Social Business Applications’ Next Frontier – Offline Access

Social business applications seem to be crossing the chasm, and platforms such as IBM Connections are being enhanced with more and more applications, such as ProjExec. The realization that all business processes are social to some degree has become widely accepted, and the value that platforms like Connections provide by leveraging the power of the corporate social network to get things done is becoming understood by more executives.

Social business applications and platforms like IBM Connections have, to date, been generally restricted to browser-based access (or browser-based mobile apps). This has been reasonable, as most social applications are rich, complex systems that are typically not designed for, nor do they lend themselves to the “siloed” mobile “app” paradigm.

As such, social business applications (and most business applications in general) are limited to being connected when users are online. This is a major limitation. There are millions of hours of lost potential productivity when users are forced to be offline. What is needed is the ability to work “offline”, e.g.,  in airplane mode, and be able to work with the same productivity as when online. Why should users be required to wait until they arrive at a destination, or pay exorbitant airline charges for slow internet connectivity, in order to do their work? No one would stand for that for writing and responding to email, so why do we accept this as the standard for mobile business applications?

Just like offline email, it will be required to pull data down from enterprise systems in order to work offline. However, it would be impossible to bring all of the data from most enterprise systems down to the local device. What is required is a kind of “selective replication”, a technology pioneered more than 20 years ago by (egad!) Lotus Notes. Why this kind of technology hasn’t been developed for the mobile platform is a mystery. The same limitations of the early internet age (slow/unreliable connection speed, limited storage, etc.) that Lotus Notes responded to with their selective replication functionality are in play in the mobile arena.

It’s time for history to repeat itself. And we’re ready to do that.

Come see us at ConnectED 2015 to see the future of mobile application development.

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