Enhanced Legacy Enterprise Collaboration in a Mobile-Dominated World

Puzzle Ball; Source: pixabay.comBack in 2000-2001, my first real efforts in thinking about enterprise mobility concerned a notion I had, and attempted to champion based on utilizing BlackBerry devices (yes, the next generation of the first BlackBerry devices) as a means for driving enterprise-level mobile-based collaboration. I admit it was a foolhardy notion back then – and in truth even a decade later it was still a foolhardy notion, even as the iPhone and iPad were beginning to change the world’s perceptions of enterprise mobility, and beginning to push mobile possibilities beyond mobile email and very basic, simple mobile apps.

Today of course we have WebEx, GoTo Meeting, Skype, and other collaboration suites we can turn to, and in some cases there is a basic mobile capability associated with each of them. But, quite honestly, aside from the ease of sharing PowerPoint slides for webinars and teleconferences, collaboration has continued to strike me as still a “medieval mobile times” capability. What do I mean?

Can you instantly and asynchronously collaborate online or wirelessly – no matter your location or device (e.g. laptop, tablet or smartphone) on a scheduled or ad hoc basis directly through your core ERP, CRM or other mission-critical software products? How about direct visual collaborative interactions and whiteboarding on say, a new Salesforce template design? Let’s not stop there, though – what if your business were able to deliver easy collaboration capabilities not only for well-established third-party software such as Salesforce, but for its own in-house built, legacy/mission-critical applications?

Aren’t your mobile-enabled workforces and progressive-minded LOBs already asking (or maybe clamoring) for such services? If your business was able to easily embed such collaboration capabilities into both legacy systems and whatever modern mobile apps are being built today, wouldn’t you consider it both a major tactical, productivity-enhancing capability as well as a major strategic and competitive opportunity? This was my exact pitch back in 2000-2001 at a time when the whole thing seemed to enterprises to be an insane (or inane – as one company put it) idea. But today’s entirely mobile-driven business world has – 15-16 years down the road – finally caught up with me!

I am excited about this – however, my real excitement is not driven by the fact that enterprises are finally waking up to the possibilities of enterprise collaboration, but is rather driven by the fact that thanks to technology that is now available, it is actually easily possible to create such mobile-first collaboration services across new mobile apps and legacy systems.

Further, from an enterprise mobile perspective, this is a strategy that many enterprises are now talking about but that very, very few have seriously begun to consider actually implementing. There is today a large window of opportunity for forward-thinking businesses to take the lead on it and to give themselves a true competitive advantage.

Enterprise Collaboration Easily Possible? Really?

In truth, until recently, it has been impossible for third-party ISVs (e.g. Salesforce) and internal enterprise development teams to add robust, asynchronous, and mobile-enabled collaboration capabilities to existing legacy and mission critical applications. It would have been onerously difficult, complex, and far too costly to pull off, let alone maintain on an ongoing basis – these downsides entirely trumped any potential advantages. There was no practical way for any enterprise or ISV to build and deliver such services in-house, and in fact this remains exactly the case today.

The engineering expertise necessary to deliver collaboration services in-house would prove elusive and nearly impossible to come by, and would consequently prove to be impossibly expensive to assemble. Further, delivering the necessary security engineering expertise today’s cybersecurity-sensitive enterprises require – especially from a mobile perspective – to the required engineering mix creates an exponentially greater layer of technical complexity and cost.

What’s changed?

Moxtra’s Collaboration Platform

Over the last several years, I’ve watched a dedicated team of collaboration experts assemble a now 70-person-strong startup (perhaps post-startup is a more appropriate designation these days) called Moxtra. Co-founded by Moxtra CEO Subrah Iyar, one of the original co-founders of WebEx and other enterprise collaboration experts, Moxtra has developed and is delivering a new and embeddable conferencing and collaboration SDK/toolkit and platform that will allow enterprise developers and third-party ISVs to easily add a full and robust suite of sophisticated and integrated collaboration tools that are able to operate both on-prem or through private cloud implementations to both existing enterprise legacy apps and new mobile business apps.

