Mobile Pitfalls and Getting Started

By Bob Larrivee posted 11-30-2012 13:21


In this AIIM 2013 preview, learn about how mobile tools fit into your overall enterprise content management strategy. I’ll be teaching a one-day pre-conference tutorial of AIIM’s ECM course. If you want to create a mobile-enabled organization; you need a strategy to make sure the promise of accessing content anywhere, anytime, by anyone can be delivered.

Enjoy this post on getting started on mobile: 3 common pitfalls, what to do first, and fitting mobile into a business process.

Tuesday, March 19
9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
AIIM Enterprise Content Management Practitioner Certificate Program

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3 Mobile device pitfalls (and how to avoid them)

Imagine a world where everything you do and everything you need for work could be managed through mobile devices. You do many things today through your mobile device, so why not your work too? You can capture information of any form whether voice, text, or image and share it with the world. You like moving pictures better; take a video and post it up to share on Facebook or Youtube. Now, how do you do that in the context of your business operations?

There are three things that readily jump out when the topic of mobile arises in relation to business use. These are:

·         Accessibility

·         Security

·         Usability

The concept of a mobile workforce is sound and often achievable. However, you have to tackle those three issues or there’s every chance your “mobile workforce” won’t be. Address these common points of failure logically and with good planning and watch your mobile organization take off.

Accessibilityis one of the elements I hear most often in that if there is no connection, there is no access. This is not only true of mobile but also cloud applications. So what you need to do is plan for the inevitable that at some point, connectivity will be a challenge. This means you train the employee on how to leverage their device capabilities like using WiFi over Broadband when there are no bars. For example, many coffee shops, fast food venues, and even hotel lobbies offer free WiFi. Why not camp there for a bit, enjoy a coffee, and do what you need to do?

Regarding security, the age-old question of what happens if the device is lost or stolen, arises. In these cases, you should have a governance policy in place to address use of access codes for the device and perhaps at an applications level. You should discuss content types and storage limitations of certain types of information and finally, how could you disable the device remotely once it is reported missing.

Usabilityis a topic that is often confused with accessibility. Just because something is accessible does not mean it is usable. In fact many applications are accessible but not mobile ready and so are cumbersome or difficult to use via mobile devices. If you are to move into a more mobile environment and way of working, you must also make the application mobile ready and since smartphones and tablets seem to be the way of the world, addressing this sooner than later is advisable.

 Moving to Mobile – what to do first

So, you want to move toward a more mobile workforce. Admirable, now, what are the first things you should consider? Should it be device types as in smartphones over tablets? Both? Should it be organizational or geographical? Perhaps it is a combination of these but even at that, even if you know what you want to do, what should you do first to make it all happen?

One of the things I have found is that many organizations make a conscious decision to move forward with mobile device use, but lack a full understanding of what it will take to get there. Device selection is a consideration as is the scope related to organizational and geographical adoption. Unfortunately, little consideration is given to the applications themselves. It is one thing to say we will use mobile devices to access the line-of-business application – insert yours here – and another to make it mobile ready. I like this to the use of frames in Web development and the levels of difficulty to navigate from one to another or even see what is in a frame when you are using a smartphone. You may have better luck with a tablet but the premise is still the same, the application is not tuned for mobile use.

One of the first things I would look to do is mobile enable the application, if that is at all possible. You might try and find apps for that as well. Given the number of developers out there building mobile apps, there may be something available that you can leverage with minimal effort. Take email as an example, there are many apps out there for the various operating systems that provide access to the email, calendar, and task applications. These apps can be free or you might have to pay a small fee for full functionality. Either way, getting something that works is what counts.

The key point here is that if you are to move to a more mobile working environment, the applications used must support the mobile worker through accessibility and usability. If they do not, you have not really gained anything. In fact, you could be creating frustrated users. Identify what is to be used by mobile workers and ensure it is mobile ready not just Web access to an application that frustrates those who use it.

What’s my phone got to do with a business process?

This is an interesting question and one that should be asked when addressing a mobile workforce. The answers will vary based on the function of the employee as well as the process related to that function. The way one interacts with others in a collaborative environment, accesses information, and even captures information will impact process. This is inevitable, though in some cases the impact might be small, there is still an impact based on the change of device use.

Think about the insurance industry where a claims adjuster goes to a location to assess and document damages. Where once a camera was used to document the damage, today we can use a Smartphone or tablet and upload the photos directly to the client claims file. In the medical industry there are now applications to monitor blood pressure, vital signs, record electrocardiogram (ECG), and even manage patient information from check-in to release. In waste management, tablets are being used to provide drivers with the best route information and pick-up orders in the cab and in real time. It is an amazing array of capabilities that are growing exponentially in every market segment. It is also a challenge related to process change and how things will be done once the mobile device is introduced.

As an example, a major hospital made the conscious decision to leverage Smartphone and tablet technologies for patient care. There was reluctance at first due to the comfort levels of using paper which had dominated this space since the very beginning. Staff questioned the efficiency of using mobile technology because it disrupted the processes established over time and the way they would interact with patient information. This is where change management and process design play a significant role. When a change is introduced like the use of mobile devices, training, governance, and impact to process are key considerations. You need to look at how things are done today – current state - and how they will be done using mobile devices – future state. Simply allowing use of a smartphone to access and capture information is not enough. It will impact process and the best way to approach it is to plan for it. Know what you have, what you do and how you do it. Plan for what you will have, what you will do and how you will do it.

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According to AIIM research, 40% of organizations have a lack of confidence in the accuracy, accessibility, and trustworthiness of electronic information. Enterprise Content Management has been one of the fastest growing areas of IT. This growth is driven partly by the need to contain content chaos, maximize employee productivity, improve knowledge sharing and reduce fixed costs.

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