Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Enjoy the Party with Magnolia CMS, Skip the BYOD Hangover

Do you have a smartphone or tablet? Do you use it to buy movie tickets or groceries, catch up with news and read your email? Have you ever used it to jot down quick meeting notes, update your Facebook stream or upload a photo to your Web site?

Chances are, you answered yes to at least one of those questions. And if you did, you're not alone. A 2011 study by InfoTrends found that "mobile knowledge workers currently account for more than 60% of the total workforce in Brazil, Germany, India and Japan and more than 70% of the total workforce in the United States. Forecast projections show these regions are expected to show continued growth and penetration through the 2014 period."

Who Are These Mobile Users, Anyway?

It might tempting to discount this as a passing trend, but look around you - in the bus, the train, the workplace, the restaurant - and you'll realize the pervasiveness of mobile. And if you look a little closer, you'll realize that these "mobile workers" can actually be classified into two broad segments:
  • “Mobile Consumers” are those who use mobile access for non-work purposes. Examples include making mobile payments for groceries, getting driving directions and maps, reading the tablet version of the New Yorker while commuting, and so on. These users like mobile-friendly Websites that have intuitive design and workflows and are designed for small(er) screens.
  • “Mobile Professionals” are those who treat their mobile device as an extension of their workplace, using it to receive and send business-related information. Examples include journalists recording interviews on their mobile phones, doctors reviewing patient data and taking notes, and police officers registering parking violations. For these users, it's important that interaction is intuitive and simple so that errors can be avoided. Also, access needs to be scalable, secure and tightly integrated with back-office systems.
How does this trend relate to content management? Well, most Mobile Professionals are using their mobile devices to create or interact with content. Think of patient records being updated at bed side, insurance brokers jotting down client details, or journalists writing a short article right where the action takes place. These are activities that should integrate seamlessly with value-generating business processes to provide the biggest benefit and fastest time to market at the lowest cost.

Granted, there are many providers today that try to solve these issues through app-building frameworks. However, at Magnolia, we believe the problem is not building apps, but providing the content management infrastructure to manage content creation, access and publishing processes.

The BYOD Challenge

CIOs face distinct challenges from the growing trend of mobile usage, both amongst company customers and Mobile Professionals. Most CIOs are already aware of the need to make the enterprise's customer-facing Website mobile-friendly, to ensure that both prospective and actual customers can access the information they need without hindrance. Magnolia has provided support for mobile sites, in addition to existing sites and channels, from a single source of content for a while.

However, faced with the new trend of BYOD, CIOs now also need to ensure that internal resources, such as the company intranet, are accessible and usable through employee-owned mobile devices and that interaction with their back-end systems can be provided on the go.

One option to do so is to build native apps. While this is certainly a valid approach, it introduces a host of issues, such as the cost of supporting multiple platforms, ensuring that the right groups of people have access to the right apps (this is called “provisioning”), and providing a seamless interaction experience across multiple apps and devices to lower the learning curve and reduce data entry errors.

With Magnolia 5, we’ve spent a great deal of time thinking about these problems, and we think we’ve cracked them. More in my next post.

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