Collaboration Apps to Spread From Mobile to Desktop: Gartner

Personal cloud file synchronization and sharing services are expanding in scope and capabilities, driven by smart devices and tablets.

Most collaboration applications will be equally available on desktops, mobile phones, tablets and browsers by 2016, according to a report by IT research firm Gartner, as mobile applications have transformed the Internet from a Web-centric to an app-centric model.

Mobile collaboration can take place in specialized corporate apps for selected workforces that use mobile devices heavily in their job--involving both internal peers, as well as external people such as partners or end customers--and regardless of what technologies or architectures are used to build them, mobile apps have become the primary entry point for individuals to access and consume complex information and functionality.

"In the past, collaboration on mobile devices meant interaction through wireless messaging and voice calls," Monica Basso, research vice president at Gartner, said in a statement. "Today, smartphones and tablets have larger screens, touch-based user interfaces (UIs), location support, broad network connectivity, enhanced cameras and video support, voice over IP (VoIP), and so on. Such features enable a range of applications—both traditional and new—for employees to better communicate, collaborate, socialize, create and consume content."

The report projected that the selective fragmentation and lack of standardization that currently limits the effectiveness of collaboration apps is set to mature over the next three to five years to the point where every business will be using mobile collaboration to empower workers, make them more productive and engage customers in better interactions.

Gartner analysts cited the growing bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend, which allows employees to bring their personal devices for use at work. Employees who bring their own consumer smartphones and tablets to work initially ask for and receive support for corporate email, calendar and contacts. Before long, they begin to use other apps that make it easier to get their jobs done.

"Empowering workers with mobile collaboration capabilities through smart devices, personal cloud sharing and mobile apps is a smart move for organizations to innovate in the workplace and stay competitive," Basso continued. "Nevertheless, a number of challenges can arise from piecemeal, poorly architected implementations. Successful deployments of mobile collaboration will need an analysis of business requirements—understanding the potential risks and restrictions while assessing existing investments and obsolescence trends."

Personal cloud file synchronization and sharing services are expanding in scope and capabilities, driven by smart devices and tablets. Gartner predicts that by 2016, the average personal cloud will synchronize and orchestrate at least six different device types, as people need to move files such as documents, audio, pictures and videos across their multiple mobile devices, PCs, network drives and other storage repositories.

"Mobile devices enable a new generation of collaboration and three trends are rapidly boosting mobile collaboration strategies and investments in organizations,” Basso said. “These are BYOD, personal cloud file sharing and the increasing availability of mobile applications."