Could you manage all of your records with a mobile device?

by Frank 2. September 2012 06:00

I run a software company and I design and build an enterprise strength content management system called RecFind 6 which among other things, handles all the needs of physical records management.

This is fine if I have a big corporate or government customer because the cost is appropriate to the scale of the task at hand. However it isn’t fine when we receive lots of inquiries from much smaller organizations like small law forms that need a records management solution but only have a very small budget.

A very recent inquiry from a small but successful engineering company was also a problem because they didn’t have any IT infrastructure. They had no servers and used Google email. However, they still had a physical records management problem as well as an electronic document management problem but our solution was way outside of the ballpark.

Like any businessman I don’t like to see business walk away especially after we have spent valuable consultancy time helping the customer to understand the problem and define the need.

We have had a lot of similar inquiries lately and it has started me thinking about the need for a new type of product for small business, one that doesn’t require the overhead and expense of an enterprise-grade solution. It should also be one that doesn’t require in-house servers and a high overhead and maintenance cost.

Given our recent experience building a couple of iOS (for the iPhone and iPad) and Android (for any Android phone or tablet) apps I am of the opinion that any low cost but technically clever and easy-to-use solution should be based around a mobile device like a smart phone or tablet.

The lack of an in-house server wouldn’t be a problem because we would host the solution servers at a data centre in each country we operate in. Programming it wouldn’t be a problem because that is what we do and we already have a web services API as the foundation.

The only challenge I see is the need to get really creative about the functionality and the user interface. There is no way I can implement all the advanced functionality of the full RecFind 6 product on a mobile device and there is no way I can re-use the user interface from either the RecFind 6 smart-client or web-client. Even scaled down the user interface would be unsuitable for a mobile device; it needs a complete redesign. It isn’t just a matter of adapting to different form factors (screen sizes), it is about using the mobile device in the most appropriate way. It is about designing a product that leverages off the unique capabilities of a mobile device, not trying to force fit an application designed for Windows.

The good news is that there is some amazing technology now available for mobile devices that could easily be put to use for commercial business purposes even though a lot of it was designed for light weight applications and games. Three examples of very clever new software for mobile devices are Gimbal Context Aware, Titanium Mobile SDK and Vuforia Augmented Reality. But, these three development products are just the tip of the iceberg; there is literally a plethora of clever development tools and new products both in the market and coming to market in the near future.

As a developer, right now the Android platform looks to be my target. This is mainly because of the amount of software being developed for Android and because of the open nature of Android. It allows me to do far more than Apple allows me to do on its sandboxed iOS operating system.

Android also makes it far easier for me to distribute and support my solutions. I love iOS but Apple is just a little too anal and controlling to suit my needs. For example, I require free access to the file system and Apple doesn’t allow that. Nor does it give me the freedom I need to be able to attach devices my customers will need; no standard USB port is a huge pain for application developers.

I am sorry that I don’t have a solution for my smaller customers yet but I have made the decision to do the research and build some prototypes. RecFind 6 will be the back-end residing on a hosted server (in the ‘Cloud’) because it has a superset of the functionality required for my new mobile app. It is also the perfect development environment because the RecFind 6 Web Services SDK makes it easy for me to build apps for any mobile operating system.

So, I already have the backend functionality, the industrial-strength and scalable relational database and the Web Services API plus expertise in Android development using Eclipse and Java. Now all I have to do to produce my innovative new mobile app is find the most appropriate software and development platforms and then get creative.

It is the getting creative bit that is the real challenge. Wish me luck and watch this space.


Comments (1) -

Sharda Engineering College
Sharda Engineering College India
9/12/2012 1:11:48 AM #

Nice to know this web blog .This is useful for me. Keep it up.


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