It's surprising to see any reluctance in the workplace to exploit mobility. While businesses are being revolutionized by smartphones, tablets and easy access to the cloud, many managers have a wait-and-see attitude or have made little progress towards paper-free processes that would enable mobile adoption.
In a recent AIIM study, "Process Revolution — Moving your business from paper to PCs to tablets," only 24% of companies have a mobile-enabled business process in place and 30% are still completely reliant on paper processes. It is promising that two-thirds of the 445 respondents recognize mobile technologies as important or extremely important to improving business process. So, why is the progress to embrace mobility moving so slowly?
It's even more perplexing that companies are ignoring the desires of workers, customers and partners to engage through mobile devices. Mobile-enabled processes increase access and promote frequency of participation, which leads to improved responsiveness both inside and outside the organization. With mobility's ability to build stronger relationships, it's easy to understand why companies who are taking the initiative to embrace it are reaping significant benefits.
Even taking the step to move content from paper to PC enhances efficiency and has the added advantage of making business processes mobile-ready. Research shows mobile information access, process interaction and local capture could improve the speed of response to customers, suppliers, citizens or staff by three-fold or more. In fact, in 70% of organizations using scanning and capture technology report the speed of response to customers, suppliers, citizens or staff improved by about that amount.
In addition, 52% of organizations said administrative staff would be a third or more productive if their workflow processes included the use of scanned forms and documents with automated data capture. Research also shows significant improvement in productivity could be achieved if field-based or traveling staff were able to connect via mobile devices. With this kind of hard evidence, what seems to be holding organizations back?
One of the biggest obstacles in the minds of most information managers considering mobile or cloud deployment is access security and the potential for data loss. The starting point to removing these obstacles is governance. While 70% of organizations have governance and usage policies, only 30% have effective rules regarding data security on either company-issued or personal mobile devices.
There is reason to believe organizations may forge ahead for the sake of the customer. The potential gains in productivity and customer response times may override security concerns in order to stay competitive. Industry Watch indicates a strong show of hands among respondents for using mobile-enabled systems to improve customer service. For customer processes, mobile technologies are important or extremely important to 75% of organizations, and social technologies are important or extremely important to 71% of organizations.
Although, when it comes to cloud computing, only 50% of organizations polled have yet to decide on a cloud policy across their entire IT infrastructure. Half of respondents would consider adopting a third-party or government cloud system for active content management, although 35% are waiting for security and reliability to mature.
What is clear is that the rise of mobile devices along with the use of the cloud is drastically changing the role of information professionals in a very short period of time. To compete in this new era, organizations need technology and information practitioners that are able to think about processes not in paper terms but in mobile terms, to question the use of paper in any process, to establish appropriate information policies and to understand how content is produced and consumed on mobile devices.
There is a process revolution going on but only for enterprises that are prepared to digitize content and enable mobile devices and the cloud to reap competitive advantage. It's a lot like Hobson's choice or being between a rock and a hard place—you either get on board and risk embracing mobile and cloud technologies or wait and see and risk getting nothing at all.
JOHN MANCINI is president of AIIM, the global community of information professionals. He is a social business evangelist, "#OccupyIT" and "8 things" eBook author, event speaker and blogger who sees information professionals as key to organizational effectiveness and is passionate about certifying knowledge and information management leadership. He encourages every information and technology practitioner to perform a free skills assessment at www.aiim.org/cip-practice-exam.