Moving Forward with Mobile Capture: The Whats, Whys, and Hows


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Much breath, blood, and ink has been expended recently to identify and describe the opportunities surrounding the use of mobile technology to capture information. Much less, however, has been directed toward explaining just how you are to go about getting this done!

This presentation, first delivered at the 2013 Document Strategy Forum, explores many of the key practical realities associated with actually achieving success. Viewers will learn/validate/confirm the organizational dynamics that are driving realizations toward mobile capture in the first place, understand the leading options for actually inputting the content, and recognize how the technology may change your current processes.

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  • About me … in brief, a 20-year veteran of the capture/content/process management wars.The unifying thread for me is the ability to derive Maximum Total Value from your information solutions – NOT the bells and whistles of any given solution per se. Some of my most favored mantras in this regard are in the handout I brought, along with a brief description of a certification course I teach on and around the subject and some other propaganda.
  • Let’s begin with something I found that looks to be the ultimate in mobile capture … this from a TED presentation several years go by PranavMistry of, at the time, the MIT Media Lab in Cambridge, Mass.
  • Pretty cool, huh? Definitely gives us something to think about as we think about capture in general, and mobile capture in particular.Let’s start at the very beginning (hey, Sound of Music fans!):Information capture is getting information from the original source into the information management system. It can include the process of transforming content into a format that can be reliably searched, retrieved, and used. Sources include hard copy, emails, faxes, Web content, and information contained on mobile devices.
  • Mobile capture is a variation on this theme, focusing as it does on the use of devices that are designed to move. D’oh!Image:
  • For many, the term ‘capture’ conjures up images (you should forgive the pun) of scanners. But there’s a whole lot more to it than just that – especially in the mobile arena:- using an app – Scansnap- using the camera to take digital pictures - buying things, either by using a smart device to put things on a credit card or via near-field communications (“tap and pay”)- recording digital video- geotagging to verify location- barcode reading to manage inventory- e-signatures for acceptance/approval- electronic forms to conduct polls- and let’s not forget,VOICE! (many of these things are phones, after all!)Images
  • One of the reasons for the explosion of interest in these things is that today’s technology allows us to extend our existing business processes into the field using mobile devices – a classic example of how you can use new technology to maximize the total value of your infrastructure. Take, for instance, a scenario involving a salesperson on the road. Rather than getting the customer to physically sign on a paper-based dotted line and then bring that paper back to the office for scanning, why not capture the signature on a tablet screen and beam the order back to HQ while still on-site instead of waiting to come back to the office?Same process, but faster execution and much shorter time-to-money. “Now how much would you pay!”Image:
  • A third major driver is simple economics, as the commoditization of the various mobile technologies in play is constantly pushing prices down, boosting capabilities up, and expanding the number of users to greater heights than ever before – to the point where more people in the world today have a cell phone than a toothbrush. Makes you think, doesn’t it?
  • The result is that – as a report from AIIM recently reported – “Some businesses are already extending capture to smartphones and tablets … [though] much of this is ad hoc, with only 5% using apps on smartphones, and just 2% extending this to tablets.” Put in other words, there’s loads of opportunity to take advantage of this new twist on an established capture theme if only you can get your head, and your organization, around it.Source: AIIM White Paper: Distributed and Mobile Capture: Moving the Process Closer to the Customer
  • A big part of this is technology, of course, and a big part of THIS is architectural since mobile devices mean decentralized access and new and probably greater network and bandwidth requirements.One response is to develop native apps to run locally on mobile devices. This not only takes some of the load off the traditional server and network by putting the computing and communications engine right in your pocket, but it positions such apps for use in even the most remote environments – including subways and airplanes, where an Internet connection is not a given.For what is a mobile device if not the ultimate distributed, occasionally-disconnected computing client? Architecturally and philosophically, it is the logical extension of today’s conventional wisdom. Technically and financially, though, the story is somewhat different, as the different platforms – iGadget, Android, Windows Mobile – are incompatible and thus require their own app versions!In some cases they are even specific to particular products in the same family (e.g., iPad vs. iPhone) or to particular versions of the same operating system (iOS 4 vs. 5). There is an alternative, of course, which is to develop the app in question as a Web app, which like as not will work across all platforms. And eventually, the situation probably will resolve itself in the same way it did back when PC/Macintosh and Java/.NET were either/or considerations. But for now, it is leading many organizations to standardize on a single platform in order to exert some measure of control over the time and cost acquiring, supporting, and developing software for the devices – never mind the security and privacy of the information they carry.Image
  • The corollary to this is the need to craft an information architecture that can accommodate mobile devices – and much of this work has to do with developing requirements for connecting to and with a variety of models, operating systems, and user interfaces.One way to minimize the effort is to create an application layer that provides the same data, security, and functionality to the user whether it’s a native mobile or a Web app – in other words, make the UI dependent on the device and mode of access, but keep the underlying data layer independent.Image
  • Governance is another huge challenge, as the existence of so many mobile devices means there are just that many more potential outlets through which sensitive or unvetted information can now leak, or erroneous or perhaps even malicious information (e.g., a virus) can be captured and uploaded. Device security, user authorization and authentication, and other familiar practices need to be extended outward to this wild new world, and the procedures and policies must be carefully thought through and promulgated by a committee that includes representatives from all over the organization: IT, finance, legal, records, lines of business, etc.
  • This mention of policies is critical, for about the only thing worse than having bad policies is having none at all.
  • To aid input and interoperability
  • Records or not?
  • Starts with the content, as in the contents of your house. But that’s not enough …
  • You’ve probably already know what I’m going to say next: what about the user?Security here comes in two parts:authentication: you are who you claim you areauthorization: your allowed to use the resources you’re accessingThey’re not the same thing!
  • And how about the device itself?PasswordsRemote locationRemote wiping
  • Not done yet, as the connection between the user/device and the content likely the greatest point of vulnerability of all!Wifi at Starbucks, etc. isn’t secure
  • The return loop … critical to successful implementations – psychologically if not technicallyDriven by push (or “server push”) technologyOften based on information preferences expressed in advance (“publish/subscribe”)Mobile notification techniques involve applications driven by push technology, or server push, which describes a style of Internet-based communication where the request for a given transaction is initiated by the publisher or central server. Email is probably the most widely-used example of a push-enabled mobile notification application. Push technology is contrasted with pull technology, where the request for the transmission of information is initiated by the receiver or client.Mobile notification services are often based on information preferences expressed in advance. This technique is known as a publish/subscribe model; in it, a client subscribes to various information channels that broadcast information such as news and sports scores. Whenever new content is available on one of those channels, the server pushes that information out to the user.Other push-enabled notification applications include market data distribution online (stock ticker information), chat/messaging systems (Webchats), auctions, online betting and gaming, monitoring consoles, and sensor network monitoring.Image:
  • Back-end Needs- Enabling sites to recognize devices as mobile platformsUsing smaller pictures to use less bandwidth and horsepowerDesigning with different, more readable fontsUtilizing text, email, and – yes – voiceThe flip side of this coin is mobile information access, or the ability to receive information on mobile devices – which until recently had relatively small screens and keyboards, limited memory, and relatively weak processors compared to laptop or desktop computers.Even though today’s newest smartphones and tablets belie these once-established facts, the experience – and the technology – is different enough that accommodations must be made to ensure information is displayed properly and applications run well. One common technique is to optimize your intranet, extranet, or Internet site for mobile access: which is to say, to enable the site to recognize the device as a mobile platform, and to serve up its pages in a format specific to mobile viewing: smaller pictures requiring less bandwidth and horsepower to transmit and render; different, more readable fonts; fewer or no scripts, etc.Other, more mundane ways of pushing information out to mobile devices are by text, email, and – let’s not forget! – voice, all of which are perfectly serviceable as conduits for receiving information and are commonplace in even the dumbest of smart devices.Image
  • Metrics for success:The usual, such as speed, accuracy, throughput, exception handling – it IS capture, after all!But also:- Timestamp – when was it captured?- Geolocation – where was it captured?- User information – who captured it?- Turnaround time – how long did it take to receive confirmation of receipt?- Photo metadata (resolution, exposure, image size, etc.) – how high is the content quality?- Bandwidth required – how big a “pipe” does the content need to travel back and forth?
  • Which metrics depend upon the application/use case. Key point to remember is that you’re capturing information for some business purpose, not for its own sake!Mobile capture thus should be adopted, measured, and improved according to the business requirements.- Faster completion, by reducing lag time between steps in the field and steps in the office- Greater accuracy, by reducing or eliminating need to (re)type information and/or reconstruct field conversations- Greater efficiency, by recording signatures, say, on the spot, rather than having to scan paper later- Better interoperability, enabling systems and people to work better, and work better together(the Holly Group catchphrase)This next video shows you the latest in this regard. Same guy as opening video.Image:
  • Moving Forward with Mobile Capture: The Whats, Whys, and Hows

