating their wiki or discussion thread after they find that what they are looking for does not exist? It seems to me that it possibly waivers on the line between a collaboration community and a community whose focus is pushing content to the masses with less collaboration.


          Our motto for EMC|ONE (our internal instance of Clearspace) is Think. Search. Write.


          We encourage our users to first think about what it is that interests them, then search on it to see if there's already information out there, and finally write - whether it be contributing to existing discussions and wikis or creating brand new ones. This motto might be lost on our users if we find a large portion of the population stops going to the community itself and instead opts to participate via email only. Now, I don't know what the chances of that are...but it's certainly a possibility with such a mobile and global workforce.


          So, what would we like to see available wihtin a mobile UI?

          1. Personally, I love exactly what you guys are offering via the email plug-in - creation and replying/commenting of wikis, blogs and discussions, so I'd love to see that play out more fully in a mobile UI instead of it being limited to email functionality.
          2. Getting back to our motto, I'd love to see search of some function be available on a mobile UI. Perhaps it could not be as robust as it is on the web browser, but there should be some search functionality.


          Just my thoughts for now...will share more as they occur.




          • Re: Thoughts on a mobile access to communities

            From the limited amount that I know about 2.5, it sounds like you may have largely addressed our mobile needs.  The ability to post content and respond to content via email.  I am not quite sure I understand how that all works though, as we're not on 2.5 yet.

            • Re: Thoughts on a mobile access to communities

              Thanks for the feedback. Working smoothly with email will always be a priority for Jive but I am interested in what type of experience we can actually deliver for a mobile user with regards to social networking and collaboration. Your idea on search is definitely a requirement and the ability to quickly respond to discussions and comment on wikis is also neccesary. However, how much content do we think a person can create via a mobile device. Do we actually expect people to blog from a blackberry? I see the mobile device as more of a dashboard to the social network. It allows people to keep track of everything that is going on within the community from wherever they might be located. Thus, it is a very focused on consumption of information vs. creation of content. For example a sales person is sitting in the meeting and a comment comes up on how to do "x" with a product. Instead of saying "I'll get back to you on that" he could post a quick question to the community from his blackberry of iphone and wihthin a few minutes see the stream of responses coming in. He could then email a pdf of the entire discussion to the customer for further review. Do you have any other pressing use cases like this?

              • Re: Thoughts on a mobile access to communities

                I came across an article on eMarketer today saying that by 2012 they predict 800 million people will be accessing social networks on their phones.  Here's the entire article.


                Our sales team could benefit from being able to search our company directory & documents and watch our videos via mobile.  I look forward to seeing how Clearspace will integrate with the Blackberry and iPhone in the future.

                • Re: Thoughts on a mobile access to communities

                  To answer your question is that it works very well. In short, discussion threads and blogs come with their own email address. You can sign up to view discussion threads via email notifications. The email notifications come directly from the unique email address for that discussion thread which you simply reply to in order to add another response to the discussion.

                  • Re: Thoughts on a mobile access to communities

                    HI Jennifer, we should talk on the phone about this. With regards to your sales teams are they predominantly Blackberry users or do you have a bunch of iphone users as well? What does IT support?

                    • Re: Thoughts on a mobile access to communities

                      Hi Cameron -


                      While I think the examples you propose above are the norm, I do see some instances of our sales reps blogging frmo their BlackBerry devices.  this capability allows them to provide updates from the conventions / meeting they're at, especially when the entire team isn't able to be in the same place.


                      That said, I do believe that our reps will more often use their BlackBerry devices in the ways you mention below - i.e. when in a meeting and they don't have an answer to a question, they could ask the community; while on the road, they can keep in touch with the community by replying to the email notifications they receive, etc.


                      I also think the UI is important as folks may not always have email notifications turned on.  I think the most important thing here will be the ability to quickly / easily upload documents, photos and videos..  Search is also a big one.


                      More to come as I think of it!


                      • Re: Thoughts on a mobile access to communities

                        Can you talk more about uploading documents? Are you suggesting that a sales rep would have a document on their Blackberry and they would want to upload it to the community? When would they need to do this? The feedback on blogging is important and I definitely could see a micro-bloogging functionality being important with the mobile devices.

                        • Re: Thoughts on a mobile access to communities

                          I'd say they would probably be more apt to upload photos / video, but possibly some documents - for instance if they got an email with a document attached and wanted to upload that.  But now that I think a bit more about it, viewing various types of documents would probably be used more than uploading documents.

