The Enterprise Social War Will be Won on Mobile

“From my cold dead hands” is really what most of us would say if we had to part with our smartphones. Our mobile phones (especially the smart ones) have almost become virtual extensions of our body and an essential part of our day-to-day business and personal lives.

Of Facebook’s 845 million monthly active users, more than half of them accessed the social network through mobile apps. It’s similar in the enterprise as well. Over the course of the last couple of years I have had discussions with several mid to large sized enterprises (ranging from folks in IT to HR to KM teams) and its evident that mobile is a critical for social or any other enterprise wide initiative.

For any social platform to really succeed in enabling a more connected workforce – there are some elements that are absolutely critical from a mobile standpoint.

1. BYOD Enabler – Mobile enablement is definitely in the top 3 priorities for most enterprises. Mobile is quickly becoming the primary interface of access and interaction. The Social applications need to be platform agnostic, from the latest iPhone and Android to the 3-year-old BlackBerry.  All the key features of social application need to be available on the mobile platform for users across the globe to be able to connect and collaborate.

2. Location-based Context  – It’s evident that the additional dimension of “location” is going to be vital in providing the next level of relevant streams of information. Whether it is getting the latest gate information for a gate agent based on her location or providing a list of experts for a drilling scientist who’s out in the field, getting the right information at the right place in the right context is going be critical for an engaging social experience on the mobile phone.

3. KISS (Keep it simple, stupid) – One of the recurring themes that we are hearing is “The social application has got to be simple” – simple to install, configure and for users to use.” Large enterprises can’t afford to train 1000’s of employees. The social tool needs to be intuitive without the need for user manuals. Posting a message should be easy without users having to think twice about whether to post a question, idea, suggestion, blog or wiki. The Web and Mobile user interface should be optimized based on the key functions users perform.

4. Enterprise Ready – Security and Privacy are critical, especially when it comes to mobile apps. The social platform should provide for mobile access that can tie to the enterprise AD as well as provide for a familiar Single Sign On experience.  Enterprises are starting to invest in Mobile Device Management(MDM) for global rollout and it becomes even more imperative to be able to tie into these MDM solutions.  As important as it is to provide for a rich mobile application, it’s equally important to ensure it ties into the overall enterprise mobile security guidelines.

As the enterprise social market is heating up – we firmly believe mobile will be the primary interface for access and interaction for most enterprise users. The real product that will win the enterprise social platform war will not be the one with the most features, but the one that connects, engages, and provides the most value to the user on their mobile phones.