So Evidently this Mobility is a Thing these Days

By Richard Medina posted 03-13-2013 22:28


So Evidently this Mobility is a Thing these Days

I won’t belabor the obvious but just give an example. Today is Wednesday. Monday’s NYT had an piece on this issue and its security implications: Where Apps Meet Work, Secret Data Is at Risk. It quotes a 42-year-old executive Ms. Simons, who says “I’ve got Dropbox, Box, YouSendIt, Teambox, Google Drive,” naming just five of the many services on her iPhone. The piece also mentions that Netflix found “employees using 496 smartphone apps, primarily for data storage, communications and collaboration”. Netflix is an overachiever in this regard but I think we see a trend here.

But so what? And what should you do about it? The frustrating thing about trends (like mobility, or SharePoint, or the cloud, or regulations, or litigation e-discovery) is that they don’t tell you what you should do. Maybe you should jump on board – or maybe you should ignore or run against the trend. Many of the organizations who spent tens of millions on gigantic monolithic ECM suites at the height of that trend may be thinking that they wished they jumped on a different trend – that of SharePoint and other lightweight options. The primary marketing tool for RM and discovery software has been a Chicken Little trend argument – that the sky is going to fall because everyone is sloppy with RM and discovery. So the vendors want you counter that trend and buy RM technology. But many CIOs have reasoned that if everyone is sloppy – if it’s a standard industry practice – then that’s a great argument against doing anything. I’ll wait until our bad behavior makes us stick out as egregious.

So given that mobility is a trend with an upside and a downside, you need to know what it means to your organization and you need a good set of instructions regarding what you should do. How should you evaluate your organization’s situation and what should you do to win? When you deploy Averail <<this was my co-presenter.>> you should know what you’re doing. So what should you know?

This post fills most of that gap. It doesn’t get specific with products or with many of the technical issues regarding configuration and security, but at least you’ll know what you need the configuration and security for.

So without belaboring the issue, what are the mobile trends? Users expect mobile applications, wireless access, “life splicing” (integrating professional and personal life), social media, multiple devices and platforms, BYOD supported by IT, synching all devices by using the cloud, “consumerization“. And what’s the result? Uncontrolled diversity, failed enterprise synching (far beyond desktop synching), system of engagement (versus system of record) problems. These include: content stored in multiple locations, no security control, version control, process control, backup, and failed access.

So how do we win with mobile ECM – get the benefits while controlling the downside – the risks and costs? I’m approaching it from an AIIM-ECM perspective rather than a mobile architecture or security perspective. The good news is that we can use what we’ve all learned from ECM:

  • We can discern what’s similar from what’s different, what’s simple from what’s complex. Introducing mobile resembles what happened when MFPs and radically distributed capture were introduced. Deploying “light” mobility to mature ECM applications like AP is simple, while deploying “high” mobility to social media applications involving customers is very complex.
  • We can also use solid methodologies from general IT and specific ECM. Insert mobile DM into the Program Framework approach that’s a Best Practice for enterprise ECM deployments. Do fast but rigorous Current State Assessments, Future State Recommendations, and Roadmaps that lead from one to the other. The picture here shows a piece of such a Roadmap.

So here are the 6 most important considerations we recommend if you are starting from an AIIM-ECM-focused stance and want to tackle mobile to optimize the upside benefits and control the downside costs and risks. (Note that I’m sometimes saying ECM (enterprise content management) and sometimes saying DM (document management). I have something specific in mind here, where DM is a smaller subset of ECM – but ignore that nuance if it’s a distraction.)

The 6 Key Considerations

  • The 6 Considerations are:
    1. How should we address our current state of Mobile DM chaos?Calling it “chaos” makes it sounds like a Chicken Little panic attack, but the point really addresses your organization’s Current State with respect to mobility and the baseline level of adequacy you have to meet no matter what you do strategically with mobile DM.
    2. How should we start adding mobility to DM?DM is going to be your foundation – so it better be solid. This point helps you standardize and “firm up” your ECM strategy so it’ll be a solid foundation for adding mobile. If it’s not solid, then address that first before getting ambitious about mobile.
    3. How should we identify and rank DM opportunities to implement? This point recommends three levels of ECM applications that are candidate for enhancing with mobility. They are Lightly mobile mature ECM applications, Moderately mobile enterprise social collaboration applications, and Highly mobile vertical LOB applications.
    4. How should we address Mobile DM inefficiency? This point addresses two problems. The first is the fact that most mobile technology isn’t ready for the prime time enterprise-worthy mobile DM. But that isn’t the big obstacle to efficiency. The big obstacle is that it’s really hard to optimize the twin requirements of participation and quality – you need all the relevant users to participate in Mobile DM, but they have to provide adequate quality.
    5. How should we address Mobile DM risk? Mobile DM ramps up the litigation and regulatory risks we know from digital environments – ensured retention is hard and defensible disposition is almost out the window. But the other issue pertains to security, particularly data leakage.
    6. How should we address individual Mobile DM projects within an ECM program? This last point explains how to incorporate your mobile DM projects into a sophisticated checklist or Program Framework that ensures that you address all the necessary conditions for rollout success.

The First of the 6 Considerations is How Should We Address Our Current State Of Mobile DM Chaos?

First, do a – focused, quick -- Current State Assessment for mobile and ECM. Assess the standard things you look at in an ECM Current State Assessment. Look at your processes and the people, technologies, and content that are associated with them. There’s a rock solid methodology for doing this and just email me and I’ll send you the instructions on how to do it.

But you should also assess and document the important mobile issues:

  • What’s the division of labor between IT and users (Does centralized IT control and manage mobile including the choice of devices, or is it a Lord of the Fliessituation, or is it a mix, something in between?)
  • What are the types of users and user scenarios (on this slide the document with the little people you see addresses that)?
  • What devices are folks using, like smart phones, Blackberries, iPads, and so on?
  • What are the ECM and mobile capabilities that folks are using?
  • What’s the architecture, configurations, and security like? 

The documents you see here are from a pretty sophisticated CSA, but all you may really need is a big spreadsheet.

When you do the Current State Assessment, you’ll see uncontrolled diversity of all those variables, failed enterprise synching, and what might be called system of engagement problems. (“Systems of engagement” is a useful jargon term to distinguish the collaborative and social technologies from the older “Systems of record” that most of us in ECM are familiar with.)

For basic mobile ECM health these need to be managed at the enterprise level. This is a necessary condition for the success of any future mobile ECM projects. The Current State information will be used as you develop your Future State and Roadmap.

The Second of the Considerations is How Should We Start Adding Mobility to DM?

As I said above, since DM is going to be your foundation – it better be solid. So you should standardize and “firm up” your ECM strategy so it’ll be a solid foundation for adding mobile. If it’s not solid, then address that first before getting ambitious about mobile.

You probably have a spectrum of actual or possible ECM applications. It’s a best practice to bucket them into a few well defined usage patterns. So start with the following typical DM usage patterns that can be extended with mobile:

  1. Basic DM and Access: This provides minimal capabilities to allow users to create, edit (with minimal version control and check-in/out), classify, store, and retrieve documents. For this, think Shared drives if used properly, Box, maybe Jive, etc.
  2. Standard DM and Access: Provides sufficient capabilities for most cases where users need DM, without requiring much collaboration, other workflow, or more advanced capabilities
  3. Collaborative DM and Access: Provides team- or activity-based, document-centric collaboration capabilities, focused on providing a common virtual environment to share information and interact on a particular task or  project. It also includes most of the Enterprise Social Collaboration capabilities.
  4. Process DM and Access: Rather than “knowledge worker” capabilities, this pattern provides “process or transaction worker” capabilities, such as production imaging and workflow, typically on “fixed content”. It also often involves integration with business systems like ERP.
  5. Specialized DM and Access: This pattern provides more specialized DM capabilities than Standard or Collaborative DM; including (just to take a few examples) DAM, technical document and data management, paper records management, etc. The idea is that it’s one of the other patterns – plus some special sauce.

