By Jack Berlin
When you own a small or midsize business, you can't always splurge on every new tech development or gadget that comes along. It's simply not feasible to make every state-of-the-art technology part of your regular operations.
Let's discuss one technology that's vital to small business success: mobile document sharing tools. Businesses of every size are rapidly adopting mobile technology, and that's driving the need for consistent document viewing across all kinds of devices and screen sizes.
The ability to work on screens of all sizes is increasingly essential—and possible. Small business leaders tend to travel more than their big-business counterparts, because they often have fewer team members, and they need to fulfill multiple roles. Sound familiar? It means that you need to be able to work while traveling. And even if all of your operations are local, it's nice to have the flexibility to work from home or while commuting.
Your customers are also going mobile. People don't have to be trapped at their desks anymore, so many people either split time between desktops and mobile devices, or they use mobile devices exclusively. And that's where consistent document viewing across devices and screen sizes comes into play.
Advances in mobile document sharing can improve your operations and let employees make the best use of their time—no matter where they are.
Mobile Offers Easy Document Access
One of the main benefits of mobile document viewing is accessibility. That means commuters sitting on a train can jump-start their workdays, and people who work off-site don't always have to wait until they're back in the office to move forward with a project.
Let's look at how this can play out in the real world. Without the ability to share and view documents on a mobile device, an insurance adjuster assessing damage takes pictures in the field, uploads those photos to a server later on, fills in a form from a computer at the office, and prints it out. He meets the customer in person to get a signature.
But with mobile sharing, he can upload pictures on the spot, view the document on a mobile device, add comments while his thoughts are fresh, and have the customer sign the document on a touch screen.
When the adjuster does return to the office, he can view those documents on his desktop, and everything will look the same as it did on his mobile device. The transition will be intuitive, and he won't have to process the same information displayed a different way.
Mobile document sharing also makes collaboration easier and faster. In an independent project management study, Software Advice surveyed employees about collaboration habits and perceptions. It found that the top three considerations for effective document collaboration are: finding files easily, real-time editing, and tracking changes. Good mobile viewing software makes all of this easier by providing tools to edit and share documents in real time.
Make Things Easy for IT
Your IT team—whether in-house or outsourced—probably knows the most about mobile developments, but there's plenty you can do to make new technology transitions run smoothly for IT and other departments:
- Understand what you're dealing with. Perhaps the best software that makes mobile document sharing possible is HTML5 viewing technology. It works with any operating system or browser on any device, and it's fully customizable to fit your unique needs.
It also requires no client-side software downloads, plug-ins, or ActiveX controls. This makes it extremely versatile for sharing documents with partners, suppliers, or customers (i.e., parties whose IT infrastructure you don't control).
- Learn from competitors. Carefully research the deployment process and the available support among competing vendors. Find a company that offers both suitable technology and the tools your IT team will need for long-term maintenance.
- Assess costs. Cost can vary widely based on the type of deployment. Come to the table with an understanding of how many seats you need and how you want the viewer integrated.
- Prioritize features. Simply saying you need employees to collaborate is not enough. Detail how employees can collaborate from different devices using different document types while in different locations to help define better solutions.
- Choose a customizable solution. If employees and customers alike will need to view and edit documents, search for a product that you can customize; one that lets you brand the viewer and retain functional control (security) over exposed documents.
Keeping up with the latest technological changes can be daunting, but the mobile revolution is great for small businesses. You might not have the staff and resources of a major enterprise, but upgrading to mobile document viewing can help you maximize the efficiency and reach of your staff.
Jack Berlin is the founder and president of Accusoft, a document, content and imaging solutions provider.
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