BYOD in Document Capture

By Jeff Shuey posted 04-20-2011 13:13


Get ready … it’s coming. Well, actually … it’s already here.

Yes! BYOD in Document Capture is already here and it’s just going to grow. Records Managers, Document and Policy Managers had better make plans … if they haven’t already.

BYOD means Bring Your Own Device. You probably have a mobile device within arms reach right now that has the capability to do Mobile Capture. Meaning you can “capture” an image of something --- whether it’s a picture of the butterfly outside your window, the auto accident you just witnessed or the contract your customer just signed. Mobile Capture is here.

The Future is Here … Have you Arrived?

  • Can you “scan” a document with a phone?
  • Can you “capture” a document with your Tablet?

The answer is a resounding YES!

But … that can’t be right … a mobile phone and tablet aren’t “scanning devices” by the traditional definition.

What about Quality, Format and Resolution?

  • Is the image quality bad? Maybe.
  • Is the image format correct? Maybe
  • Is the image resolution high enough? Maybe

No matter … people ARE taking pictures (i.e. scanning) with their mobile devices today and using them to capture receipts, documents and even signatures on pages.

Mobile devices are proliferating. Mobile devices are getting higher resolutions cameras.

Case in point: 5 megapixel cameras are not uncommon on many mobile devices today.

Mobile devices and the content they produce / capture will continue to be brought into the business process.

Companies better get used to it. It’s happening now and will continue to happen. Partially because of the widespread availability (and variability) of mobile devices and also because the ever increasing speed and availability of wireless networks.

The ECM industry has an opportunity here. I recommend stepping up and including plans to manage the content coming from mobile devices. Mobile Capture is just one element. My next post will talk about the increasing need to manage the pictures, audio and video content coming from mobile devices.

Can companies put policies in place to stop Mobile Capture? Sure.

Will it continue to happen anyway? Of course, it will. When companies block YouTube or Facebook do employees stop using them? No. They go to their mobile devices.

In regards to Mobile Capture there are a few things to keep in mind. These are capabilities that traditional scanners can handle out of the box. Mobile devices will not likely have these capabilities on-board because they take processing power (and time) to complete. A better solution is to do them in the cloud (yes, this is a euphemism for … doing processing somewhere other than the mobile device itself). Which means these steps will need to be done in software … on a server … in the cloud. Note: I will cover The Mobile Cloud in a series of follow on blog posts.

The Mobile Cloud (a primer):

The scanning industry calls pictures “images” --- I use the two terms interchangeably because in effect what Document Scanners do is take pretty pictures of paper. One big difference is that traditional Document (or Image) Scanners have been optimized for speed, image quality and a few other factors.

A few things to consider for Mobile Cloud Capture Solutions:

  • Are the pictures crooked? This is what the document / image scanning industry calls “skewed” and is usually corrected at scanning time with a traditional scanner.
  • Are the pictures clean? This is not what you may be thinking. It means do the images have speckles or streaks … or even coffee stains. Again, this is usually corrected at scanning time with a traditional scanner.
  • Does information need to be read / extracted from the images? Meaning does an OCR process need to be applied?
  • Are the images in a known format? Meaning can standard Form Processing applications be utilized? Or do advanced form and document processing algorithms need to be applied. This is what the scanning industry calls “Intelligent Document Recognition” or IDR.

Each of these are advanced and somewhat complicated functions that can make or break a traditional Capture / Scanning solution and will be critical to the success and future of Mobile Capture solutions.

My prediction is that the majority of these advanced capabilities will be done away from the mobile device. Meaning … in the Cloud (if you want to call it that). This is the right way to do this and it will give rise to a new segment within the document scanning industry. One where new entrants can make a name for themselves by building a platform that extends the market to Mobile Capture solution scenarios.

Mobile Capture is just one element of the BYOD Wave that is starting to hit the shores of most companies today. This post was mainly about capturing pictures --- by using the mobile device as a “scanning” device. Mobile Devices will continue to gain processing power. Wireless access will continue to expand. The smart companies will adapt to the BYOD Wave.

Where do we go from here?

  • Who are the leaders in the Mobile Capture space?
  • Does your company “allow” Mobile Capture?
  • Does your company “allow” employees to BYOD?

I look forward to your comments. Also, to your questions and concerns. As with all new(er) technologies there are risks, rewards and renegades.

Who are the renegades making it happen and getting it done? Will they be the ones that survive and thrive or will they be consumed by the bigger players?

Next Up: DAM --- Getting ready for Audio, Picture and Video

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