For those of you who missed the announcement last week, Cloud content store Box announced OneCloud, a suite of 30 productivity applications that will allow users to securely access, edit, and share content from their mobile devices. There are four premier Box OneCloud integration partners which include Quickoffice, Adobe EchoSign, Nuance PaperPort Notes, and PDF Expert. These premier partners will support the new round-trip workflow functionality which allows content updates to be instantly stored and secured on the Box platform. Box also announced integration with Enterproid, a mobility management solution that can leverage Box to extend its dual personal container in order to secure content. These announcements are in addition to Box’s existing capabilities to integrate with other apps, management, and security platforms such as MobileIron, AirWatch, Good Technology, Okta, VMWare, OneLogin, Citrix, etc.
Why should this be of interest to you outside of the immediate functionality it provides? What does this promote for enterprise mobility? To see this more clearly, let’s take a step back and enumerate all the advantages mobility brings to end-users.
- The ability to chose the exact functionality you need (aka – there’s an app for that)
- The ability to work anytime, anywhere
- Constant Internet connection – sans wires
- Multiple forms of communication on a single device – voice, text, email, web, etc.
- Video conferencing
- Portability – all the power of your PC but the ability to fit in your pocket
- Location aware
- Ability to instantly digitize the physical world via camera
- Media player
It is really amazing what you can accomplish with a single device. However, this functionality needs to extend beyond your immediate device.
Mobile functionality cannot be a silo – connected and useful unto itself. This is true for devices, apps, services, and data. This seems obvious and simple to say, but there are lots of apps available that perform a single task or function, but don’t fit into a larger context. While the functionality a single app or service provides might be of interest to the immediate user, it has limited value in the enterprise. Data and capabilities must be frictionless and inter-connected to achieve maximum value. Being able to manipulate data in an application is great, but if it takes jumping through a lot of hoops to get the relevant pieces on to the next process or person, then its value is diminished. The advantages of mobility can work against it just as easily as for it. All these little pieces that are lying around are great in amongst themselves, but you need to be able to draw them together into a cohesive whole. This need is even more pronounced when it comes to enterprise mobility.
So why are announcements, like the ones from Box, so important? They represent the seeds of a mobile enterprise ecosystem. More importantly they encourage ecosystem thinking, both in partners and competitors; partners want in, competitors don’t want to be left behind. It also creates the opportunity for good functionally of apps to become great, by being able to extend security and management capabilities. In order to fulfill the dreams the advantages of enterprise mobility suggest, it will take many apps, services, and management suites working in concert.
In this highly fractured environment of apps and services, no one single player is going to dominate functionality and capabilities. To reach a state of mature enterprise mobility, it is going to take a concerted effort of collaboration and integration between those who develop apps and services. For developers and services providers, it will mean looking at your app or service with an eye toward the end-user and the enterprise, and not solely at one’s own functional capabilities. Box seems to be one of those companies that gets this. They continue to evolve and improve not only their own services, but they push to develop integration capabilities and partnerships. This is great news for the enterprise as it creates the opportunity for an ecosystem to emerge. These types of ecosystems retain the flexibility and choice while at the same time, have a place in a larger framework of services and management capabilities.
If it takes a village to raise a child, then in terms of mobility, productivity apps are the villagers and Box is trying to be the town center. This is exactly the type village that needs to be created in order for enterprise mobility to flourish.