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  • Writer's pictureJack Arnston

How Smartphones are Changing Document Management: Part 1

It has become impossible to imagine our lives without the use of our smartphones. Everything thing we do today seems to interact with that device. Work, home, and play, it seems that we cannot function without the use of our phone. It is my belief, that the document management community has been a little slow to adapt to the technology. Sure, most Enterprise Content Management solutions have an app or browser that works on your mobile device. But how much are they used and how practical are they? My next two blogs will look at the use of smartphones in the ECM industry today.

Let’s begin with document capture. As technology evolves and adaption improves, we are beginning to see more documents begin their life in a digital form. An example of this is vendor invoices. Just two or three years ago nearly 80 percent of invoices were printed and mailed in paper form. Today, it is not uncommon for an AP Department to receive 80 to 90 percent of their vendor invoices electronically, typically as a PDF file attached to an email.

Paper still exists, and historically that meant using a document scanner to convert the paper into a practical, digital file that could be stored, shared and managed. Multi-Function Printers (MFPs) have been used with varying degrees of success to scan paper as well. But what about using your smartphone? Expense tracking apps have successfully used these devices for some time to capture receipts and process them into their software. But outside of that, we have not seen a lot of smartphones used as a serious capture device. The arguments are that the devices are relatively slow, image quality is marginal and image size can be very large. All legitimate arguments when dealing with document management.

But times are changing and new apps are available that break down many of these barriers. We have been testing an app from Genius Scan on our iPhones and Android devices to meet a very specific need for a potential client. They are a distributor with drivers making deliveries throughout the day and returning in the evening with piles of signed delivery pages needing to be filed. As a company, they are not large enough to afford an elaborate solution to manage inventory, shipping, delivery and invoicing in a seamless and economical manner. Their delivery people do, however, all carry smartphones with them.

The solution to their problem was actually quite simple and affordable. Using Genius Scan on their iPhone to take a picture of the signed and annotated delivery receipt/invoice along with supporting pages and pictures. The app does a remarkably good job of cropping and removing any keystoning of the image. Once captured, the software uploads the images to a secured folder on the Cloud where PSIGEN software ingests the file and processes it. Using Optical Character Recognition (OCR), the capture software extracts key values and migrates the images and index values to FileBound. From there the company can more efficiently manage their information. Improvements to customer service, handling audits, and storing and managing life cycles are all tangible benefits. Just as important, there are cost savings to the company. The overall result is an efficient and affective solution that began with a smartphone and an app.

I believe that the real lesson learned here is that for veterans of the Enterprise Content Management industry, we need to embrace all capture technology to solve client issues. The fastest and most feature rich scanner is not always necessary to solve peoples’ problems. Understanding their needs, their desire to keep things simple, and the use existing technology should lead to creative and practical solutions. This may include the use of smartphones to capture information and process it into a documents management solution.

Jack Arnston is a Principal at The Priton Group. He can be reached at

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