There's an old saying that that there's nothing going on in your office that your customers or shareholder care about. What they really want to know is what are you doing out and about in the world to advance their interests. That stuff you do in the office is just the paperwork they need to keep score.
Alas, in addition to wanting to see more people out of the office, there also are fewer employees these days. That means we have to find ways for fewer employees in the field to do more work, hence the push for collaboration software vendors to add support for mobile devices.
The latest is Huddle, a collaboration software service that just announced support for the BlackBerry. The Huddle service already supports a variety of smartphones and comes on the heels of a recent announcement from Cisco that adds support for iPhones and iPads to the Cisco Quad collaboration platform.
According to Andy McLoughlin, vice president of business development for Huddle, we're already starting to a wave of consolidation of features within collaboration services, where access to applications is coupled with file synchronization, project management and even idea management modules.
Yet despite that consolidation, there are probably more than 50 types of collaboration services, ranging from Huddle and Box.net to Google and Microsoft. Soon just about every collaboration application out there will support just about every mobile device out there. The question is to what degree will IT organizations embrace all the mobile computing diversity, not only inside the enterprise, but also through collaboration applications that users can access without going through IT?
As more people gain access to smartphones, there's really is no effective means for IT to put a lid on what many people call "the consumerization of IT."
That means IT organizations will have to bring some control to the collaboration chaos by at least sanctioning some services over others. Right now, far too many organizations have end users subscribing to multiple, redundant services. At the very least, IT should be negotiating better deals for a single preferred service.
The real issue, of course, is that a lot of IT managers are turning a blind eye to this trend, though they know highly sensitive information frequently is shared on these services. But IT managers won't be allowed to bury their heads in the sand forever, any more that users will indefinitely be able to use any service they choose.
So it's probably better to have a difficult conversation today than it is to wait for the inevitable crisis that both sides can see coming.