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It is time for a mobile organizational portal

1 October 2016
Ella Antes

Back in 1931, Erich Kästner, in his 'The 35th of May', described a mobile phone. In 1973, Martin Cooper (who is considered the inventor of cellular technology) performed the first cellular conversation ever in the middle of 6th avenue to the shock and bewilderment of several New Yorkers passing by. In 2001, cell phones equipped with '3rd generation' technology were first marketed. That decade also saw the increasing popularity of Smartphones, devices which combine advanced features of a hand-held computer and (obviously) a cellular phone.

These days, our daily routines are very much Smartphone-based: meetings, appointments, emails, contacts are all managed via Smartphone. We take photos, search for information, perform different banking operations and communicate with several service providers via a variety of applications and manage most of our communicational needs (whether personal or business-oriented) by Smartphone. All data and service we need is usually only a few clicks away from anywhere, at any time.

Many organizations provide workers with different platforms for searching for information, performing tasks, conference calls. Of course, a main platform is the organizational portal, or its upgraded version the Digital Workspace. Yet many of these platforms are only available to workers on their desktop and the work experience as well as the data's accessibility aren't continuous or available at all times and places.

Worker's consuming habits are affected and driven by the possibilities and services available outside the workplace. Workers therefore expect a similar experience to be offered by the organization. Several reports show that nearly 30% of organizations already hold a mobile organizational portal. In case your organization is considering setting up a mobile-oriented organizational portal, the following questions should be discussed beforehand:

  • Should a mobile organizational portal be identical to its desktop counterpart? Perhaps it should include new and different content?

  • What is the main organizational need for a mobile organizational portal? What is its objective?

  • What populations will mainly use the mobile organizational portal? For example, who are the target audience: field personnel or all organization workers?

  • What role will the mobile organizational portal play? In what sense will it be different than the desktop portal?

  • Which organizational information contributes/gains added value by transmitting it via mobile?

  • What information is useful and valuable to most workers?

  • What are the main situations in which users will turn to the mobile portal? For example, during the lunch break.

  • What daily tasks enabled by Smartphone can be utilized for the organizational mobile portal?

  • How can we make sure that the content remains relevant and addresses workers' needs as well as business needs?

  • What content editing processes are optimal for an organizational mobile portal?

The answers given to these questions can assist us in planning milestones and a main outline for this project. I would like to note that usually organizations initiate an organizational mobile portal project after a rich and active desktop portal exists. Another approach offers a 'Mobile first' strategy: first start the organizational portal with a mobile-responsive website or an application, only then develop the full desktop version. This approach is heavily based on UI and design aspects.

By the way, if you don't already have an organizational portal, this approach presents a meaningful advantage regarding the amount of effort required (compared to the desktop portal) in order to substantially affect the organization.

The bottom line is this: there is no doubt that mobile devices are an inseparable part of our lives, routine and habits and it is therefore recommended to organizations to consider this issue in intra-organizational context and review how the new generation of intra-organizational communication (at all times, from all places) can be best planned.


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