Trapped behind the bars of your mobile networks
Look around you. How many devices do you see that require a wireless Internet connection? Laptops, speakers, cameras and the most connected of them all — your precious smartphone.
In a perfect world, all of these things would connect to the Internet reliably and fast, wherever you are. But what about when there’s no Internet connection available? Does it feel like you are trapped behind the bars of your wireless signal?
Turns out, I’m a perfect example of this. I live in Westlake, one of the most popular Cleveland, OH suburbs. My neighborhood – the stores, restaurants and homes along one of the busiest major roads in my city – is a dead zone for most of the popular mobile carriers. This is something I feel should be in the home disclosures when people are looking at the houses in this area. It makes it almost impossible to make calls, surf the web or connect to your 4G at all.
Now that we rely so extensively on our mobile network, what happens when we lose that connection – especially when we need it to get important work done?
The need for freedom
Wireless technology has had a tremendous impact on our work and personal lives over the past few decades. We’ve come to expect a more flexible work life — working from home, in the field and while traveling. And we’ve all experienced poor Internet connections, even in locations you would not expect.
With smartphones and tablets now part of the standard-issue office gear, an ever-growing number of people expect to work wherever and whenever they want. But many enterprise applications, including enterprise content management (ECM) systems, manage critical business information while still not offering the ability to work offline.
While many processes cannot and should not be delayed, they are slowed because of poor wireless connections. When a car accident occurs, a claims adjuster should be able to capture all needed information – like photos of the accident – while on the scene. The process should be seamless, regardless of location. There shouldn’t be room for error because the adjuster had to wait to get back into the office to fill out their report. It should happen in the field, at the scene of the accident.
To meet the needs of these workers, platforms should provide access to information and seamless workflow functionality at all times, including when Internet connections are unavailable.
For example, case workers are often required to make quick decisions while away from the office. With mobile access, these workers can review critical documents and immediately make decisions on pending matters, accelerating processes. Similarly, claims adjusters can upload images of damaged vehicles or property losses to facilitate payment authorization on claims.
Lacking a wireless or cellular connection, work is delayed and mistakes can happen.
Working the system
But employees haven’t allowed this lack of access to stop them. They’ve devised workarounds to access the data or information they need in case Internet connectivity isn’t a given or bandwidth is low.
Workers traveling to areas with spotty or nonexistent Internet connections or broadband take a variety of steps to ensure they’re prepared. The most common way is by printing hard copies of required documents – which we all know isn’t the most productive or safest way to access information.
In fact, 62 percent of respondents said they work around not having offline access to information by emailing themselves critical files, according to a recent survey from the International Data Corporation. Nearly half (47 percent) said they store a file or document locally on a device, and 44 percent load a USB stick or some other type of external drive to save and transport critical material to and from the office.
The survey also noted that nearly half of the respondents (48 percent) admit to copying and pasting whole files or documents into corporate systems, 39 percent download data from external drives and 36 percent retype recorded data into the primary business systems.
Regardless of the approach, these efforts are labor-intensive and time-consuming, taking an average of 45 minutes — time that could be better spent on higher-value business activities. And we’re not going to go into the security nightmares that any single one of these workarounds opens up for a business.
Benefits of the bars
It’s not just the field workers or sales reps who benefit from offline access to critical business documents, files and data; 61 percent of executive managers, including C-level and senior management, see value in accessing critical business data while offline via their mobile devices.
With offline capabilities, users jump-start processes that depend on offsite data collection, eliminating delays and risks that result from duplicate data entry or missed paperwork. Earlier adopters have figured it out: you can’t rely on Internet access to get work done.
The way we live and work has changed tremendously since most of us entered the workforce. In order to keep up with the demands of today’s work environments, organizations need to develop ways for their products to be used offline – helping workers to break free from those signal bars and work wherever and whenever they need.
With the right mobile content management solution, you keep employees connected, processes moving and customers happy. It’s a win for everyone involved.