Frankie-the-frustrated worker dealing with lack of direct Line of Business integration and Manual Data Entry

For this particular blog post I would like to use a light-hearted approach to a major problem.  The problem is lost productivity and user frustration around populating data into Line of Business applications via Manual Data Entry versus Automation.

To illustrate my point let’s take one of the most popular Software as a Service (SaaS) applications ever, Salesforce.com.  And while the application is absolutely simple to use and easy to manage, what lacks is the ability to take information from paper and/or an image and put it directly into Salesforce.com database fields.
1.  Let’s take a moment to go through the steps to import data into Salesforce.com and follow the steps Frankie-the-frustrated worker must take to get this task done.
2.  Commentary of Frankie-the-frustrated worker:
“Frustrating!  Step 1 of 7????”
3.  Commentary of Frankie-the-frustrated worker:
“MORE FRUSTRATING!!!  WASTING TIME!!!”
4.  Commentary of Frankie-the-frustrated worker:
“MORE THAN EVER FRUSTRATED!!!!!!!!!  
WASTING TIME, MONEY, AND ENERGY!!!!!!!!!!!” 
5.  Commentary of Frankie-the-frustrated worker:
 “FORGET IT!!!!!!!!!!!! 
 THIS WILL NEVER END!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 
 WHY IS IT LIKE THIS????? 
 ISN’T THERE AN EASIER WAY????????????????” 

Education and modern technology reduce Frankie’s frustration

Are we still living in the stone age when it comes to data entry into computer systems?  Isn’t there a more efficient method to automatically populate data in your software application instead of costly manual data entry?  It’s 2012 after all, not 1912.  Why do we accept such primitive methods of data entry?
Answer:  Because we need to educate the market on the capabilities of capture technologies.  We also need to strive to make integration and usage as easy as possible.  If you build it, they will come.
Eliminating Frankie’s frustration with Ubiquitous Information Capture
Realizing the dream of Ubiquitous Information Capture directly into applications is much easier than you might think but we must educate the market on current capabilities.  The idea is simple, yet highly effective.  Embed the ability to take photos with a smart phone and/or capture paper documents from a scanning device directly into your software application.  Note that all I’ve done in the screen prints below is add a small icon of a camera and scanner directly into my CloudConnectMashup software application.
Now, I can offer my users a truly great user experience because contributing information is nearly effortless and removes pain associated with manual data entry.  This translates directly into reduced operational costs, improved efficiencies and an overall better work environment.
Think about all the lost opportunities to drastically reduce labor costs, most likely in the billions if not trillions of dollars, associated with manual data entry in just the use cases below:
  • Transportation applications with Bills of Lading, Proof of Deliveries, Trip Sheet or Scale Tickets
  • Field Service applications with Proof of Work delivered, Vehicle Identification Number, Work Orders or Assessment documentation
  • Contracts Management applications with Amendments, Terms and Conditions or License Agreements
  • Invoice Management applications with Invoices, corresponding Packing Lists or Proof of Performance
  • Sales/Contact Relationship Management applications with Business Cards, Agreements or Correspondences
Do you know a Frankie in your organization?  Do you have a story, good or bad, to tell?  We’d love to hear your feedback.

Process is most important

I’ll never forget a simple, yet powerful, comment I heard many years ago that really struck a nerve with me.

I was attending a small local trade show event in Denver.  I was talking about document scanning and storing images at our companies booth to attendees that would stop by for a chat.  One of our technology partners was in the booth next to me and heard my elevator pitch several times.  What I didn’t know, or realize, at the time was that my message was ineffective and boring.  Let me explain.

See….scanning an image and storing it has some, but limited value unless the purpose is just to archive the images for occasional retrieval at a later date.  What this technology partner did was something subtle and amazing (to me at least).  He took my elevator pitch and slightly modified it and, viola!, instantly the simple process I had been describing to the attendees of this trade show became something of genuine interest to them.  What this technology person said was this:

“Instead of scanning to a destination, you can scan to a process.”

Simple, but a powerful statement and instantly scanning documents now took on a whole new meaning and was a sincere business value proposition.

So, on a related note I just read an article in Forbes that was entitled “Forecasting Public Cloud Adoption in the Enterprise”.  In this article the author cited a recent forecast from Gartner on the market size for “Cloud Business Process Services/Business Process as a Service (BPaaS)”.  The most interesting forecast statistic to me personally was the following:

Cloud Business Process Services/Business Process as a Service (BPaaS)

  • Gartner is predicting that BPaaS will grow from $84.1B in 2012 to $144.7B in 2016, generating a global compound annual growth rate of 15%.

$84.1B is 2012 and $144.7B in 2016 surely validates that Business Process is most important and simple storage is basic and lame!  You can read the entire article at the link below:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/louiscolumbus/2012/07/02/forecasting-public-cloud-adoption-in-the-enterprise-2/

Thanks Chris for the terrific insight!

Development Platform

Boy was that easy, simple and effective!

What is you you ask?  You are reading it right now.  Creating this web site with a highly-effective blog from WordPress , then adding a Content Management system from Joomla , then adding a testing/education application from moodle , and then adding a social portal from elgg  took me maybe a grand total of one hour time.  This is not to brag but rather to demonstrate the fact how far we have come regarding the great progress of offering simple, yet highly-effective point-and-click tools to make powerful applications.

This web site is an example of just this.  It cost me a grand total of the domain fee of ~$10/year plus one year of hosting at ~$60/year.  ~$70 total!  All the software is open source and free to use for non commercial usage.  A great deal, in my opinion.

Anyhow, I remember all that not long ago how I would have had to manually install databases and configure connectors and mashup applications.  It was doable but time-consuming and frustrating.  This ease of use allowed me to jump right into settings up this web site exactly how I want it to be from a functionality standpoint instead of dealing with all the technical details of getting everything working correctly.

I think this type of dynamic is what is going to be changing in the Information Technology world.  Traditional IT folks will need to become more agile on enhancing business processes or become more focused on creating useful tools instead of the details of software installation, patching updates and/or upgrades.  In other words, I can have my applications hosted in ‘the cloud’ where a service provider does all the low-level technical things that still need to be done, but I can channel my energy to more productive activities.

The idea of a Development Platform being so easy to use, yet powerful enough to be deployed for enterprise applications is here to stay.  It’s a way to easily jump start your path to efficiency!

What do you think?