When it comes to enterprise systems, the one common thread running through all of them is their intent to improve enterprise decision making. All of them support disparate processes and cycles. But at the end of the day the bottom line is to improve the quality and time of decision making. The same is true in case of enterprise content management system popularly known as ECM.
Your ECM manages content and documentation at enterprise level so as to make it readily available to the decision making authorities whenever needed. The ones who call the shots for the enterprise need to have ready access to relevant information so as to have a clear picture of things before they make a move. A timely decision can in fact give you an edge over the market. Seems all that easy? Well it’s not!
Here’s the thing. The modern day enterprises have dispersed yet connected workforce. Business dealings are breaking free of the geographical barriers. The customer base is growing beyond local markets and so is the vendor base. More and more people are moving around. The idea of a fixed work station or work space is gradually but surely waning away. So when your key decision makers are on the move how do you make enterprise content available to them? You go mobile as well with your ECM.
Mobile ECM combines the features and functions of your cell phone apps with enterprise content. This means your director of sales and marketing can have ready access to a vendor report via his BlackBerry or iPhone even when he is flying. Or your managing director can easily access his emails and respond to the urgent ones through his iPad.
Traditional ECM & Mobile ECM – What’s the Difference?
So what’s the real difference between the traditional ECM and mobile ECM? Roaming networks! As against the traditional ECM setup, the mobile ECM will have its network extending to laptops, iPads, smartphones, BlackBerry, and whatnot. Secondly, the mobile ECM will be more focused on business solutions that will get across the right kind of information to the right person. The traditional ECM will take care of information availability. But it will also look into the general problems prevailing in content management function across the enterprise.
So then where does mobile ECM sit in your enterprise content management strategy? It sits right at the top of the ladder. You cannot expect to go mobile with your enterprise content without really making it a part of your strategy. You have new interfaces to work out, new challenges to handle, and new devices to streamline and interconnect. So, mobile ECM is certainly a frontline initiative for any enterprise that is looking to make information readily accessible.
Cloud Content Management & Mobile ECM
People often toss cloud and mobile ECM into same mix. At times, they even confuse them to be interoperable concepts. But the fact is mobile ECM is not cloud specific. In fact, they are complementary to each other. They are both called into action when IT is inaccessible, non-feasible, or even non-responsive.
Just like mobile ECM, cloud content management or CCM has been gathering steam for quite some time now. But despite that, it is still a part of the larger ECM strategy just like mobile ECM. Given the security issues of the cloud environment, presently it seems highly unlikely that enterprises would place their critical content in clouds. But then you never know! We already are witnessing a shift in the way enterprises are using their content to interact with markets and industry counterparts. So we can certainly have a surprise on our hands going ahead.
Challenges Faced by Mobile ECM
One of the fundamental devices used in mobile ECM is cell phones or smartphones. Be it an iPad or a BlackBerry, it’s a device that is beyond organizational control. And what makes it more lethal is that we are still in awe of its capabilities and reach. We are still exploring this new platform for its potential. This means we cannot exercise control over the device. In that case, we need to be in complete control of the channel through which we deliver the content.
First of all, we need to make sure that whatever content we are delivering is authenticated and secured. Secondly, we have to ensure that only relevant content is delivered. You don’t want your marketing manager to receive an internal audit report while he is waiting for a quarterly sales target. At the same time, you need to be sure that you are delivering the right content to the right person. So make sure that you are delivering your vendor report to the marketing manager and not a marketing executive or a salesman.
So the three important things that you need to take into consideration here are security of the content, relevance of the content, and authorized access to the content. In addition to this, you always have the challenges pertaining to device memory, screen size, etc.
Mobile ECM Going Forward
Looking at the current scenario, one can say that enterprise decision makers certainly have a lot more traveling to do in the coming years. This means smartphones and iPads and even laptops are going to be the chosen device for this traveling herd to stay connected to the enterprise. They are going to check their emails, look up for important data, and even exchange valuable information through these devices. The time is certainly ripe for vendors to try their hands at developing apps that facilitate exchange of enterprise content over these devices. They can certainly dare to be innovative and set themselves apart in this niche market.