Note that most of these five Patterns build on each other. So Standard builds on Basic. Collaborative and Process build on Standard. Specialized builds on Standard, Process, and Collaborative. (All of them can be usefully extended by adding devices (smartphones, iPads, etc.) and by providing cloud-based participation capabilities.)

Next, define which specific DM capabilities belong to each DM usage pattern. So for each of the 5 DM Usage Patterns, provide a set of specific DM capabilities. For simplicity I took out Process DM here, but you can get the idea. Standard DM has, let’s say, 15 specific DM functions that come with it.

Then do the same for specific mobile capabilities: specify which mobile capabilities belong to each of the 5 DM Usage Patterns. You may not be able to do this right now but actually when I’m done with this presentation you should be able to do it. So for example for most of them you need consumer capabilities (capture, access, and search via mobile devices). Process DM needs the ability to participate in workflows via mobile devices. Collaborative DM needs most Social Media capabilities.

Now you can match the Mobile DM usage patterns (and their sets of capabilities) to actual products and components in your DM and Mobile portfolio. I don’t picture that here. But Averail may be a good choice to fill your gaps. <<this was my co-presenter>>

The Third Consideration is How Should We Identify and Rank DM Opportunities to Implement?

First, look at your business processes and pick out some good opportunities. The “easier candidates” will be processes that today fall into those five DM usage patterns. Of course they will be sloppy partial fits or they may involve more than one pattern. They may have no mobile component, or an ad hoc or organic mobile involvement that just started developing when employees began using their own devices and applications. They may also include processes with heavy (possibly problematic) use of mobile – which you identified in the first sweep of your Current State Assessment (which we talked about in the first Consideration).

Then Apply the “Rollout Principle” to order your roadmap; it’s a simple best practice for ECM roadmap design: Roll out the simpler, lower risk, more independent, more foundational components before more complex, higher risk, dependent components.

Definitely do some kind of business case on your candidate opportunities to determine whether they are worth making mobile. For example, Mobile DM for Accounts Payable is a doable, relatively easy application. And for some organizations it’s a killer enhancement -- or it may be completely worthless. If you are developing a business case for adding mobile to your DM processes, note that adding mobile may change your case significantly. If you’re adding mobile to the classic mature DM applications, you will probably be trying to reduce costs. If you’re adding mobile to enterprise social collaboration applications like product development, you’ll probably be measuring more nebulous impacts, from time to market or quality to “innovation”. The picture shows an ROI calculator we use to test and communicate the impact on the business case that various choices have.

To identify and rank DM opportunities, we recommend that you segment them into three groups or levels. The three groups are:

  • 1) the easiest -- Lightly mobile mature ECM applications
  • 2) to the more complex and knowledge-worker focused Moderately mobile enterprise social collaboration applications
  • 3) to the complex and usually process-worker focused Highly mobile vertical LOB applications.

So consider the Classics first: Administrative ECM Applications that can be enhanced with mobility. Administrative applications for accounting, HR, and customer services are mature in ECM and are good place to start before tackling LOB applications or those requiring heavier mobility and redesign. And then consider Some More Classics: General and LOB ECM Applications that can be enhanced with mobility.

Next, consider Group #2: Moderately Mobile Enterprise Social Collaboration Applications. This group is more complex because the applications, involving Collaborative DM and social collaboration, are less mature and require more mobile design and technology. These applications are popular because they are some of the best applications for the new social technologies. We have found that these kinds of applications work well where there’s a start and end to the process, like creating a sales proposal at the end of a well-defined project. Note that I crossed off Enterprise Social Collaboration applications like expertise identification and community banking. Why? Because they are great ESC applications but have little DM.

Now consider Group #3, the most complex --- Highly mobile vertical LOB applications. These are typically high value (and thus high risk) applications that are developed primarily to be mobile. Unlike Group #2, they are often more process-worker focused. As you read through these, notice that they all depend on trained employees – not untrained “citizens” – to create and capture information, to participate in workflows, to search and access information, and to act on it.

The Fourth Considerations is How Should We Address Mobile DM Inefficiency?

Today, mobile DM applications with any complexity are failing for predictable reasons. The obvious first reason is that the Mobile DM technology isn’t yet robust enough to do what organizations often want it to do. The second reason is more interesting – it’s a participation versus quality issue.

Organizations want full participation and good quality in their mobile DM initiatives. They want everyone to play the game that should be playing the game, and they want the work to be of adequate quality. For example, they want documents captured via mobile device to be of good enough image quality and to be properly indexed. But most organizations push both too fast, thus failing at both.

The solution is to 1) combine mobile and centralized technologies and staff to jointly address the robust requirements, and 2) shoot first for participation, then ratchet up the quality. This doesn't mean that you reject quality at first, but rather that you plan to depend heavily at first on the centralized technology and staff for the heavy lifting, and then incrementally move more quality requirements on to the remote mobile users and devices over time.

The Fifth Consideration is How Should We Address Mobile DM Risk?

This is a bit simple but a first step is to divide mobile DM risk into regulatory/litigation and security risk. Regulatory/litigation risk is the danger of not keeping information you should and killing information when you should, thus causing problems and penalties in discovery, auditing, etc. Security risk is many things, the most problematic of which is that of your information getting into the wrong hands. Mobile DM using internal DM technology primarily poses regulatory/litigation risk. Mobile DM using external technologies and users poses both -- and is a huge concern. Chicken Little really has a point with this problem.

But there is good news:

  • There are best practices to help chip away at both. Many of them come from addressing the swamp of shared drives, email, and hard drives. Use those best practices to address that swamp and then apply them to mobile DM.
  • Successfully improving high value applications also controls risk. If you succeed at improving your processes with mobile DM so that they achieve the upside – you will also be controlling muchof the downside.

The Final Consideration is How should we address individual Mobile DM projects within an ECM program?

  • We recommend that you should roll out any DM solution with a systematic approach that addresses overall strategy, governance and operations, information architecture, process design and implementation, technology architecture and standards, and communication and training. These six components are best organized in an ECM program framework, but can be scaled down and used to manage any single, focused Mobile DM project.


  1. How should we address our current state of Mobile DM chaos?
    • Do a – focused, quick – CSA for mobile and ECM. Managing mobility to control risks and costs is a necessary condition for the success of any mobile DM projects.
  2. How should we start adding mobility to DM?
    • Standardize and “firm up” your ECM strategy so it’ll be a solid foundation for adding mobile. If it’s not solid, then address that first. Bucket your spectrum of ECM applications into a few DM usage patterns, mapped to sets of capabilities and then to products.
  3. How should we identify and rank DM opportunities to implement?
    • Look at your business processes and pick out good opportunities by doing the following. Fit the processes into your DM usage patterns, follow the rollout principle, and do a business case. Bucket your opportunities into Lightly, Moderately, and Highly Mobile, and consider the Lightly Mobile opportunities first.
  4. How should we address Mobile DM inefficiency?
    • Plan and deploy with a very realistic understanding of the limitations of mobile DM technology. Plan and manage your optimization of participation versus quality by focusing on user participation first and then ratcheting up expectations of quality. Start with a hybrid approach that uses centralized resources to fill the initial huge gaps in quality.
  5. How should we address Mobile DM risk?
    • Divide mobile DM risk  into regulatory/litigation and security risk. Mobile DM using internal DM technology primarily poses regulatory/litigation risk. Mobile DM using external technologies and users poses both -- and is a huge concern. The good news is that there are best practices to chip away at both and successfully improving high value applications also controls risk.
  6. How should we address individual Mobile DM projects within an ECM program?
    • Plan, roll out, and manage any mobile DM solution with an ECM Program Framework Approach. Scale down the Program Framework for a single focused project and scale it up if you are managing a complex Roadmap.

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