From Mobile Access to Mobile Working

By Dr. Antonis Papatsaras, CTO, SpringCM — September 23, 2013

Ubiquitous mobility means we’re always on. And, because we’re always on, we’re always working. Whether we’re waiting to board a flight, in the cab heading to our next meeting, or with spare time picking up the kids at the dentist. For many people, there’s not only a blurring of lines between work and home, but no lines at all. As one executive recently told the Wall Street Journal, "Office hours have gone away. It's all life hours now."
 
But while mobile technologies have enabled amazing advancements, most mobile apps today only provide a simple window – or access – to content. Access is useless unless we can actually interact with the content that drives what we do. Access was amazing a decade ago with Blackberry, and Apple took that a big step forward. But it's no longer sufficient.
 
Think about your job and those who report to you. We all need to make edits, compare documents, add comments, advance a workflow, assign tasks, approve content, and lots more. And we need to do this with the full range of content that drive our jobs: contracts, spreadsheets, financial documents, patient records, investor presentations, email and other precious content.
 
These capabilities are the “dial-tone” features in on-premise enterprise content management (ECM) solutions. But all of our investments in mobile will fail if we leave content trapped in old school ECM, which was never architected for today’s mobile and cloud-based world. Which brings up an important question: With all of the potential benefits of moving beyond the old model, why is content the last solution that has yet to shift to the cloud, and in turn go mobile? What’s stopping us?
 
As employers, we need to address mobile content demand now. If we don’t, we’re simply creating bigger problems that can cripple us soon and fast. Employees are already working around the lack of an enterprise content cloud by dropping corporate intellectual property into free, vulnerable, consumer-class cloud storage boxes.

Recent research has shown that half of employees use consumer cloud file-storage services, even though they are aware that their employer has a policy against it, and that executives are the worst offenders. I call it, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Corporate Edition.” Add in BYOD, and you have employees walking out the office door daily carrying corporate documents on untold, multiple devices. We have to do better.
 
The good news is that some enterprise-class Content Cloud Services have stepped up, finally taking our content mobile and finally taking the “management” out of ECM. Now, we can automatically synchronize the content on our devices with our content cloud so we always have “the right version” without doing anything or searching endlessly.

We can make sure the right people have the right access (and the right sharing privileges) to the right content. We can take advantage of the computing power of the cloud and enable mobile devices to perform complex content operations. And we can answer the broad spectrum of security concerns from IT, legal, and compliance teams to make sure intellectual property doesn’t leak and to ensure the company meets tight regulatory controls over content.
 
For example, a large health insurance plan wanted to launch a new multi-state service, but its parent company’s IT and content management infrastructure was archaic. In addition, far-flung account reps had to be self-sufficient while ensuring that they could have the most up to date content at their fingertips.  In just six months, the insurer armed its sales team with iPads and a Content Cloud Service that enabled reps to interact with all its most current collateral, contracts and credentialing forms. Now, reps can sell and close deals in one sitting, and e-sign and file all the appropriate documents. And the Content Cloud Service’s email client ensures reps keep all content within the service and off the device. The shift was a dramatic improvement that’s enabled the insurer to accelerate the roll out the service to more states.
 
Another company, a midsized medical supplier, found employees were freely storing and sharing confidential content via Dropbox. With its key content changing frequently – in one case seven times in three months for just one product – the company risked regulatory violations if reps sold product with out of date collateral.  The company banned the use of Dropbox, and deployed a Content Cloud Service that ensured sales and marketing teams had the latest and greatest content. And by pairing Salesforce CRM with the Content Cloud Service, the company can enable its mobile sales teams to launch automated workflows around sales opportunities. Reps can quickly identify the right piece of content for the right sales stage while meeting with a prospect. And reps can significantly streamline the sales contract process from creation through negotiation, amendments, approvals, e-signatures and archiving, all from their mobile device.
 
In general, be prepared for mobile to keep you and your company on its toes. Employees will continue to challenge the mobile status quo. They need to collaborate freely, and mobility must enable that collaboration. Just as we know that work doesn’t stop just because we’re not in the office, we need to empower our employees to put content to work anywhere at any time. Enabling mobile content management is that last mile in the shift to mobile. It appears hard, and it’s a brave new content world for many of us, but we finally have the opportunity to make mobile truly work for us.

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