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Separating Fact from Fiction: Digital Forms vs. Mobile Business Applications

Along with the smartphone boom of the past decade we have also seen an exponential increase in the number of companies providing mobile applications.

This increase in the number of available software vendors has caused confusion in the marketplace when trying to determine what the main differences are between companies that provide simple mobile forms vs. mobile business applications.

When most companies are investigating solutions they are looking for ways to eliminate the manual process of collecting information on paper. By eliminating the collection of data on paper, the business will be able to save costs, and ultimately increase profits. As an example let us assume that you are currently looking for a mobile software vendor to help eliminate paper from your field operations. You have completed your preliminary research and think you have found 2 companies that could be a potential fit.

The 2 companies you have found offer different solutions; one provides simple mobile forms and the other provides mobile business applications

  • Company A – Provides a mobile forms tool which enables you to re-create simple paper forms on a smartphone. This tool makes it easy to collect simple text based information using your smartphone when connected to the Internet.
  • MobileFrame – Provides a Mobile Business Application tool set which enables you to create, manage, deploy and support an infinite number of mobile business applications. This tool makes it easy to collect not only text based data but also rich data types including photo’s, barcode scans, voice notes, and can operate even when disconnected from the Internet. Meaning all associated business logic, data from your back-office systems is made available at all times even when working in remote locations.

Mobile Forms vs. Mobile Business Applications – What is the difference?

Collecting information using a mobile form is still a one-time event. Information is collected, saved, and transmitted back to the host system. Once completed,  someone still needs to physically copy, calculate, or re-purpose the data for your business to receive any benefit.

In other words the means of collecting the information has simply changed formats, but the actual business process that needs to be completed (the one that is taking all of the time) is still manual.

Other common issues with this approach include the lack of the ability to collect data when disconnected from the Internet, control over the data format, scalability, device management, and peripheral support (barcode scans, photos, voice notes, rfid, etc.).

In contrast mobile business applications like the ones developed by MobileFrame, enable you to bi-directionally exchange information between multiple back office business systems (Accounting, Inventory Tracking, CRM, etc.) and the mobile workers in real time.  These thick client mobile business applications embed all of the business logic, and necessary data into the database so the mobile worker is able to do their work without having to worry about connecting to the Internet. Mobile business applications also provide peripheral support making it possible to collect rich data types, and validating the data as it is being entered into the system. The best part is that once data is received by the back-office system, automated tasks can be set up to automatically process the data once it is received in real time.

Why selecting a Mobile Business Applications is the right decision:

Using a Mobile Business Application you are not only eliminating paper you are eliminating the administrative overhead, and manual data processing of information back at the office. Information is collected digitally, validated at the point of entry, and automatically entered into the other systems immediately once data is received back on the server. This means that your business will be able to run smoother, faster, and less expensively than ever before possible.

As takeaway from this article here are the 3 differences between mobile forms, and mobile business applications that you should remember.

  1. Mobile Business Applications Provide Control
    • Do you want an open, free text entry or do you want to ensure that the information has a level of control to it?  Are phone numbers actually phone numbers or simply a combination of 10 digits?  Are your addresses formatted correctly?  There is no reason to electronically store information if it is not accurate and you lack control of what is captured.  Garbage in – garbage out.
  2. Mobile Business Applications are Integrated
    • As you are fulfilling customer orders, you can automatically update your inventory tracking system, produce a mobile invoice, send it to your accounting program and update your CRM system in real-time with no additional effort. When your systems are talking to each other it saves you the time of duplicate (or triplicate) data entry.
  3. Mobile Business Applications can run automatically
    • Possibly the most powerful benefit of this type of system is the ability to DO something automatically as information is received. Your workflow can be simplified when it is automated. When you are running low on a particular part, your mobile system can update your ERP which can send an alert to the purchasing department and let them know it’s time to order more. Other additional benefits include leveraging management dashboards, customer self-service portals, and automatic delivery of daily productivity reports.

If you are interested in learning more about our award winning mobile enterprise application platform, please contact us today!

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