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Last week’s post on a mobile first employee strategy (See: Build small business employee engagement with a mobile first strategy) highlighted the importance of mobile collaboration, the ability to enable mobile and remote employees to work together on projects through the use of mobile devices and apps. As noted, a recent global study conducted by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) for Aruba found in order to foster collaboration, 42% of companies are using digital collaboration tools that work on mobile.

When it comes to deploying mobile collaboration capabilities, Jeff Mann, Gartner research director focusing on collaboration and social software, writes in Computer Weekly that there are three “impacts” related to mobility that companies should assess. They include:

Mobile access to collaborative tools:  The first step to mobile collaboration, according to Mann, is to provide access to existing desktop tools, such as company email, instant messaging (IM) and web conferencing tools, which many companies already do. (If you are providing video and web conferencing mobile capabilities, employees will benefit from a noise-cancelling headset to ensure audio clarity wherever they are.) From a productivity standpoint, by having access to desktop tools, employees can use their mobile devices anywhere/anytime for increased work flexibility and preferences and still stay connected with others while they are on the move.

Innovative collaboration: Beyond providing small business employees with what is already available on their desktops, Mann points out mobile devices enable new ways to work, not previously possible. An example is the use of tablets to draw and sketch ideas to quickly share with others. The key is to ensure that mobile devices can access the type of content they are best suited for and to properly use the functionality they offer in collaboration applications.

New Ways to Collaborate: Mobility also offers new ways to collaborate. By combining cloud computing with mobility and social collaboration, for example, small businesseses can transform business models. Employees working in the field or on a factory or retail floor now can access information and their colleagues in real time through mobile collaboration to enhance their job performance, a capability previously not possible.

Mobile UCaaS

Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) provides a cloud-based platform to deliver a range of communications tools, including voice, email, conferencing, IM/presence, file sharing, fax and more, to facilitate collaboration across desktops as well as smartphones, tablets and laptops. UCaaS eliminates the problems that arise when trying to integrate communication and collaboration solutions from several vendors, which do not always work together because they may have different user interfaces or operating systems

Plantronics Device-as-a-Service Pro makes it easy to acquire Plantronics products along with a complete UCaaS solution. The program bundles UCaaS offerings and Plantronics UC audio devices from the Voyager®, Savi® and Blackwire® families or the CS540 into flexible 12- 24-or 36-month payment options. With Plantronics Device-as-a-Service Pro, you can easily scale usage up or down to align with changes in business. You also can match the right audio device with team members’ work styles to enhance the UCaaS experience. For information about Plantronics Device-as-a-Service Pro, visit: http://www.plantronics.com/us/daas-pro/.

Whatever collaboration tools or platforms you use for mobility, make sure to provide your small business employees with training so that they maximize functionality and efficiency. Provide step-by-step guides as well as training over web or video conferencing for remote workers.