The Intranet Revolution: How Mobile Devices Are Conquering the Classical Intranet.

The Apocalypse is now!

This article is a summary of the original work, written by Jussi Mori and Christoph Müller for the SharePoint Kompendium 4.14.

If you talk nowadays about the “Mobile Intranet”, you talk about accessing Intranet Websites from the comfort of your mobile phone. However as nice as this may be, it is only partly solving the needs of the end user. Mobile users would rather have access to say a mobile note board in SAP, or possibly see a list of all currently available meeting rooms on the floor they are on.

The high acceptance of mobile devices and the still rather weak integration of those devices into the company’s Intranet, are leading dangerously to another domain of “shadow IT”. The repercussion of this is that true integration of mobile devices into Intranets will not be seen as an extension of their current system, but rather as a replacement of it.

Intranet Revolution

Todays Intranets are very good at building social connections, which display content in activity streams. However, activity streams are often perceived as unnecessary “noise”, that don’t appear to generate true value for the user. Current Intranets are not very good at connecting data between different user applications. There are still too many information silos at the heart of current Enterprises.

In the Intranet of the future, a user will store and receive information over different Enterprise Cloud Apps; the so called API economy. The Intranet of the future will also act as a “Service Layer”, whose role is to help the user to do his or her work independently, without location or platform restrictions.

This means that future Intranet’s will not be perceived as an Intranets by the users, because they will “only” be consuming tailored services rather than raw data.

For example a users could receive a ‘menu of the day’ tip from the cantina as they walk near by. Or in a company lobby, users could get current bus schedules, car-sharing services or could call a taxi with one click of a button.
When a user is away from the office, all connections to essential company data could be restricted until the user is back in the office the next morning.

Another advantage of using mobile Apps is the impressively high levels of user acceptance. Many people now run different aspects of their (daily) private lives using Apps. This is because mobile apps are simplifying the way that we connect to information on a complicated backend system.

Additional information can always be presented in a certain context. The same services are also possible using standard desktop browser applications, but the small screen of the mobile phone is forcing the app designer to really focus in on what’s most important to the user, then applying that to the UX and UI features.

In the Enterprise mobility sector it is important to focus on solving specific business-critical problems, rather than following the classic informational displaying structures on a mobile device.

Let’s look a bit on the “dark side” of mobiles in an enterprise today.

The high acceptance and distribution of mobile devices has lead to the existence of a “shadow IT” in many organisations. Many employees are using WhatsApp groups to talk about Business relevant topics. For the user this yields high benefits, but for the company, as it does not have access to all WhatsApp conversations between its employees, it has a blind spot!

Another drawback is poor mobile integration to current IT systems. Today you would need to create a dedicated app for every Backend system available and providing a service. Sooner or later you would have an App overflow and the potential clutter of Information would be overwhelming.

The annual hot topic is of course (always) Data Security. Recently, lively debating has been going on about data security in the cloud, and ultimately about safely consuming that data through mobile devices. This also means that in enterprise environments you would need to find the right balance between data security and seamless user experience.

Most of today’s mobile services are cloud driven. As is often the case, organisations are still reluctant to rely fully on storing data in the cloud or a federation of cloud partner companies. It is still hard for companies to differentiate between private and corporate usage on a mobile device. Since mobile devices are usually very personal devices as well.

Another consideration is around the hyper connectivity of employees. It’s much harder to switch off from work during free time, which is leading to raising stress levels and absences due to burnouts. The mobile enterprise industry is still trying to find effective solutions to combat this serious issue.

New standards need to be created that will enable secure and simple use of mobile devices within enterprises. From this you could create an integrated Resource Management system, which reaches outside the borders of the organisation. Users can easily switch between private and corporate mobile device use. Business processes can be simplified and accelerated/optimised which will have a positive impact on the employee’s productivity as well as that of the whole enterprise.

Conclusion – Enterprise as a Service

To summarise, the above issues are relating to the impending demise of the current, classic mobile intranet of today, and will sooner or later be gone from our lives. Future Intranet user will have a different relationship with ‘their’ dedicated Apps and services than we do now. Todays Intranet will be replaced by a Intelligent Service Layer, which will be providing and combining data to users in the right context at the right time.

The outcome of a development like this is vast. It doesn’t matter what visions we are discussing today, the time of monolithic server-architecture has come to an end. The Service-Layer we have been describing will make available one of the most positive and mind-blowing range of opportunities that business and technology will have witnessed.

Architectural monsters like SharePoint 2013, (which is effectively capable of doing everything), will never be enough to fulfil all the requirements of the business and its employees. To make the first step into a service-oriented mobile era, it wont be enough to add some clever processes on top of an existing infrastructure. The explosive growth of mobile applications and the vast distribution of smart phones, as well as publicly available APIs, are showing us which direction the world of mobile IT is headed towards.

An Intranet service layer is the next positive, logical milestone to be reached from these developments. Not a return to monolithic, complex multi-tier products.

This will require the sort of dedication and expertise befitting of such an architectural masterpiece, but the high yield of high end user acceptance and motivation is definitely worth the effort and risk!

About the Author: Jussi Mori is a SharePoint server MVP for 2014 and is co-founder and managing partner of Peaches Industries Finland. After having studied IT in Zurich Switzerland, Jussi started to work as Notes Developer and Application Manager for Swisscom Ltd. in Zurich. After having worked there for several years Jussi changed to a smaller Company named Interact Consulting AG creating complex OCR and Scanning solutions for many organizations in the central European region. In Spring 2008 Jussi decided to found a company together with his friend and business partner Christoph MÃller, with whom together he runs the Portal Company Peaches Industries GmbH. Jussi’s speciality are SharePoint End-User productivity, Change-, Project management and Training.

Intranet Revolution by Jussi Mori

Jussi Mori


You can follow Jussi on Twiter!

Share this on...

Rate this Post: