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March 5, 2010

But, I’m not AT my computer!!!!!!

Have you ever been in this situation? You get text message on your mobile phone with an urgent plea for you to join a time critical, mission centric collaboration session – NOW! Perhaps you are off site at a conference, maybe lunch or, it could even be your legitimate day off and you are on the golf course. Regardless of your location, there is one thing that is a fact – You are no where near any computer, much less YOUR computer.

So now what? Well, since you happen to have some critical domain knowledge to ensure the right decisions are made, you can’t simply opt out so you are left with a couple less than optimal scenarios.

Option 1 – Force the meeting to wait until you get so a place where there is a computer with all the appropriate ‘stuff’ installed. Depending on the nature of your mission, MAYBE this is an option, but, what if there are lives on the line? OK, scratch THIS idea.

Option 2 – Participate on the phone without access to the visuals. I’m willing to bet most of you have used this option on occasion, I know I certainly have. However, again, dependent on your mission, this can be quite a challenge. First, the entire meeting gets bogged down as someone attempts to explain what is being depicted on the screen – Painful. Second, there are just some things that simply must be seen to properly interpret and offer an opinion or make a decision. I could go on, but, I think I’ve made my point!

Funny that in 2010, when almost all of us have little computers in our pockets disguised as phones and, even though we all complain about it, relatively decent network coverage in most places, we are forced to resort to old school ways to collaborate with people who are not in direct contact with a ‘real’ computer and a high speed internet connection. If you give it just a little bit of thought though, it’s really not all that surprising.

Consider the technologies available that enable collaboration, most of these tools are, for various reasons, tethered to particular platforms, specific operating systems, particular hardware, or designated browsers. Challenges such as form factor, bandwidth availability and processing speed all enter into the picture to complicate matters even more.

Does this seem like an unsolvable puzzle? Five years ago, in fact, maybe even only a year ago, this basically was unsolvable from a scalable, general use perspective. However, with a little bit of innovation, leveraging technology that is already in place and pervasive across practically every platform under the sun and the problem can be addressed.

For collaboration enabling technologies to be truly successful and adopted in a general sense, they must become available to people to use whenever and wherever they are! Over the years, a very large and diverse group of government customers have agreed with this concept and have been enjoying great success in deploying new systems. Just to name a few, DISA, the State Department, the US Army, and HHS have all adopted a cross platform, easy to use approach to collaboration tools that has changed the way their people work, inside the agency and out.

Today, without the need to retrain its user community, these agencies have the ability to bring mobile users into the fold. To experience what I’m talking about, try out the new iPhone app for Adobe Connect Pro. Just go to the Apple App Store and search for Adobe Connect, download the app and try it out!

So, the next time you find yourself on the golf course, uh, I mean, ‘off site’, and that critical meeting pops up, you will be armed with the ability to truly participate in the proceedings and make a difference with your expertise.