                          • Re: Thoughts on a mobile access to communities

                            If you had to choose Blackberry or Iphone access to your community, what would be your choice?

                            • Re: Thoughts on a mobile access to communities

                              I responded to this by email but it didn't stick.  For us, it would be hands down Blackberry.  The iPhone is only a couple of months old in Canada, and Canada has the highest penetration of Blackberry users in the world -- Blackberry is ubiquitous among our user members.


                              Some research should be done on iPhone penetration among business users before going down that path, me thinks.

                              • Re: Thoughts on a mobile access to communities

                                I agree completely. The Blackberry is fairly synonymous as the business user's mobile device. However, this market is still very young and who knows what the next couple of years will provide. Forrester provides some decent research on mobile OS platforms which you can check out if you have an account.



                                • Re: Thoughts on a mobile access to communities

                                  Most groups in our organization use Blackberries, but one group of 100-200 people use Treos.  But I keep reading about predictions that employees will increasingly demand Apple product support from their employers, so that's why I keep iPhone on the table.

                                  • Re: Thoughts on a mobile access to communities

                                    The goal should be equal access, regardless of location, so focus on a mobile GUI - maybe just a search box as someone already suggested and a "My Mobile View" where a user can create hyperlink shortcuts to their favorite discussions, groups, etc. Get the mobile GUI 1.0 out there sooner rather than later - the feedback should provide plenty of 1.1 ideas.


                                    2-way email capability is really a crutch for starting communities and email addicts. Once a community hits full speed, the community email notices will seem like "eHail" and people will be diving for cover, trying to turn it off! If you can make a mobile GUI where it's hard to tell who online is working from a desktop, a notebook, or a cellphone, then you will have created equal access and a true virtual community.



                                    • Re: Thoughts on a mobile access to communities

                                      Of course, T-Mobile would like to include Android in this list per Cole Brodeman




                                      Personally, I think the following user story has many of the points that I would think ideal to include in corporate social networking such as 'one time sign on' and 'everywhere integration':




                                      And... this might be interesting for this audience:



                                      • Re: Thoughts on a mobile access to communities

                                        If you are looking at reaching broader audiences in emerging markets I wonder if SMS messaging rather than email is a more ubiquitous service in cell phones.  Emerging markets tend to face connectivity challenges and a shortage of PC clients so this would help address both of those issues.

                                        • Re: Thoughts on a mobile access to communities

                                          On a tangent, sorry.  But I think that more important than uploading content is access to content.


                                          Our people want the ability to easily find, and especially forward content from the community via a mobile device to others both inside and outside the community.   They may not necessarily need (or want) the "rich content" experience to accomplish this type of activity esspecially if they already are familiar with the content itself, mostly the desire is to have information readily available "in your pocket" and available to share with others in real-time.


                                          The common story I hear is from sales or service reps on location with a customer where they might not have a laptop or it would be innaproprate to boot up (i.e. in a meeting) but they know relevant information is available in the community.   The user wants the ability to search and locate the content then simply forward to thier customer without having to download to the mobile device.    If the recipient was a presenter and has thier email available, for example, they could discuss the content in real time and avoid creating additional follow-ups.

                                          • Re: Thoughts on a mobile access to communities

                                            Yes, SMS is ubiquitous but a very limited technology. 


                                            There is a charecter limit in SMS (in a GSM network its 160) and there is no support for hyperlinks etc.   All converged devices support email by definition and some are now even supporting rich text, I think the focus on email is most appropriate.


                                            I can see SMS as a form of chat where immediate responses are expected or to alert a user to updates who could then connect via PC to view content.   I wouldn't mind being able to turn on SMS notifications on a per-post basis if the content was extremely time sesitive but I can't imagine that it would actually contain the content itself, more like: "XXXX in the XXXX space has been updated"

                                            • Re: Thoughts on a mobile access to communities

                                              Thanks for the information Chad.  I was thinking in terms of reaching users that SMS was more ubiquitous.  I definitely agree the use model is more synchoronous, but was also considering that the cost of email service on a cell phone may restrict access to a lot of users (we are not targeting business clients with Blackberries, etc.).

                                              • Re: Thoughts on a mobile access to communities
                                                this capability allows them to provide updates from the conventions / meeting they're at


                                                I can think of several times when I've been on a business trip and had an idea I wanted to post, but wasn't able to whip out my laptop and connect with my Aircard to log into Clearspace.


                                                Would've been great to have an email address that I could've sent a blurp to from my Blackberry, and have that be converted into a blog post (functionality that we're playing with some internally at Jive in plugin form).