by John Mancini, President and CEO, Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM).

Change sometimes comes at us even more rapidly than we’ve come to expect in these ever-changing times. A little more than a decade ago, virtually no one had a cell phone and almost every connection with the web was done on a PC running on Windows.

Now, there are more cell phone subscriptions than there are people on the planet. Pick a person at random across the globe, and he/she is more likely to own a cell phone than a toothbrush. For most of the world, the primary device to connect to the web is NOT a Microsoft platform PC.

Within this set of massive changes is one tied to scanning and capture and processes. When the cameras on mobile phones and smart phones crossed the 5 MP barrier, suddenly, it was possible to do full page capture on a mobile device.

Having a scanner in your pocket opens up some interesting opportunities — and challenges — for those focused on the business possibilities that occur at the intersection of processes and content. A few to consider…

We can move the process of capture even closer to the point of origination. One of the keys to driving paper out of business processes is to push the point of capture as close as possible to the customer. Well, you can’t get much closer than the device in their pocket. Mobile capture creates unprecedented opportunities to eliminate the paper drag on business processes. Per Distributed and Mobile Capture – Moving the Process Closer to the Customer (an AIIM and Kofax white paper), 32 percent of organizations would find considerable value in extending capture direct to customers, with 11 percent considering it to be “transformational.”

We need to get serious about porting our key processes and content to the web. Even though most organizations understand the potential of mobile technologies — per AIIM, 67 percent of organizations consider mobile technologies to be important or extremely important to improving their business processes — there is a significant gap in most organizations between intentions and reality. Over three-quarters of organizations have made no progress towards mobile-enabling their business processes.

Just because you can scan on a mobile device does not mean you can do effective capture. All of the same issues that exist in the world of traditional scanners exist on the world of mobile scanning, and then some. Issues like deskewing and image clean-up and image quality become even more problematic on a mobile device, where scanning environments (camera quality, light, skill of the “scanner operator”) are less predictable and controllable.  The migration of core capture tools that we have had with traditional scanners for the past two decades to mobile capture devices is a huge step forward and critically important to integrating mobile capture with process.

Incorporating mobile capture into processes forces you to think more radically about your processes. The change management issues associated with creating process solutions in a mobile, social, and cloud environment are significant. Organizations need to force themselves into rethinking some of the core assumptions they have about how processes work. For example, the geo-location capabilities of mobile devices (i.e., they always know exactly where they are) have enormous (and mostly untapped) potential when incorporated into processes. Putting mobile capture front and center is a useful discipline in rethinking processes from the very point at which they are initiated, and then following the chain into the back-end infrastructure.

Do not ignore the privacy and security issues inherent in mobile capture.  There is a key process issue in using mobile capture that many organizations ignore. Say you are an insurance company or a mortgage company and your agents are using mobile capture to transmit key documents back to your on-premise applications for processing. It is not enough to get the image successfully transferred back to the mother ship. You also need to make sure that once that is done and verified, that captured images are deleted from the agent’s phone.

Interested to learn more? Join the the Kofax and AIIM Tweet Chat on Wednesday, October 31 at 10:00am Pacific Time at #mobilecapturechat. See you there!

[Note: AIIM and Kofax investigated some of the above issues in Distributed and Mobile Capture — Moving the Process Closer to the Customer and in Process Revolution — Moving Your Business from Paper to PCs to Tablets.  Downloads are free.]

John Mancini is president and CEO of AIIM, the Association for Information and Image Management and author of “#OccupyIT – A Technology Manifesto for Cloud, Mobile and Social Era” as well as publisher of the AIIM Executive Leadership Council report “C-Change: The Impact of Consumerization of IT.”

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