5 myths about mobile content management

Mobile content may not be what you think
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This week at the Gartner Portals, Content and Collaboration Summit, I attended a session called "The Myths and Realities of Mobile Content Management" in which Gartner analyst Karen Shegda discussed the role of content management on mobile devices. She began by defining five myths about mobile content management.

Before delving into the myths, Shegda gave some context to her mobile argument. Lest you think the whole mobile thing is being overblown, she had numbers. First of all, she talked about Gartner's "strategic planning assumption" around content usage on mobile devices. This is a kind of thesis statement in Gartner parlance and they are predicting that by 2015, 60 percent of workers will interact with content applications on a mobile device.

That's because there's lots of them. In fact, Gartner predicts there will be 197 million tablets shipped worldwide in 2013 alone. Add to that a billion smartphones and you have a huge mobile audience, made up of many people who are bound to want to work with their content on those mobile devices.

To that end, Shegda framed the talk by discussing five misconceptions or myths about mobile content management.

1. The name "mobile content management" itself is a misnomer

As Shegda explained, we don't talk about desktop content management or laptop content management, so why do we consider it a separate entity to talk about using content on mobile devices. The fact is, as she explained, it's about taking the content on the road and making use of it. It's not really a separate category at all.

2. Mobile is the new paper

Shegda rightly pointed out what we have been hearing about the notion of the paperless office for decades, but we aren't anywhere close to achieving that, and she postulated that there are instances where having a paper copy makes sense, but she sees mobile devices, and especially tablets, as a bridge between the physical and digital worlds. She used the example of a QR code on her Amtrak ticket. The conductor scanned it and knew that she had purchased it online, and it was her ticket. 

3. Mobile is only about content sharing and consumption

This is a particularly persistent myth and one that's hard to shake because smartphones and especially tablets are such good consumption devices, but as Shegda pointed out, they can do more than that and we are starting to see more short document creation, editing and commenting, group editing, and video and photo creation and editing. Voice recognition could help advance this, but we also need to be thinking about alternative ways of inputting beyond typing.

4. Only about retooling existing applications

This is true of any new form factor. It's not about simply taking your existing applications and making them display on a smaller screen. You need to redesign your applications to take advantage of the device and create new ways of working.

5. Not for critical processes

The fact is that a lot of activity is leveraging mobile as an on-ramp for critical processes. As you connect to enterprise repositories, you can access and share files, but you can also begin to do the work of managing those files, such as adding metadata or moving the file through a workflow. All of these things could be part of your critical business processes. Certainly, we've seen instances where insurance adjusters take pictures of a disaster site and move a claim much more quickly from the field to underwriters, where it can be adjudicated. It's also supporting sales, customer onboarding, fraud detection and case management, among others.

Shegda says it's important to think of mobile as an integral part of your overall strategy, not something separate and certainly not as an afterthought. The numbers are clear and mobile is coming whether you're ready or not. And that's no myth.

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