Talking about Mobile Content Management

By Laurence Hart posted 09-08-2011 11:25


Wow! Busy times are afoot. Whenever I think I’m going to get a breather, something else happens to run my schedule through a blender. I’m not sure how I’d be surviving without my mobile devices.

Actually, I know exactly how I’d be doing, both poorly and great. I’d be focused more on the tasks at hand but missing critical items. Sometimes I have to really think about how things were like before the cell phone while there are many people out there that have never really had to live in that world.

In the midst of this, we had a twitter AIIM ECMJam on Mobile Content Management. It was a very interesting discussion as people either agreed completely on the answer to a question or had almost religious loyalty to their world view.

  1. What’s a mobile device for purposes of this conversation? This led to a little debate around which side of the fence laptops fell. I view mobile by form-factor: small screens, small input devices, and limited bandwidth (though that distinction is fading). While laptops may be considered mobile, solutions used for traditional desktops work the same for laptops.
  2. What is the key difference between Mobile Content Management & “normal” Content Management? Back to the form factor with an extra twist, roaming networks. The mobile device will leverage a potpourri of networks, so getting information out the user quickly is critical. Interfaces need to be streamlined to the minimum. Generally speaking, Mobile Content Management should focus on specific business solutions as opposed to the broader Content Management issues.
  3. Where does Mobile Content Management fit in with an ECM Strategy? Right there on the front-line. This is a new way to access content. We went through the same transition with the Web Browser in the 90s. It is just a new interface complete with unique challenges. People will want to use it and IT organizations need to support it if they want to maintain any level of governance.
  4. What business problems is Mobile Content Management primed to solve?  This is a matter of opinion. I think it solves the “We need Sarah to approve this by 3pm but she is at an all-day seminar” problem. Essentially, time-constrained content consumption is solved. It also solves the “Lee can’t disconnect from work so now he can poke his nose in whenever he desires” problem, which isn’t a business problem per se.
  5. Beyond receipts, what can mobile capture do? Scanning is old-school. I’m not carrying around a scanner, no matter how small or cool. When I have multiple devices to perform one task, we are outside of Mobile Content Management. I am taking pictures, recording video, and using social media with my mobile device. I may want to put them into my Content Management system but I’m not scanning anything.
  6. Is this a cloud-only phenomenon? No. Some people have problems disassociating Cloud and Mobile. They are both consumer driven and easy for users to use when IT isn’t being responsive. They are complementary, but they aren’t required. I can use my Mobile device to access content behind the firewall. Mind you, there is a lot of work that has to be done to make this work correctly, but it is possible and everyone needs to realize that firewalled content is not going to be liberated and placed into the cloud in the near future.
  7. Do you have to have an App to be providing Mobile Content Management? No, but it helps. This is funny as the people that insist on Apps are the same people that insisted we use browsers in the 90s. I prefer apps because they allow native integration into multiple aspects of the device. Yes you have to support multiple operating systems but that has been true of non-mobile devices for decades. I think Apps are perfectly aligned to addressing specific business problems while browser-based applications will work well for the whole of Content Management. A successful strategy is going to require both for vendors over the long-term.

Mobile is a challenge because it is a new form factor and its adoption is beyond the control of the organization. The best ways to address it isn’t to try and out-tech the other guys, but to build solutions around specific business problems. Every other detail, cloud v internal or app v browser, is subservient to addressing the needs of the users.

One last thought that has come from this is that the traditional Content Management vendors need to work on their Mobile Strategy and execution. It needs to be easy and readily demonstrable to the masses. Otherwise the link between Mobile and Cloud will strengthen and they will be left out in the cold.

#ECM #ContentManagement #mobile #cloud #ScanningandCapture #CMS