The nature of work has been changed by the mobile phone. This is an undisputable fact. It's also a fact that organizations and enterprises have not always coped well with this revolution.
The early stages of mobility in the workplace were fairly simple: A couple top executives had private cellphones with numbers that only the most important people could reach. The wall between the C-suite and the rest of enterprises began to erode with the rise of the BlackBerry, as mobile email became pervasive through the entire corporate structure. But we're still waiting for the next step.
What is that next step? Look no further than what technologists refer to as SoMoClo (social, mobile, cloud, or the dreadful "mocial"). While enterprises may have been the first to push and adopt the cloud, consumers have done likewise with the rise of social computing. And everybody is mobile.
The infographic below shows "three generations" of mobile phones in the workplace and ponders what could come next.
The first generation is fairly simple. BlackBerries in the workplace dominated from about 1999 (from the CEO's office) until 2007 (when the original iPhone was released).
In 2012, BlackBerries are no longer the de facto phone you find in office settings, and not many people still carry two cellphones in their bags, one for work, one for personal use. The norm now is one phone - and it can do just about everything.
That includes getting in touch with everybody you might know at any time. On a cellphone these days, work contacts mingle with private contacts. You might have Mork (your favorite sales rep) listed on your contacts list next to Mindy (your stepmother). Twitter lets people broadcast thoughts and connect with people everywhere. Facebook, often the bane of the enterprise, is one of the biggest ways to connect with friends, family and co-workers (and share embarrassing photos of them).
The consumer world of social mobility has bled into the enterprise world of social mobility, and many companies do not like that. Sometimes messages are innocent like, "Bill, you will be at the meeting tomorrow at 9 a.m., right?" Other times they can be damaging to the company; "Bill here is the confidential slideshow for the meeting at 9 a.m."
The sender may not have meant to share private company data for the world to see, but we all know instances where that happens. The infographic indicates that 1% of workers have posted some type of confidential business material. That may not seem like a lot, but imagine if a prescription medication gave 1% of everyone who took it a stroke. The Food and Drug Administration would pull it off the shelves in a heartbeat, and the lawyers would have a field day.
The infographic - from Salesforce Rypple - predicts a third generation to follow today's consumer-centric mobile workplace, and is a good way to start a dialogue about how social mobility will progress in the enterprise.
But it concentrates on services like Rypple, Chatter and Jive, (the former two owned by Salesforce with Jive one of the company's partner services) which makes it a bit self-serving. There are plenty of other enterprise social clients - including Yammer (which just acquired oneDrum to compete with Jive), Jabber and a host of unified communications clients from Cisco, Telligent, SocialText, NewsGator as well as entrants from Microsoft, SAP and IBM. These are the shapes that SoMoClo has taken in the enterprise.
The question: are these enterprise clients really the future of mobile social in the workplace? Or are today's consumer services now too popular and too pervasive to be supplanted? As we have seen with the Bring Your Own Device revolution, workers do not like having tools they do not like shoved down their throats. To succeed, enterprise clients will have to be as powerful and comfortable as the best consumer services.
Check out the infographic and let us know what you think about the future of enterprise social communication in the comments.
Lead image courtesy of Shutterstock.