Taking your intranet mobile might seem like a simple task. But the truth is that there are certain crucial challenges to be met. One of the most important is to first decide which functions and information your organization should feature as part of its mobile intranet.

A mobile device isn't just one more channel for communication. The particular ways that mobile devices are being used have given rise to many entirely new time- and location-dependent use cases. For instance, airlines have made the complete ticketing process mobile; shopping (for anything!) is now a mobile experience; and who can even remember how it was possible to find their way around a foreign city without consulting a smartphone?

The Need for Information in the "Mobile Moment"

The "Mobile Moment" is the name that Forrester analysts have given to these times when having specific information available on a mobile device becomes relevant to a user. Employees are no exception in experiencing these mobile moments. Think of situations when workers are on the road, in the field, or on the shop floor, in which practical information, easily available on a mobile device, would be beneficial.

Information-Sharing Opportunities in the Mobile Moment

There's a special type of mobile moment that's not explicitly described by Forrester, but one that deserves just as much attention as those times when mobile users are in need of specific information. These moments are especially important from a business perspective. Think of the numerous periods during the day that people spend waiting, whether it's on the subway during a daily commute, or in the last five minutes of a lunch break. How often have you seen people take out their smartphones in these moments? Doing so has almost become second nature.

These moments are an excellent opportunity to share one or two bits of useful work-related information. 67% of smartphone owners find themselves checking their phones for messages, alerts, or calls—even if they haven't noticed their phones ringing or vibrating. The motivation here isn't the need for specific information, but rather the opportunity to receive general information.

Anyone who regularly uses public transportation can observe just how pervasive this effect has become. American adults age 18–29 are now just as likely to get their news from their mobile devices as from their television. Another astounding example comes from Facebook, who had an incredible 1.15 billion mobile daily active users in December 2016.

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Given the two examples described above, usage of the mobile channel can generally be divided into two cases: Need and Opportunity. By classifying the best mobile applications, we can further exemplify this view.

Which Applications Should Be Mobile-Supported?

Modern intranets have collaboration functions and features that support use cases such as knowledge work, networking, and project management. Some examples of these features include virtual workspaces, advanced directory profiles, or document libraries. Such a variety of tools often make these systems complicated and confusing, especially for mobile users. Suffice it to say that not everything offered by the modern digital workplace is suitable for use on mobile devices.

use_cases_intranet_s

Communication

Communication is extremely important in today's work environment. Companies generally don’t have problems when it comes to coordinating work assignments. The catch is that employees need to see and understand the big picture. They demand to be aware of what's happening to the left and right of their desks, and to know why it's happening. This major assignment has long been the responsibility of a company intranet, newsletters, or employee magazines.

The good news is that with a mobile version of the intranet, communicators have a completely new and effective way to provide regular information to employees of all age groups and divisions, as well as the opportunity to make it available to everyone in their individual mobile moments.

Target group: All employees

Complexity: Low

Security requirements: Low

Mobile moment: Information opportunity

Information

An overview of common intranet content would reveal loads of static information such as work instructions, employee contact information, and descriptions of corporate locations. The point is that there are often thousands of content pages within a large corporate intranet, and making them all available in a mobile option isn't likely to offer any added value.

The key question to ask is: Which information is most important to a majority of your employees and should be easy to access—assuming it's not security critical.

Target group: All employees

Complexity: Medium

Security requirements: Low

Mobile moment: Specific information needs

Collaboration

Sensitive information created in the process of collaborating on projects presents a compelling argument against making everything in your intranet available on mobile.

On the one hand is the issue of information security—company-critical information and documents need to be protected. And even making confidential information password protected on private devices won't be an option for many companies.

On the other hand, a majority of projects are about knowledge-work and content creation. They're not about consumption. Mobile devices will clearly have their limits here. For example, who uses a smartphone or a tablet when writing a long text? (An exception to this rule is team collaboration on projects, where the aim is often to distribute updates within the team and project environment.)

Target group: Information workers

Complexity: Medium to high

Security Requirements: Medium to high

Mobile moment: Information needs and opportunity

Processes

The mobilization of support processes such as invoice approvals, work schedules, time tracking, or vacation requests greatly depends on the characteristics of each process. The key question to ask is which ones are important to a majority of your employees, don't pose a security risk (and don't contain personal data), and have a time-critical component, which is to say that they need to be completed as quickly as possible.

Safety-critical core processes can also be handled well by mobile. Here especially, the ROI of a mobile intranet solution will be realized in terms of time-savings and an improved safety culture.

Target group: Process worker

Complexity: Medium to high

Security Requirements: Medium to high

Mobile moment: Specific reason/need

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The Future of the Digital Workplace

The mobile availability of information and services isn't a simple feature amongst many others, but a central and critical requirement of any effective mobile employee intranet. In order to be implemented successfully, the mobile content and technology of a digital workplace will need to be planned from the very start.

The future of the digital workplace won't be as a large cross-platform containing every single intranet application available. That would be to repeat the mistakes of those large "integration palaces" that required a great deal of time and money, only to result in a portal that employees ultimately couldn't or didn't want to use.

The way forward will see practical apps of all kinds compiled within an easy-to-navigate interface. Users can then easily identify and use the most suitable app for his or her specific needs.

The modern digital workplace will consist of single, standardized, but highly functional applications that are connected via basic services (e.g., home page, user directory, search function, navigation).

What have until recently been the long planning and design phases of a traditional intranet will give way to evergreen solutions with continuous updates of individual applications.

Certain applications will be easily accessible via mobile, while others will exist securely behind a corporate firewall.

The digital workplace will be technically and functionally up to speed with the latest consumer-grade trends and thus finally offer employees the kind of user experience they now demand.

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