How many times have you received email on your phone and either been unable to access a document or unable to read it? Or even if you can access it and read it, the formatting on the phone is so convoluted that it’s painful to read? Or had the same thing happen with Dropbox?
Mobile Document Access (MDA) works to solve the problem, and it does, at least to some extent. Documents will never be as easy to read on a phone as on a 19″ screen. And if, like me, you wear glasses for reading, it’s even worse – either find the glasses while you’re sitting in a lobby waiting for a meeting or make the type so big that it takes days to scroll around the screen. And then there are additional issues with mobile document access such as printing and security.
MDA generally includes several components – retrieval, conversion and integration. One has to first be able to access documents on the mobile device. Then, unless the documents have been converted to a mobile-friendly format, they will need to be converted on the phone. And then, one has to be able to work with the documents – for example, minor modifications or printing. Vendors such as Cerience address the needs of enterprise users and IT managers with formatting and integration. Their RepliGo enables users to access, view, and manage documents and information — saving time and increasing productivity.
Retrieval and storage are critical factors; documents need to be stored in an accessible location for all users. These days, that means in the cloud, somewhere. While vendors of MDA solutions provide connections into software that allows cloud storage, storage providers are not sitting waiting but are now providing solutions for enterprises. And these providers are coming from the consumer side, where so much of the innovation now takes place.
At the simplest level, Google Drive is an open solution offering easy storage and access from desktop and mobile device. Apps are available for smartphones that support Google Drive.
The downside of Google Drive is that it doesn’t offer enterprise security and features, and may not be suitable beyond small businesses. Controlling documents with Google Drive in an enterprise environment takes a lot of time and awareness. One recent announcement looks to solve a lot of the issues with an open solution, the new release of Dropbox for teams that incorporates IT control.
It is in an enviable position – how many companies have released products saying they were “Dropbox for enterprise”? With new features, Dropbox gives administrators a control panel and new sharing controls that simplify management of document access. Dropbox allows IT and other managers to both control and manage access. This is just a start. Next time out, we will take a look at document formats, conversion methodology, and integration with other apps on both the desktop back in the office and on the mobile device.