The analysts are saying it, consultants are seeing it, organizations are talking about it. Mobile needs to be a part of any strategy/roadmap for information management. But it's not a simple as adding mobile devices to the network. 

It's Time for Mobile Ready Content

In September of 2010, CMSWire published the results of a poll What is the Next big thing for Information Management. The results were astounding -- by a better than 2:1 margin mobile technologies and work habits were selected. 

Looking forward to February of 2011, Fishbowl released their 2011 E2.0 & Information Management Trends report which provided a synthesis of a broad swath of industry predictions including a huge role for mobility. Then, the Associated Press reported on Feb 9, 2011, for the first time ever, smartphones out sold PCs.

This all points to the importance of mobile-ready data and mobile-ready content. Let me explain what I mean. For all the hype around mobility, mobile devices are merely a means to an end. Mobile devices are windows through which we access and pass information. Without the targets -- mobile websites, mobile ready data and content -- those devices are just bricks. The consumer space understands this. They have led the way in creating apps and mobile-ized web experiences that play well on the smaller formats of mobile devices and that perform well under restricted bandwidth and RAM.

Businesses need to wake up to this phenomenon. While executives make up a large portion of iPad owners, how many of them are using their new toys to access and interact with mission critical business information? In my opinion, too few.

Mobilizing Your Content Infrastructure

One notable exception is Medtronic, who announced last November that they purchased 4500 of the devices for their company. The goal: to show and tell Medtronic’s sales and marketing materials to prospects. The important piece that made this work was that their sales and marketing content infrastructure was enabled to deliver to mobile devices.

This is the important piece of the puzzle. Without a mobile-enabled content infrastructure, users are stuck either surfing desktop-oriented websites or using email for peer-to-peer information transfer. Neither approach is purpose-built for workers on the go.

Furthermore, mobile apps that grant access to shared network folders actually represent a giant step backward in enterprise information management. These sacrifice all the benefits of ECM systems, from versioning to dynamic conversion to metadata tagging and single-sourcing, on the altar of convenience.

Making Mobile a Part of Your ECM Strategy

The good news is that such sacrifices are not required. Most organizations have (or should have!) an ECM strategy in place. The underlying technology, like Oracle ECM and WebCenter or the multitude of offerings from other enterprise vendors, is loaded with features that can be used to mobilize your content and business data.

Organizations need to be thinking quickly about how they can engage with their partners and vendors to make the information they already have available to their mobile users. They need to do this without duplicating content, without doubling the management burden and without opening themselves up to governance headaches.

Editor's Note: Additional articles on Mobile in the enterprise include: