Note: This product review is a paid service by Joel Oleson. I hope you enjoy it.
The mobile world of SharePoint has its challenges. First, the default interfaces designed for mobile are lacking. Then, users bring their own devices and expect to have a decent experience. The sad truth is that most will be dissatisfied with the dumbed-down, text-based interface that really provides an extremely limited experience. A variety of apps try to give you file sync or an offline experience, but the KWizCom no-code solution provides a working experience for your sites, forms and applications. KWizCom's Mobile Bundle is designed around enabling non-technical end-users to create custom mobile collaboration solutions, which fit the specific needs of users on the road. The KWizCom mobile experience is one you have to see, and with a little configuration, you can have the app working for your mobile workforce.
Figure 1: KWizCom SharePoint Mobile Extensions Supports Leading Smartphones and Tablets
As you can see above, Windows Phone, iPad, Blackberry, and iPhone can all have rich experiences designed around how your people work. Configuration is simple since it's done within the familiar environment of SharePoint.
Understanding Challenges Today
Users aren't happy with the default mobile interface—The poor limited mobile interface does not provide a user-friendly experience for working. Lists are limited, the interface is not intuitive and there are really no good application experiences. Also, it's not customizable. Some lists provide basic functionality and many views simply do not work. In most cases, administrators have disabled the mobile interface so that today's rich mobile devices can give them a little bit more—scrolling left, right, up and down to then experience frustration trying to click on text.
Another main challenge is that a mobile user's SharePoint needs differ from his needs at the office. In the office, end users can benefit from the classic Portal interface, which provides maximum information relying on fast LAN bandwidth, large monitors and a comfortable work environment (keyboards, sitting by a desk etc.), but mobile users have completely different requirements. For a mobile user, just rendering the same portal interface or just providing an interface to update lists (like some other vendors do) does not provide an answer to the challenging conditions of a mobile user:
- Limited screen size
- Limited keyboard
- Limited time
- Limited internet bandwidth (and data plan)
Therefore, the productive mobile user needs the opposite of a portal interface. He needs a smart, focused interface, one that enables him to complete the specific tasks while he's on the road.
Mobile users need specific data and customized actions that will enable the user to perform the needed collaboration/data input tasks faster and in fewer clicks than the portal web interface.
Device explosion going on in the enterprise—Mobile devices and tablets are showing up faster than laptops. Trying to build your own interfaces is challenging because of the wide variety of screen resolutions and sizes and the variety of operating systems. Going the app route requires different applications for each device that can be very difficult to manage. The KWizCom strategy focuses on simply extending the applications you've already built.
Forms often need to be completed for ordering or working with business data and various inputs. On the floor in the warehouse or for the salesman on the go, the information, the form, and the actions are presented as simple and focused solutions.
Figure 2: KWizCom Mobile Extensions Offers a Focused and Action-Oriented Interface That's Easily Customizable
My Experience with KWizCom Mobile Extensions
In my experience, I've personally seen the explosion of devices. I've seen the executives adopt tablets as their preferred devices, and I've seen the sales folks taking only their mobile devices when visiting clients. I've also seen mobile adoption issues in SharePoint. There's a gap, and that gap isn't filled without a third-party solution or some serious development.
The strength of the KWizCom Mobile Extensions is the fact that it's designed around lists and customized based on what you need it to do. Doing the customization feels a lot like configuring a SharePoint web part. Menus and data can be presented in task-oriented and context-sensitive menus.
It's important to understand how these extensions are deployed and configured. They are deployed in a SharePoint server solutions .wsp to the SharePoint farm and are licensed per server. Following activation, they are configured on the lists and sites per site collection and can be easily configured right in SharePoint with extensions in the SharePoint ribbon. If you want to configure the extensions even more, there is a development license available, but for most organizations you should be fine working with the configuration available right in the SharePoint user interface.
Some of the key advantages with KWizCom's mobile solution:
- 100% Server-Solution – Zero deployment needed on smartphones and tablets
- Works on All Types of Smartphones – Thus, it relies on the device's web browser
- Zero Development Needed – Enables customers to build custom mobile solutions by simply using the product's configuration pages with no need for development
- Custom Actions – Enables you to provide your end-users with custom menus, that dramatically reduce the needed amount of clicks and page refreshes, which has huge impact over the mobile user experience!
- "Smart," Context-Sensitive Solutions – Enables displaying interfaces (fields, views, menus) that appear differently according to the current context (the user, status of the current record), so unlike SharePoint's built-in interface (menus and fields that are sometimes irrelevant), with KWizCom's solution you can implement web/mobile smart solutions that offer different forms and menus according to the current user's context.
- Solutions Both for Web and Mobile – Solution features (such as field-level permissions, custom constraints and more) are provided both for SharePoint web and mobile interfaces.
Figure 3: KWizCom Mobile Extensions: Key Performance Indicators, and Custom To Do Icons
It seems simple. Just add the extensions, and then simply customize the interfaces to focus on the key scenarios for your mobile workforce. However, knowing what the focus on can be the challenge. The other thing to understand is the difference between working with documents and working with applications. That's really the big differentiator. Different mobile solutions focus on different uses of SharePoint. In this case it's about the forms and the lists and not so much about the documents. It's not that you can't get at them, that's always been up to the device and the client apps, but the solution isn't focused on them.
I think the needs really come down to requirements of your mobile users. Listen for the scenarios. Understand if they are looking to use the applications, tasks, forms, events, etc… with access to quick information and dashboards on the road, or is it about access to documents offline. This isn't an offline solution clearly. It requires online access to the servers, but now even the hotel and the plane scenario provide you with online access.
KWizCom Mobile Extensions takes advantage of your current investment with SharePoint and addresses the needs of the explosion of devices in the enterprise. Now your dashboards and applications can be extended without the need for managing mobile applications on a more and more diverse set of devices and operating systems. Addressing these needs with custom code that would need to be written over and over is now addressed in a no-code solution.
KWizCom has focused on making the most out of your task lists and making forms work on SharePoint Foundation and WSS. When combining the solutions built by KWizCom, you'll find they have focused on the most common requests from enterprises. They understand the SharePoint customers have a wide variety of needs.
If you're interested I'd recommend reading more, then downloading a trial of the SharePoint Mobility Bundle which comprises the SharePoint Mobile Extensions, the SharePoint List Custom Actions Feature, and the SharePoint List Forms Extensions Feature. You can also check out their videos to see it in action.
This product review is a paid service of SharePointJoel.com voted by the community as Top SharePoint blog and viewed monthly in over 100 countries worldwide. How did I do? Do you need your tool reviewed?