Information Management On Mobile Devices

Information at every company is growing — the quantity of documents, version control and various data stores all present unique problems and no two tactics for document management are the same. Now attempt to take those challenges on the road with some version of document management on mobile devices and the issues compound.

It sounds so straightforward: use your mobile device to access, store and manage documents from the cloud and work with them much like you would on a desktop. Most believe this should be easy for all workers, but many technologists have tried to tackle the issue with some success yet challenges remain.

Introduction

The way organizations manage company information sits at the crossroads of just about all business processes. Day after day and week after week, employees are wasting a significant amount of time dealing with the myriad of challenges related to working with company documents — across the entire document lifecycle. That wasted time is a silent killer to productivity, which can cost organizations a tremendous amount of money in opportunity costs.

In a recent study, IDC revealed that the unproductive time workers spend as a result of information management inefficiencies amounts to a loss of 21% of the organization’s total productivity, which costs the organization an astounding amount — nearly $20,000 per worker per year.

Early American colonist William Penn embodied this sentiment best when he said, “Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.” The data in this whitepaper was compiled from a research project commissioned by M-Files to better understand how companies across the globe are managing their growing store of company information. With resounding clarity, the consensus is that document management remains a challenge.

Document Management On The Move – Information Management On Mobile Devices

While intelligent information management (IIM) encompasses so much more than the catch-all term of ‘document management’, a core functionality of any IIM platform is the ability to store, manage and track documents.

Furthermore, any IIM platform should provide for the ability to manage company information offsite with a mobile device. When evaluating mobile capabilities of a document management system, there are several features to look for. The most prevalent is access to your data anytime and from anywhere. As people are working remote with increasing frequency, workers demand instant answers while on the move — things like client details or notes, A/R Balances, invoices, HR paperwork and everything in between. Ensuring that a document management platform’s mobile app supports workflows is also important, making it easy to review and approve documents and complete assigned tasks.

But how prevalent are challenges related to managing information on a mobile device? This report drills down to the heart of mobile document management, surfacing statistics on how organizations in nine different countries are managing company information and how they are facing the challenges presented by their ever-increasing store of data.

Accessing Documents from a Mobile Device

The most elementary of all document management functions is the ability to access documents — to retrieve them from wherever they may be stored. Increasingly, the ability to access information away from the office on a mobile device is becoming more and more important as the mobile workforce continues to grow.

Work is increasingly becoming a thing you do rather than a place you go. The modern worker demands efficiency of information access for several reasons — to work remotely, make use of commute time or hot desking. Companies can realize massive efficiency gains by enabling staff to work with critical information from anywhere, anytime, on any device. How simple is it for workers to search and retrieve documents when away from the physical office location?

The vast majority (81%) of respondent’s report that they need access to corporate documents and information on their mobile device with only 38% of these respondents reporting that it is quick and easy to find the information that they are looking for on a mobile device.

Many business workers utilize more than one device for work and personal use. They need a simple and secure way to access files from each of those devices without having to save a local copy on each one. And it’s not just access. People need to be able to work normally — as they would if they were in the office. Sharing, editing, approving and signing documents are all critical capabilities when working remotely. Providing access to information from any device, anywhere unlocks tremendous productivity. But to what extent can remote workers use their mobile devices for document management.

We asked survey participants: Using the systems/tools provided by your company, which of the following are you currently able to do using a mobile device?

Of those respondents who need to access corporate documents and information on a mobile device, 43% cannot access company documents and files and 54% don’t have the ability to share or collaborate on documents (46%).

One in ten (10%) respondents report that they can’t do any of the actions using the systems/tools provided by their company.

Given the high percentage of respondents (81%) reporting that they need to access corporate documents and information on a mobile device, addressing this functionality gap is key to the success of mobile document management.

Reviewing, Approving and Signing Documents

From invoices to service agreements to internal documents and everything in between, document workflows are irrevocably linked to the ability to review, approve and sign documents. How often do employees find themselves having to print a document, sign it themselves or get it signed? Pretty often, it seems and thus should become an integral component of document management in the context of digital transformation.

Two-thirds (66%) of respondents indicate that they experience challenges when it comes to reviewing and approving documents.

While the digital workplace of the future is one that provides for anywhere access to documents from any device, 20% of workers still don’t have access to documents and information needed to review and approve on a mobile device.

With only 18% of respondents stating that they don’t tout any major issues in document approval processes, organizations are clearly experiencing a range of challenges when it comes to reviewing and approving documents including areas such as efficiencies, notifications, and access. Realistically these are challenges that should not be too difficult to overcome but can all-too-easily have negative financial and productivity implications.

Ability to Approve Documents on a Mobile Device

Research shows that over 40% of the global workforce will be mobile by 2020, and in advanced economies like the EU and the US, that number will soar to 75%.2 With that paradigm shift comes the necessity to enable mobile workers to complete critical tasks — like reviewing and approving documents. Although sufficient technology exists to make that a reality for most, progress seems a bit slow in mobile signature enablement.

Only 26% of those respondents who need access to corporate documents using a mobile device report being able to sign documents using such a device.

The survey provided a follow-up question to the challenges experienced when it comes to reviewing and approving documents. When asked to identify the action workers were missing that would be the most likely to benefit them, the ability to sign documents from a mobile device was cited most at 39%.

