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20 October 2017

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VoIP News – Mobility and its Impact on Collaboration

Messaging and the mobility this brings us has been with us for some time, but mostly as a minor application that brings some convenience to our workflows, but not much more. Some technologies lose relevance when better technologies come along, especially if they don’t evolve and develop new use cases.

To be fair, these new technologies aren’t necessarily better – CD audio is clearly inferior to analog high fidelity – they can also gain adoption because they enable a new or better user experience, such as portability for your music.


The same applies to messaging. Initially, messaging platforms were used for one-to-one communication, and with presence, it added efficiency to the process. This was, in fact, an improvement over email, which was the next best thing for near real-time communication. However, messaging hasn’t replaced email, and aside from its basic limitations, another reason is its standalone nature.

Until recently, messaging was used simply for that purpose – to quickly exchange messages. With the advent of Unified Communications, messaging has remained relevant by becoming integrated with other applications and processes. With UC being used to drive collaboration, messaging would have fallen out of favor by remaining standalone, and its basic functions would have been addressed in other ways as part of a UC platform.

The rise of mobility – by the numbers

In a roundabout way, this brings us to mobility. Focusing solely on the factors driving the growth of messaging is important, and it does go a long way to understanding how messaging impacts collaboration. However, making decisions on this basis alone about collaboration isn’t enough. Independent of what messaging brings to the workplace, mobility is on a track of its own. The business value of messaging is actually closely tied to mobility, so the two must be considered.

We all know that the world is going mobile, but a closer look at the trends will help IT think more strategically not just about how to use messaging, but also why. Collaboration remains a moving target, but if one thing is clear, it’s the need to ensure mobility is central to the experience.

While data reflects consumer usage of digital media, the basic findings apply to the workplace, especially given how fluid these spaces are becoming. With BYOD, it’s becoming futile for IT to restrict personal activity in the office, and by the same token, businesses expect workers to be accessible during off-hours. Mobility is very much at the heart of this, and while it gives consumers unprecedented control over their digital experiences, it also creates a seemingly always-on connection back to the office. With said, here are two implications from the chart for your collaboration plans.

1. Workers are spending more time using digital media than engaging in-person. This trend has been steadily growing, and for 2016, the level was 5.6 hours a day. While the data doesn’t account for how the rest of our time is spent, it’s clearly a lot of time, and whether using smartphones or PCs, this is where most collaboration will be taking place.

2. Since 2011, the flip between those two digital modes has been dramatic. PC usage was more than 3X over mobility, but within two years, mobility had caught up to PCs. Since then, PC usage has remained fairly flat, but mobility keeps climbing, reaching 3.1 hours a day in 2016. Desks and PCs aren’t disappearing any time soon, but this trend validates the need to become more “mobile-centric”.


Implications for messaging

Digital media is at the heart of a collaboration platform, and as per the above, much of that activity will occur on a handheld device. This often means that workers – or customers – will not be in ideal settings to get their business done. They certainly won’t be sitting at a comfortable desk in a quiet office. Mobile or remote settings often have a host of challenges that make the time of the essence – noisy environment, in a hurry, low battery, limited access to information, to name a few.

Keeping in mind the growing trend towards mobility, it’s important to note that none of these challenges will disappear – they’re just inherent to the mobile experience. All of these challenges speak to the need to communicate quickly and efficiently; and these being the hallmarks of messaging, it should be clear why messaging has a central role to play as collaboration becomes mobile-centric.

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