When will mobile priorities come first?

When will organisations start designing and creating applications, web pages and social media tools with mobile devices as the first priority before PC users?

More and more people are using smartphones for their work.  While travelling or working remotely from their normal place of work they need to use their intranet.

But we still design for PC users as the first priority.  This can mean it is more difficult than it need be when using a smartphone on your intranet wasting unnecessary time or having to involve others taking them away from their work.

When will the tipping point come and first priority be to check that anyone with a smartphone can have a great experience using a new intranet tool?

When the Intranet Benchmarking Forum last benchmarked BT’s intranet they said “BT’s intranet is designed to support mobile workers so it is fully accessible from mobile devices.  Mobile users use a text-based interface.”

People in BT can use their Blackberrys to:

With the rollout of SharePoint 2010 it is critical that people can use their Blackberrys to do this.  As you can see from comparing these screenshots showing SP2010 sites using a PC and Blackberry that is possible.

How long before the experience is as good or even better when you use a smartphone compared to a PC though?

7 responses to “When will mobile priorities come first?

  1. @lukew gives some very good reasons why Mobile should come first now. http://www.lukew.com/ff/entry.asp?933
    I would agree that it ‘should’ come first. But to answer your question of when… not sure, but I can see it starting to happen in my org. I heard our HR director hardly uses a PC anymore now he has a BB and an iPad.

  2. Luke,

    Thanks for your comment. When is THE question really. Martin White, Intranet Focus, has some very good views on increasing mobile usage http://www.intranetfocus.com/archives/351.


  3. In the fall, I took an extended family vacation and started to heavily rely on my IPhone for communication back to my office, and keeping up to date on our social media channels pertaining to our intranet community and customers. But I did find it a challenge to type and switched to my laptop in order to send longer, more involved emails.

    I think this is true also of the intranet, and while there are certain areas that beg to be mobile (thanks Mark for the examples!) we still need to support both PC and mobile formats on the intranet. We are currently developing with JQuery Mobile, which provides rapid development in a slick “apple/IPhone” like experience but the PC browser interface on our intranet is still optimized for that format.

    The post from @lukew has some great points, thanks for sharing!

    Appreciate the opportunity to comment on your post Mark.


    • Carolyn,

      Thank you for taking in the opportunity to. 🙂

      I think this has tapped a real issue we will be facing.

      Questions that come to my mind are:

      What do intranet professionals do to minimise time, effort and costs by creating an experience that works well for people who use PCs and mobiles?

      Should there be new guidelines or more awareness of existing guidelines?

      What in best practice examples do work that we can follow?

      Anyone else want to add some comments?


  4. This is such a hot button topic so hopefully more best practices and examples will be shared as companies start putting policies and mobile access into place. We have had topic discussions with our customers surrounding mobile. Many mention security and privacy as being a barrier for the organization going mobile.

  5. Mark – great post and screenshots, thank you for sharing.

    I’ve been having a healthy debate on mobile in my company. Here are a few headlines:

    1. Mobile will not come first for enterprises until mobiles (maybe tablets) are the primary business computer. For some individuals, this is already the case but for most, it is not. Looking around my large office right now I see people sat at desks with laptops, not lounging with mobiles. Currently, it makes sense to prioritise PCs and until mobile computing powers up, it will remain the case.

    2. Your mobile UI is poor in comparison to the main site. Until mobile intranets are properly mobile optimised and are genuinely preferable to use, employees will default to PCs. This is not a criticism of the BT mobile site btw, it’s true of nearly all sites I’ve seen.

    3. We need to rethink the intranet 🙂 Bold statement huh? The mobile experience is all about apps; the enterprise intranet experience is all about the webpage. A critical tipping point will be upon us in the next few years when more people access internet services via mobile than through PCs and when that happens, I expect us to see some more app style webpages reflecting this new driver.

    4. Before then, another bold question: what does a mobile intranet need to look like and do? Is it a text copy of the original? Is it a touch-optimised version of the same? Is it ‘Intranet Lite’ (comms, collab maybe) or full intranet (… with tricky ERM HR transactions)? Most employees, I suspect, will be very happy to see intranet lite text so that they can actually read the intranet links people supply via email on their BB.

    Welcome your thoughts (I’ll blog this in due course)

    • Jon,

      Thanks for your comments. They are thought provoking as you intended.

      I believe a mobile intranet will be a stripped down version of what we see now. It will focus on the key functionality that is critical for people to have and remove all the rest.

      It means ‘less is more’ with unneccesary buttons, headings, designs, etc, removed leaving mobile users with what they need.

      What the BBC site offers for smartphone users with information is a good example.

      For apps it will force major intranet application vendors to start from scratch with new code purposed for mobile use and not try to keep updating existing code for the next version of their app which is less usable than the previous one……….sometimes.

      I’ll watch your blog for your posts on this.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s