Use of Personal Devices and File-Sharing Apps

As many IT departments struggle to keep up with yearly technology changes, company employees increasingly want to use their own devices to access and share corporate data. It’s part of a growing trend dubbed Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). This trend is often paired with file-sharing apps — like Dropbox, Box or Google Drive — to enable workers to pass files and documents between one another.

But the advent of BYOD and file-sharing apps has brought with it a new set of concerns — not the least of which are lack of monitoring and security and loss of full data control.

The survey asked respondents: Do you use your own personal device and/or file-sharing apps to access and share company information?

Over six in ten (61%) respondents report that they use personal file-sharing apps and/or their personal device to access and share company information.

It all alludes to mounting concern with shadow IT, where information technology is managed outside of (and without the knowledge of) the company’s IT department. An Avanade survey reports that “one-third of tech purchases in a company are made by people who don’t report to the CIO. Employees bringing in consumer grade products opens a host of problems for a company. In fact, 96% of Americans surveyed see employee negligence, such as user low security products or infected removable storage media, as a contributor to data breaches.

Organizations should be keeping a keen eye on employee use of personal devices and file-sharing programs and regulating it where necessary to limit any unnecessary security concerns and breaches. Taking it one step further, many employees are using their own mobile devices and turning to these apps because their company doesn’t offer a suitable alternative. With robust document management systems that provide mobile information management capabilities, organizations could potentially mitigate these risks entirely.

Company-sanctioned Use Of Personal Devices And Filesharing Apps

In the context of shadow IT, the use of personal devices and file-sharing apps to access and share company information is a practice that is, in recent years, been scrutinized by organizations.

Companies are realizing that BYOD and filesharing open the organization to IT-centric challenges like a lack of change management and data security. Of respondents who use their own personal devices and/or personal file sharing apps to access and share company information, large proportions report that employees are officially permitted to do so (personal devices – 83%; personal file share apps – 81%). However, the use of personal devices and file-sharing apps is discouraged in 38% and 33% of respondents’ organizations respectively.

5% of respondents admit to not knowing if they are officially permitted to use their personal devices to access and share company information and 5% admit the same for personal file sharing apps. Given the strict data protection rules which are currently being enforced around the world, organizations could be exposing themselves to unnecessary risk and a host of document management issues.

Conclusion

Clearly the research supports the notion that workers across the globe still have nagging issues when it comes to the most basic document management functions — issues that will worsen as time goes on and the store of information gets larger. Businesses face a multitude of pressures — some of which can be mitigated by a simple information management strategy. A few of these challenges that could be assuaged include the weight of:

  • Keeping up with the demands of an everchanging workforce, one that includes millennials and digital natives that carry expectations of a flexible/mobile work environment.
  • Gaining a competitive advantage through the ability to attract and retain the best young talent.
  • Optimizing productivity, especially by freeing up key personnel to work on mission-critical or strategic tasks rather than spending an inordinate amount of time searching for the correct information.
  • Ensuring compliance and auditability in an environment of mounting regulations like GDPR.
  • Safeguarding quality standards with a traceable and auditable document trail that can be called upon in minutes rather than days.

Unless information management issues are addressed in an intentional and meaningful way, companies will continue to suffer from less-than optimal productivity.

The Solution to the Problem

The good news is that there is a solution for organizations seeking to modernize the way they manage documents. All the challenges faced by the employees surveyed in this research and those billions of others around the world can be mitigated by an intelligent information management system. Think about the issues cited in this research:

  • Finding documents easily
  • Locating the most recent version of a document
  • Document chaos caused by scattering of information across several repositories
  • The process for reviewing, approving and signing documents
  • Enabling the mobile workforce to manage documents away from the office
  • The risks of personal device and file-sharing app use
  • Contextualization of documents Every single one of these issues has a single solution — an intelligent information management platform. Documents are the lifeblood of an organization and fast, secure access to the correct versions of documents can be the difference between success and failure.

Research from Forrester suggests that 70% of organizations have a poor content strategy — if at all. Companies cannot afford to settle for the status quo and let the problem get worse.

Document Management: Integral to Digital Transformation (and the ability to compete) Information systems are the foundation of modern IT. Thus, integral to any digital transformation initiative is the implementation of a flexible and intelligent information system.

Yet, while digital technology is opening the door to completely new ways of doing business, some organizations flounder in their ambitions and instead stand pat without improving existing ways of operating. Some $2 trillion dollars will be spent annually worldwide on digital transformation technologies, according to analysts, while as many as 70% of enterprises polled admit that they don’t have a coherent plan.

Over the past few years, document management strategies have progressed significantly, driven by other trends in the IT market and the more widespread use of intelligent information management systems. Organizations that do not embrace digital transformation will be less likely to outclass competitors and reach the pinnacles of their markets. Modernized document management is central to the digital workplace and the adjustments necessary to compete.

For more information on how we can help your organisation please email: peter@documentmanagementsoftware.com.au or visit www.documentmanagementsoftware.com.au


Peter Ellyard

Having spent over 20 years immersed in the document management software industry I have found that by offering a simple to use, highly effective electronic document management solution (knowledge management software) we increase productivity dramatically. Typically by an hour per person, per day! This is not rocket science, just a simple way to streamline your day to day information needs.