Documentum and Alfresco – Mobile Access to Effective Content

One of our clients has recently implemented HPI for mobile access of approved documents.  This post will present the business case as well as a quick look at the client’s particular implementation. 

Client Application

As mentioned many times on this site, providing consumers with quick and simple access to approved documents is often 70% of users for manufacturing clients.  Our client wanted an iPad accessible application that could be used on the shop floor for different approved procedures.   Some significant points included:

  • Search – ability for a simple search based on the document number
  • Saved Search – ability for floor workers to save a search that brings back documents routinely used by the iPad in that area of the factory.

Mobile Access, Wireless and the Firewall

For a mobile device, there is no “wired” access.  One of the first major hurdles was in regards to wireless access.  Clients are typically very wary of allowing wireless access behind the firewall as potential hackers could be lurking in the parking lot.  We have approached this issue in a couple of different ways.

  • Put ECM in the Cloud or DMZ – Rather than try to get wireless access behind the firewall, why not put ECM in the Cloud or outside the firewall to let consumers access the information from any internet connected device.
  • Secure wireless access behind the Firewall – For this approach, wireless access is allowed but only by certain devices with other security.

Our client opted for the secure wireless access behind the Firewall.

Native Application versus HTML5

We pointed out in a post back in 2012 that clients have a decision in regards to a native application (ex: iPad Application) versus building a browser based solution.  Downsides to the native application included:

  • Difficulty in supporting all the different types of devices consistently – Our clients have a variety of devices (ex: iOS, Android, Windows Mobile, and Blackberry OS) and we were concerned about having to dedicate developers to each platform to deploy a consistent application.
  • Difficulty in updating/releasing – All mobile native applications are subject to the individual systems approval and release.  (iTunes, Android Market, etc).  As a native application, the vendor wants to make sure that the application will not affect other components of the device.  This can present an issue with timing of releases (pending approval) as well as requiring the user to upgrade the release.

For our client, it just made sense to do a quick web-based application for their environment Application Walkthrough Logs on (no signin).  This approach provided for quick deployment as well as the ability to put “real-time” watermarks (what date was it accessed) on all downloaded content.

Application Review

Some quick screen shots of the application

Search

Search

Retrieve

List

Document View

View

Saved Search

Saved Search

Futures

As the application has been successful, we are looking at additional functionality.  Some innovative use of the mobile device includes the ability to track where it is located (GPS) as well as how it is orientated (which way is it facing).  This combination of data could present some interesting options in regards to “Show me all the procedures related to the piece of equipment I am looking at”.

Summary

As companies move to provide more access by providing mobile devices or allowing users to access corporate systems via their own devices (Bring Your Own Device – BYOD), IT will have to provide solutions like mobile access quickly.  For this sample client, the ability to quickly roll-out and deploy HTML5 based solution provides the quick retrieval made more sense than developing a specific native mobile application.

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