There are essentially two things which ECM (or, Enterprise Content Management) is seeking to provide with regards to business-related content – accessibility and workflow enhancement. Sure, there are plenty of other considerations as far as storage, strategies, tools, security and methodologies are concerned, but at the end of the day you can boil it all down to how available data is and/or how it augments workflow-based activity. Even in the case of security, you could make the argument that deteriorating protection leads to the degradation of workflows. In other words, your ECM solution should be delivering benefits to your business processes, and if it isn’t doing that, something is very wrong.
Recently, the issue of mobility has been raised in accordance with the growing list of requirements that businesses are demanding of enterprise content management. Specifically, how can an entire organization become more mobile-centric with the way they share, access, store and manage their business-critical data? As it turns out, one of the most obvious ways of achieving mobility (while at the same time relieving some of the strain on IT services) is through what’s being called the “bring-your-own-device-to-work-movement”. Just as the name implies, the idea is that employees utilize their own devices in lieu of the company having to provide them with yet another machine.
This BYOD to work approach makes sense because it helps to achieve multiple things simultaneously. For example, when employees are using their own devices, a business can:
Save on additional / extraneous IT costs
Be sure that they are able to quickly contact individual employees
Make sure that certain personnel are receiving and can access important data
Build a more satisfied workforce (because they’re able to “personalize” their workspace / machine if you will)
Create a more effective workforce
Think about it, if a company doesn’t have to spend a few extra hundred thousand bucks on a slew of new machines, that capital can perhaps be put toward projects which are lagging behind others. Budgeting is always a touchy subject, particularly when IT is involved, so emphasis on a mobile BYOD approach can serve as a great short or long-term solution.
Maintaining constant contact and communication with employees is also extremely viral. Often times, when people are given “a company device / computer”, they only tend to access it when they’re at work. Of course virtually every business out there collects and stores emergency contact information for all of their employees, but this is really just another step isn’t it? Would it not be more efficient to simply plug all communications directly into the individual’s principal “go-to” device? Furthermore, enhanced communication means greater overall effectiveness (and this type of mindset can really transform the way business is accomplished).
Then there’s the notion of whether or not employees are actually receiving important data and documents in a timely manner. You can never be sure about how personnel might be utilizing their hardware, you see. Rather than assume that personnel are getting the goods, why not integrate their personal devices into the system instead? Moreover, even if company machines are handed out, it’s still useful to deploy a mobile approach to information sharing, just to be on the safe side.
Lastly, there’s the idea that a group of workers will become more satisfied and effective if they’re allowed to use their own devices and engage in personalization of their work spaces. You know what they say, “a happy worker is a competent one”, right? One might even argue that it actually costs more money to eliminate individualism within an organization and that it also limits the overall potential of the employees working for you. A much better, more well-rounded and sensible approach is to simply let people organize themselves.
Having said that, there are some potentially negative issues to consider with regards to enterprise content management and the whole BYOD mobile movement; for starters, there’s the issue of adherence to policy. In order to build an effective mobile approach to ECM you’re going to have to make sure that all employee devices are compliant with any and all policies which might affect security or compatibility. In order to achieve this, some organizations might elect to create lists of specific devices which can be used. Additionally, the IT department must also be prepared to deal with problems related to specific types of devices and models, just so that they can ensure everything is compatible as well as up-and-running properly at all times.
Increasing use of cloud computing technologies in enterprise content management is also becoming quite fashionable. Naturally, this makes perfect sense as clouds offer power, scalability and low-cost solutions for both storage and delivery (not to mention various included apps). Likewise, IT groups often find it much easier to deal with cloud services as they are often remotely controllable and don’t require on-site hardware maintenance.
The bottom line is that mobile approaches to ECM are beginning to take hold in the business world. As always, the issue of security is vitally important, and any business looking to move into the mobile realm shouldn’t underplay its importance. Right now it’s in an organization’s best interests to explore what mobile ECM has to offer, it’s probably only a matter of time until it becomes the de facto way of doing things.