The typical reaction I get when talking about an alternative mobile email app is either; what’s wrong with the Apple (or Android) email app? Or our IT makes us use this “secure” thing I hate. For those that think the native email is “good enough,” it seems Apple has changed our expectation of what you should be able to do from a mobile device.
What’s Wrong for Users
On a laptop, we take for granted simple tasks like attaching a document to an email or setting up a meeting and see when colleagues are free or busy. Yet, on an iPhone you can’t do these functions that could make you more productive while mobile. A challenge many business users face is joining web meetings like GoToMeeting or a Webex when on the move. This often translates to sticky notes, distracted driving, and missed or late meeting starts impacting an entire team’s productivity.
Another issue is the frustration of getting an email with a link to an internal site that fails to open because it’s behind the company firewall. I also talk to parents who often give their young kids their iPad to play a game, but worry what happens if they accidentally do a reply-all with a crazy message. There are plenty of international and 911 calls attributed to kids’ ability to click the keys you don’t want them to. With native email, it’s all or nothing. You can protect the entire device with a PIN, but then you can’t give it to your kid to play with, not a great option.
What’s Wrong for Business
Mobile email for business has been a problem ever since Blackberry users started moving to iPhones. Native email works with ActiveSync allowing access to many corporate email systems; however, this also opens the door to all kinds of corporate risks like opening an attachment into personal Dropbox account, or easy copy-paste between corporate and personal apps. As a result, some IT organizations have implemented “secure” versions of email apps that provide protection and isolates company and personal email. The problem has been the user experience on the first generation of these alternative apps left a lot to be desired, i.e. users hate it.
Secure Email that Doesn’t Suck
The challenge for IT has been accommodating the execs and BYOD users with a system that protects the company IP, but does not aggravate and confuse the employees. Apple has made improvements in iOS 7 to allow MDM control of certain things like Open-in; however, other security risks remain. Plus, it is unlikely that Apple will ever provide native integration with business tools like web meetings and secure document storage. The innovation opportunity for IT vendors is to come up with email and other business apps that delight the users instead of making them angry.
Our new WorxMail bridges the gap between IT requirements and user features that business users will want. A small feature like one click-access to a meeting can be priceless when mobile. In the future, I expect the mobile workforce will demand and appreciate business apps that make them more effective and give them the flexibility to work from anywhere, “Good Enough” won’t be good enough for users or IT.
Also appeared in Wired.com