Making SharePoint Content Mobile-Friendly

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The explosive growth of mobile and social technology is no surprise when considering how we interact with others on a day-to-day basis. New technologies have provided us with the ability to organize groups of individuals and connect better than ever before.

It’s not just a vehicle for connecting with old friends or keeping up with the latest celebrity news, but rather a powerful tool that helps people unite, mobilize, and act on a global scale.

Given the vast impact smartphones, tablets, and social platforms have made on our personal lives, is there a way for enterprises to leverage this evolution of interaction in their business operations?

More importantly, how can organizations integrate this idea into already-established platforms in order to reduce disruption? Here a few steps to consider when trying to make your SharePoint-enabled organization mobile-friendly:

Step 1: Identify your users

Knowing your users is pivotal in creating an effective plan to simplify the way they work. Age, technical skills, types of devices, types of operating systems, and other factors can play large roles in mobility purchasing decisions.

Feasibility studies can help identify key aspects of your user base and how effective a mobile solution may be to easing your workload. Considering the following research in this preliminary step:

  • Business value versus technology value
  • Freedom versus security
  • Stakeholder input
  • User acceptance testing (UAT)

Step 2: Determine the user experience

Addressing user experience is necessary to ensuring you provide measurable benefits with this implementation and spur user adoption. How easily something can be accessed through this new platform could mean the difference between complete user acceptance and a wasted budget.

When web technology wasn’t as sophisticated as it is now, it was a common practice to provide mobile users with a separate mobile website to optimize their experience. Navigating to the site using a mobile device caused the main website to detect the use of a mobile device and automatically redirect the visitor to the mobile version.

Now, organizations reuse content across device channels to simplify the management process and cut costs. This can also be achieved by utilizing responsive web design, the process of separating content from design on a SharePoint site. This way, websites will automatically adapt to the device accessing it.

Step 3: Locate your users

Location could and should dictate what your user sees. Proprietary and sensitive information should not be accessed in public spaces where something may fall into the wrong hands.

In addition, many enterprise organizations often struggle to comply with data sovereignty laws and regulations dealing with privacy. As cloud computing and mobile device usage continues to expand, many countries have amended their own laws to prevent other countries from subpoenaing that data.

Geolocation services can help organizations resolve these issues by allowing location to dictate where information can be accessed. These services are native to most modern browsers, as well as smartphones and tablets.

By utilizing these services, organizations can add an additional layer of access control over sensitive content. When geolocation services are combined with two-factor authentication and a strong BYOD or COPE (Corporate Owned, Personally Enabled) policy in place, organizations can feel assured that content can only be accessed by trusted users, on trusted devices, and in trusted locations.

Step 4: Identify how and when your users work

In today’s workshifting environment, employees can increase their productivity by using mobile and social technologies that provide access to information when they are away from their desks. For example, mobile and social technologies can access email, instant messaging, personal locations, calendar, voice, video, and newsfeeds at any time and place.

As convenient as it is for employees to access company data on a mobile device, it is equally as difficult for enterprise IT administrators to ensure security over sensitive content. Below are two of the models available in the mobile marketplace to address these concerns:

  • Mobile device management (MDM): MDM solutions typically secure, monitor, and manage the entire device; allowing administrators to control all data entering and leaving it. Although this model presents the greatest level of security, it also often creates dissension between the enterprise and their employees. Employees often do not want to give up the level of control over their personal device, and will seek out other ways to access and share the content that they desire—defeating the solution’s purpose altogether.
  • “Containerization”: Unlike traditional MDM solutions, containerized solutions create a partition between business and personal data. These solutions can help alleviate employee concerns over "Big Brother" while also providing the enterprise with security and control over their content. Regardless of what model your organization chooses, security and compliance need to be a part of your mobile SharePoint strategy as it is often a roadblock to ensuring sustainable user adoption after deployment.

Empowering your mobile workforce is a new gateway for enterprise success. With proper planning, execution, training and maintenance, it can also be a main driver for productivity, collaboration, and understanding between members working in a multi-generational environment.

When looking to create an effective and secure way to distribute SharePoint content among employees, customers, consultants, and other key audiences, solution options such as two-factor authentication, geolocation gaps, collaboration, and editing abilities should always be taken into consideration.

Envision every way your organization can utilize a mobile sharing solution when making purchasing decisions. This will help determine what features are most important to your day-to-day operations. 

Mobile is taking the enterprise world by storm—don’t let your organization and workforce be left in the dust.


Daniel Wilkens  - Daniel Wilkens is a Software Product Analyst at AvePoint, responsible for the company’s archiving and mobility products. Daniel has experience in project management in the legal services industry and graduated with a juris doctorate from Touro Law Center

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