I haven’t been very public about where I’ve been or what I’ve been up to. The truth is after a few years of doing the SharePoint thing I found myself asking “How am I truly helping people and business?” Nothing I was doing in SharePoint was helping workers. Companies were hiring me to do the same lame stuff over and over again. This was on top of a less than graceful midlife crisis which saw me divorced, broke, and half way across the world with 3 more kids than I started with. I figured while I had the opportunity I would step back, focus on my family, and collect my thoughts.
The first attempt to get back into it was a little venture called SnapWorkSocial. We all saw how social was changing how we communicated and it was only a matter of time before it became ubiquitous in the enterprise. But while I was smart enough to see the coming revolution, I wasn’t resourceful enough to capitalize on it. I ended up building an amazing, easy to use social product that integrated with SharePoint better than anything out there, but just as we were about to release Microsoft decided to make the bold move to buy Yammer. At that point it became very difficult to convince customers to buy anything social for SharePoint that wasn’t Microsoft. With hosting and development costs racking up I decided that it was better to pull the plug than try to swim upstream in that torrent. I wonder how NewsGator is doing 😉
At first I was optimistic that we would find a way to stay relevant, but as weeks gave into months I realized that wasn’t happening. Disgruntled and broke, I looked around for other opportunities, but after being burned a few times you start to get a bit trigger shy. This is when I started experimenting with mobile.
Mobile is amazing. We walk and drive around with all this power in our pocket. Connectivity is nearly ubiquitous now. The average device is now as powerful as the average laptop was 4 years ago with nearly as much resolution. This is why I’m dismayed.
I’m dismayed that even though I have all this power in my pocket it goes unused. Ask yourself, what do you do with your phone? Check email? Browse your company social feed? A very famous computer scientist once said I hate (devices). It’s all about consuming, not producing and he’s totally right! (I’m looking for the quote)
Why can’t you produce on your device? Is it the form factor? Is it the lack of hardware keyboards/mice? Or is it simply that the apps that are available don’t translate well to productive experiences?
There are great experiences on the phone. With Mailbox I can achieve inbox zero which is a great feeling. The truth is that mobile isn’t there yet for the productivity worker, but then why are all these workers BYOD’ing? There must be something compelling about it. The truth is I think BYOD at the moment is about 2 things. 1. The consumer in us is impressed with our consumer device experience so much that we understand inherently how it could improve our work experience and 2. We are addicted to control and mobile devices help us stay in control by keeping us informed.
So I can consume well on my mobile, but what about producing? Certainly your company didn’t hire you to be a consumer. It want’s you to produce. The truth is the apps we have available today are not able to make us ‘productive’ producers on our devices. In part 2 I will discuss the barriers to mobile productivity and show how app maturity and worker expectations are overcoming those barriers.