Monthly Archives: November 2011

The Importance of Open Standards

Recently Adobe announced that it is going to drop support for its Flash Player on mobile devices.  Although this was not a complete surprise it still caused uncertainty for developers and organizations delivering content to mobile devices. It turns out that the latest HTML5 standard delivers most, if not all, of the Flash Player capabilities without the need for a special Flash Player mobile application.

This announcement is also a distraction for organizations that selected a collaborative solution based on the Flash Player.  Time and time again organizations suffer when they select solutions that are based on proprietary technologies instead of open standards.  It’s becoming too expensive for companies to develop and support their proprietary solutions whenever a comparable supported standard is available.

If you’re in the market to introduce a collaborative environment or looking to replace your current environment, you should use this announcement as a reminder to choose a product that’s based on industry standards.  When looking at the delivery mechanism for the collaborative solution you should make sure that the delivery is web based for all of your traditional devices.  An app offering is acceptable for a mobile delivery; however, it’s important to confirm that the app is easily and readily acceptable to your entire mobile community.  In addition, for large organizations, it’s possible that the collaborative environments will need to be interconnected with a collaborative environment elsewhere either now or in the future.  For these situations, it’s important that the solution implements either XMPP or SIMPLE so that these environments can interoperate.  And finally, if audio and video is required, the solution should include support for Voice Over IP (VOIP) along with connectivity to a Private Branch eXchange (PBX) to bridge calls to traditional voice communications.

Whether it’s for collaborative technologies or any other software solution, select a product that is based on standards supported by a well known consortium such as the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).  By selecting a product that uses a standard you are assured that the product will interoperate with other products and increase the likely-hood that it will be supported in the future. Thus reducing that chance of being caught in a situation similar to those currently delivering Flash content to mobile devices.

Implementing A Mobile Collaborative Solution

There’s no denying it – our world is becoming more and more mobile and this is placing more demands on our IT organization. According to Chris Tengwall, CEO of LRW, a company that specializes in secure wireless solutions, “Collaboration makes sense only if you can access people, and today people are on the road.” Deciding how an organization is going to collaborate in a mobile world then becomes a key question. When you consider your enterprise today, you must include mobile devices in your architecture. How are you going to serve your applications securely to your mobile users? Providing services to mobile devices places a significant demand on IT resources.    The following are some guidelines to consider when deploying collaborative technologies to mobile devices.

Screen real estate becomes even more important when you have employees doing work remotely on netbooks, tablets, or smartphones. Only so much space is available on a screen, and even less space on a mobile device, so choosing the collaborative capabilities that are best suited for a particular application, without overloading it, is important.  If adding collaboration capabilities limits the amount of screen real estate for the components of the application required for employees to perform their work, users will leave the collaborative capabilities to perform their work tasks. Instead, the end goal is to marry the collaborative technologies with the applications.

As more users work from secure mobile devices, you need collaboration services that are accessible from both their desktops and their mobile devices. In addition, the user interfaces for the mobile devices must allow users to have collaboration at their fingertips without interfering with the functionality of their other tools. You must ensure that your enterprise applications will work intuitively on the many devices employees use and that they will be able to work from them as if they were in the office.

Finally, the collaborative technology should indicate device and bandwidth limitations.  Although the latest mobile technologies have increased bandwidth, they are still not at the 100 MB or 1GB network speeds at the desktop.  Nor is the processing power of these mobile devices. Because of this, the collaborative technology should report to end users whenever users are using these devices to properly throttle the use of these resources.

Whether you’re using a cell phone, a tablet, or a computer device, collaboration should be an extension of the primary work at hand. It should be readily available, but it should never overshadow the main task. Instead, it should make performing the main task easier for users. By selecting which capabilities are appropriate and where they are appropriate, you can be sure that collaboration will fit into your employees’ daily tasks seamlessly and unobtrusively.