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Surprising Findings About Mobile Worker Collaboration

The last few months have seen a spate of end of year surveys and forward-looking prediction reports that examine the workplace ‘digital transformation’ to a more collaborative work environment with greater worker mobility. Below, I have captured some of the report highlights, providing links to the studies that can be accessed online.

A recent Avanade-sponsored survey of over 600 C-suite executives uncovered some surprising business trends: 

  • 88% of executives report employees are using their personal devices for business purposes today. While the ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) trend has been a popular topic lately, 88% is a much higher number than one might expect.
  • Very few executives (just 20%) believe that allowing personal computing technologies in the workplace will benefit recruitment and retention efforts for younger workers.
  • Over 40% of people using mobile devices for work purposes are using them for more than email and social networking; they are actually using them to run business applications ‘anytime/anywhere.’
  • The most popular mobile technology in the workplace is Android, NOT Apple.

An ABI Research study on worker mobility and enterprise social collaboration found that:

  • The enterprise social collaboration sector will reach $3.5 billion by 2016, up from just under $1 billion in 2012
  • A key factor driving wider social and mobile adoption within the enterprise is that workers say they enjoy and benefit from these technologies when not at work
  • A wide range of vendors are currently offering (or building) solutions that sport "compelling social features" which can be used to integrate seamlessly with Microsoft SharePoint to address a wide range of important and real-time collaboration needs.

Gartner Research studies released in November 2011 predict that:

  • By 2016, at least 50% of enterprise email users will rely primarily on a browser, tablet or mobile client, instead of a desktop client.
  • By 2015, 35% of enterprise IT expenditures for most organizations will be managed outside the IT department's budget.
  • By 2014, 30 of the most popular 100 Web applications will work online or off.
A recent Cap Gemini/MIT survey of 157 executives in large (over $1 billion in revenue) found that: 
  • The number one reason for adopting a more collaborative work environment is related to competition. Employee pressure to change is actually quite small.
  • 66% of companies are using some form of mobile applications for operations
  • 52% of companies are using some form of social media for operations.
  • The three top reasons why companies are finding it hard to implement tools like analystics, mobile technology, and social media for business are: missing skills (77%), cultural issues (55%), and ineffective IT (50%). It is clear that changing people’s work habits represent the biggest impediment to technology change.

It is crystal-clear that there is a frenzy of interest in organizations moving towards a more collaborative work environment, but the challenges to doing so are not straightforward. Business drivers like competition appear to be more important than catering to the younger Facebook generation, at least for the moment. Also, it is clear that there is an interest in using collaborative tools for more than just email and social networking; running real business applications anytime/anywhere offers enormous potential for improving business productivity. But, as always, worker reticence to changing work habits is the biggest impediment to adopting new technologies.

My conclusion? Smart companies will look for ways to adapt their workforce gradually to new tools and processes, rather than introduce disruptive solutions.

Follow me on Twitter @dlavenda.

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[Flickr user Josh Liba]