Enterprise mobile capture — using smartphones and tablets to scan documents as part of your organization’s important business processes — constitutes one of the changes in the content technologies that are ending the era of enterprise content management (ECM) and bringing in the era of “content intensive applications” (or term of your choice). For those getting started in enterprise mobile capture, there are two primary issues you should address as you plan your strategy.
A few things to know about enterprise mobile capture before you jump in: One example — there’s a huge difference between different kinds of mobile capture opportunities. The highly distributed capture of checks, business cards or travel receipts is very different than, for example, introducing mobile capture to line of business processes like loan applications. They differ in business objectives, scale and complexity. You can’t get from one to the other by just quantitatively “scaling up.” They are qualitatively different and you will not succeed in mobile capture unless you treat each appropriately.
A great way to start is to:
- Identify your candidate mobile capture opportunities.
- Clarify the business drivers, size and complexity of these opportunities.
Identify Your Candidate Mobile Capture Opportunities
What makes a capture application good or bad? Good capture applications in general typically have the following characteristics:
- Capture is necessary and workflow is highly recommended for them, though you can get great benefit by starting with capture alone. I should add that not only capture but mobile capture is probably necessary or desirable — not just optional.
- The required technologies actually work really well.
- The applications are mature, they’ve been proven in production with your peers, and you can show that you can get ROI if you do them well.
- Most organizations have them.
OK, those are good criteria for capture applications in general. We have to take them a little loosely because mobile capture is still young so the technologies may be a little dodgier and some of the killer applications for mobile are not yet mature. But let’s start conservatively and start with the safer mobile capture applications that are both mature and can also benefit from mobile capture — like AP in accounting and/or an application like loan application processing.
First, consider the “classics”: administrative ECM applications that can be enhanced with mobility.
Administrative applications for accounting, HR and customer services are mature in ECM and are often a good place to start before tackling LOB applications or those requiring heavier mobility and redesign.
Then consider a few more “classics”: general and LOB ECM applications that can be enhanced with mobility.
They are usually more complex — and both higher value and higher risk than the Administrative ECM applications. If you mess up, you’re going to significantly impact your customers and business.
Moving up on the complexity scale, there are highly mobile vertical LOB applications.
These are typically high value (and thus high risk) “e-clipboard” applications, developed primarily to be mobile. Notice that they typically 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.
In this category you can find some highly specialized applications that are great candidates for mobile capture.
Now that you have a list of candidate opportunities to consider pursuing, let's take a look at the decision rules that will help you sort and prioritize your list and clarify what you’re getting into.
Clarify Business Drivers, Size, Complexity of Opportunities
Let's start from the top. First, we can segment all your capture opportunities into centralized and mobile — which are of course highly decentralized. There are different types of decentralized mobile capture applications, and it’s important to understand the differences. They may differ in the following three ways:
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