Last week I discussed the impact that smartphones have had, not only on our personal lives, but our business lives as well. I focused on how that device is transforming the way that we capture paper documents while away from our offices. In the second part of this discussion I would like to focus on the use of smartphones for accessing documents saved to an Enterprise Content Management solution and how it allows you to participate in workflows when away from the office.
Smartphone apps for Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solutions began appearing about five or six years ago. At the time they seemed more of a novelty, allowing manufacturers and vendors to check off a box on a request or proposal, but not seeing any real traction in everyday use. That has begun to change, as people traveling or working remotely, rely less on laptops and more on Surfaces, iPads and smartphones. As a result, apps that allow access to not only images, but workflows have become more valuable and practical.
I believe that some of the change has occurred because more organizations have adopted ECM and have mission critical workflows driving important decisions within the workplace. Document driven decisions need to be made quickly, to keep the flow of data moving and workers efficient. Others, who rely on the direction and guidance of managers, need input seamlessly and rapidly. Smartphone apps allow this to happen with simple ease.
So, what is it that makes a smartphone app so different than using your browser and an internet connection on your hand-held device? The primary difference is the use of the real estate on your smartphone screen. With a limited window size, the layout is everything. Think back just a few years ago and how awkward it was to view websites on your smartphone. Now, nearly every site is responsive, and fits your smartphone screen in a comfortable and useable format. On the rare occasion that you pull up a website that is not responsive, and designed for mobile use, you typically leave it and find an alternative site. The same thing holds true for an ECM app. The screen layout has to be designed to maximize the mobile viewing screen, and needs to be intuitive and easy to maneuver. Information has to be instantly accessible, and tasks such as workflow approvals concise and efficient.
My experience is that the users of smartphones within the business world not only expect an ECM platform to have an actual mobile app, but they are now using them on a daily basis. With more to do, and less time to do it, mobile use of ECM solutions is continuing to rise. More users are opting for cloud-based solutions due to their ease of maintenance and seamless use outside the office. The mobile app has become a natural extension of that platform that completes the solution.
Jack Arnston is a Principal at The Priton Group. He can be reached at email@example.com.