A hefty patent portfolio serves as the foundation for Moxtra to deliver on the following suite of services:

Real-time synchronous features
- HD audio and video
- Full real-time screen sharing and whiteboarding
- Remote desktop capability

Full mobile operating system support (iOS, Android, Windows 10, Web-based browser access)

Asynchronous services
- Annotation support
- Task management
- Power messaging

Integrations
- Data stores
- Third-party app integration

The synchronous real-time services essentially deliver the same core collaboration and online meeting capabilities WebEx, GoTo Meeting and other platforms deliver on. If a company opts to use the Moxtra platform, it can simply stop using the other platforms. And – of course! – all of today’s key mobile operating systems and Web browsers are supported. But this isn’t why one would utilize Moxtra …

The real Moxtra breakthrough is delivered through its unique asynchronous services. Today’s workforces operate in truly mobile anytime, anywhere environments, where the usual benefits of real-time conferencing fall far short of mobile workforce needs. Productive business meetings more often than not simply happen on an ad hoc and often unplanned basis.  Not everyone can quickly gather at the same time, but the Moxtra platform’s asynchronous services allow everyone to participate as and when they can.

But take this several steps further – let’s consider calling an ad hoc meeting and directly using a company’s Salesforce or ERP app or an internally built mission critical app and utilizing the resources of those platforms as a direct part of a given collaboration. This is a powerful capability that for the most part does not exist today!

Even a moderately-sized organization will typically find it difficult or impossible to assemble every member of a workgroup that may be required for a given collaborative session. In larger businesses, unscheduled, ad hoc workforce collaboration happens every minute of every day – or rather, more often than not, such desired meetings are postponed, usually rescheduled, or in worst case scenarios constantly pushed out. At executive levels it sometimes becomes almost impossible to have timely collaborations.

Often, both strategic and tactical issues end up falling between the cracks – a key issue in measuring productivity. I’m absolutely skimming the surface here but I’m certainly sure you know exactly where I’m going with this. Moxtra’s goal is to deliver an online platform that fully merges the ability to work collaboratively in real time while also delivering powerful offline and asynchronous collaboration capabilities. My goal here is to simply help you to imagine the enterprise possibilities.

So imagine…

What are the benefits of assembling collaborative meetings directly theough legacy and mission-critical apps?

What are the benefits in the ability to deliver async-based annotation services to documents or other assets being worked on or the ability to clip and use multimedia assets?

What are the benefits to providing async-driven workforce task management?

What are the benefits to what Moxtra has dubbed its Power Messaging capabilities? These services are particularly useful in that they let users integrate conversations from multiple external platforms directly within any collaboration conversations taking place, whether in real time or asynchronously.

What are the benefits to being able to utilize these services directly from mobile devices?

Even though Moxtra’s mobile-first approach to collaboration suggests that mobile people are more able to connect and collaborate on an ad hoc basis, the ability to operate asynchronously means that all required participants can be brought into any collaboration at any time 100 percent of the time on a timely basis. Take a deep breath and reread that…it means that meetings no longer need to be constantly pushed back, rescheduled or postponed and they will no longer fall through the cracks.

There is one final thing well worth noting – Moxtra has developed “integrations” on two important fronts. Developers and ISVs can easily integrate their collaborative applications with today’s most used data stores – you know, DropBox, Box, OneDrive, Google Drive, Evernote, iCloud Drive and WebDAV. The Moxtra platform makes them all easily accessible and sharable – though of course only to authorized users.

Finally, as I’ve noted throughout, the Moxtra SDK makes it simple to integrate the platform with major third-party and ISV enterprise apps. The company already supports over 35 integrations and claims to have a list of ISVs and enterprise customers that will grow support significantly over time.

So then, my dream of mobile-driven enterprise collaboration has been fulfilled 16 years after I first thought of it. It is no longer insane or inane!

Moxtra has rendered the technical challenges of integrated enterprise collaboration moot. The only challenge left is for businesses of all sizes, stripes and colors to fully grasp the potentially enormous business benefits and competitive advantages to be gained from it.

About Tony Rizzo

Tony Rizzo joined Blue Hill Research following a 20 month stint heading up TMC's enterprise mobility and wearable technology coverage. Prior to TMC Tony spent several years within the mobile vendor community. Before his journey into the vendor community Tony spent five years as the Director of Mobile Research for research analyst firm The 451 Group, covering all aspects of enterprise mobility. There he lived through both the early and later stages of both consumer and enterprise mobility and the first stages of the BYOD enterprise mobility consumerization phenomenon following the release of the original iPhone. Tony has served as the Editor in Chief of Mobile Enterprise, Internet World, as the Editorial Director of an Ernst & Young Financial Services Web Advisory project, as the Editor in Chief of NetGuide (the first Internet magazine), as a founding editor and Editor of Network Computing Magazine, and as the founding Technical Editor of Microsoft Systems Journal. Prior to moving into tech journalism, research and analysis, Tony served as the Assistant Director for Information Technology at New York University's School of Continuing and Business Education, delivering extensive computer technology training programs.
Posted on March 3, 2016 by Tony Rizzo

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