    1. 1. DOCUMENT Strategy Forum April 29-May 1 • Greenwich, CT MOVING FORWARD WITH MOBILE CAPTURE: THE WHATS, WHYS, AND HOWS © 2013 DOCUMENT Strategy Forum. All rights reserved.
    2. 2. Moving Forward with Mobile Capture: The Whats, Whys, and Hows Steve Weissman, Minister of Process & Information Betterment Thinker, Teacher, Advisor, Guide Holly Group April 29, 2013 • Best practices consultant, industry analyst, trainer • Creator/producer of CIP video tutorials and the only accredited CIP prep classroom courses • Instructor for AIIM ECM, BPM Certificates • President of AIIM New England Chapter • Regular contributor to DOCUMENT and other leading publications…
    3. 3. Where We’re Headed
    4. 4. Where We Came From • Getting information from the original source into the information management system
    5. 5. The Difference? • Mobile capture utilizes devices that are designed to move
    6. 6. More Than Just Scanning
    7. 7. Driver: Process Extension Image:
    8. 8. Photo: Johan Larsson, “Flipboard,” July 22, 2010 via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution Driver: The ‘Consumerization’ of IT
    9. 9. Driver: Consumer Dynamics
    10. 10. Mobile Capture is on the Radar Source: AIIM White Paper: Distributed and Mobile Capture: Moving the Process Closer to the Customer
    11. 11. Image: Challenge: Enterprise & Application Architecture
    12. 12. Design With Mobility in Mind
    13. 13. Challenge: The ‘ITization’ of the Consumer
    14. 14. ©istockphoto/Warchi Challenge: Governance
    15. 15. Policy Development
    16. 16. ©istockphoto/Gunnar Pippel Content Tagging
    17. 17. Image: outage-not-hacked/ Social Communications
    18. 18. 19 Challenge: Security
    19. 19. User Authentication & Authorization 20
    20. 20. Device Protection 21
    21. 21. Connection Protection
    22. 22. Challenge: Notification/Confirmation Image:
    23. 23. Challenge: Back End & Bandwidth Image:
    24. 24. Challenge: Usability Image:
    25. 25. Challenge: Metrics
    26. 26. Process Ramifications Image:
    27. 27. Full Circle
    28. 28. DOCUMENT Strategy Forum April 29-May 1 • Greenwich, CT THANK YOU! © 2013 DOCUMENT Strategy Forum. All rights reserved. Steve Weissman, Minister of Process & Information Betterment Thinker, Teacher, Advisor, Guide Holly Group 617-383-4655