Author: Maura Ambrosino

Increase Data Accuracy, Workforce Efficiency & Improve Reporting with NextGen Designer Smart Forms

At Mi-Corporation we often hear about the many headaches organizations face when they’re still using paper forms, or first generation electronic tools, for their mission critical inspection processes. Those headaches include missing forms, incomplete forms, illegible forms, and a whole laundry list of repercussions that inefficient data collection methods bring to the forefront. However, the greatest data collection challenge (and often the expensive one) that organizations encounter is the need to prove compliance in order to avoid fines or litigation.

Anything less than stellar data capture and management leads to a high cost of compliance. 

Another challenge with paper forms is the endless hours inspectors must spend compiling all the different data that’s been collected manually enter it into a backend system. This impacts management as well, since they have to wait for inspection data to make its way into backend systems before any billing or reporting can happen.

Finally, we hear a lot about the paper-based inspection taking longer than necessary, resulting in overall inefficiency among the mobile workforce. Organizations that provide these inspections and other services to customers are especially concerned that their competitors who have already embraced mobile data capture are able to provide better, faster, more professional services than they are.

These organizations want to go mobile but may have a few concerns:

  • Can I create custom forms that will meet all my needs?
  • Will creating these forms be too difficult or take too long?
  • Will my workforce use the forms?

Mi-Corporation’s NextGen Designer alleviates all these concerns and puts the power of rapid application development in your hands.

The NextGen Designer was created with the citizen developer in mind—it allows not only your IT resources to develop custom forms, but business users as well! The NextGen Designer utilizes drop down menus, drag & drop capabilities, and point and click technology so that you can quickly and easily create robust apps with zero programming experience.

Now it’s easy to create mobile apps that contain required fields, business logic, and validation rules so that all data is complete, correct and consistent. Data Accuracy has never been easier!

Collaborate with your mobile workforce to quickly churn out custom apps that are user friendly and simple to navigate. Easily integrate with backend systems to provide data look ups and prefills, ensuring data accuracy and creating inspection efficiencies. And enable your workforce to capture all required data types (photos, signatures, GPS, etc.) with one tool—no more hours spent compiling captured data into one report!

The NextGen Designer also makes connecting with backend systems seamless, so you can immediately access all your integrated data—no more waiting days or even weeks for reporting, no concerns that the data you’re reporting on is old or inaccurate, and no more wasted resources on redundant data entry. Easily create data export files to be stored safely and easily accessible—without worrying about missing reports during audits.

Mi-Corporation’s web-based NextGen Designer makes it easier than ever to create powerful forms that empower your workforce to be the best it can be! Contact Us to find out more!

Quickly Create User Friendly Smart Forms

Organizations today are clamoring for digital transformation. In Mi-Corporation’s experience transforming operational processes, specifically mobile data collection processes, can provide benefits ranging from improved employee productivity and increased cost savings to faster intelligent data access and improved customer service.

It is therefore imperative that mobile data capture apps be placed in the hands of your workforce ASAP.  However, it’s not as easy as snapping your fingers. According to Kinvey, it takes an average of 18 weeks to develop an iOS or Android application. What’s more, Gartner predicts the market demand for mobile app development services will grow at least five times faster than internal IT organizations' capacity to deliver them by the end of 2017. The best way to tackle these challenges is taking matters into your own hands. But how?

With Mi-Corporation’s NextGen Designer - you can quickly and easily design your own mobile data capture forms in hours rather than months.

Who can design these forms? You can!

You heard that right. The NextGen Designer is for everyone—and that means you. Now you and your designated team members can create the exact set of data capture services you need while freeing up your technical IT staff (as needed) to focus on more complex technology initiatives.

How do we do it?

It starts with our three panel design, section management, and preview & test features:

  • Intuitive Three panel design
    • Drag fields from a palette at left on to canvas in middle and set properties at right
    • Field palette shows all available field types
    • Design surface shows what the app will look like on a device
    • Properties allow customization of field behavior
      • Multi vs. single line edits, Checkbox options, Picklist options, Required field
    • Section management – for best use of screen real estate and navigation
      • Create, rename, delete app sections
      • Drag fields from one section to another
    • Real time preview -
      • Preview the app’s appearance and test behavior within the browser
      • Make changes and see the results instantly
      • Phone, tablet, and desktop views

Drop down menus, drag & drop, and point and click technology are further utilized to ease adding features such as:

  • Rich data fields such as signature capture, GPS coordinates, photos and more
  • Required fields and validation rules
  • Seamless integration with backend systems
  • Frictionless data replication for online/offline operation
  • Export creation

Mi-Corporation’s web-based NextGen Designer makes it easier than ever to tap into all the benefits of automation so you can achieve operational excellence.

 

Save Time & Money with the NextGen Designer for Mobile Solutions

Mi-Corporation has a long history of helping organizations improve operational efficiency and accuracy  via mobile data capture solutions.

The NextGen Designer, part of Mi-Corporation’s Mobile Impact Platform, allows your organization to create those solutions faster than ever. Even better, this tool has been developed with the citizen developer in mind. That means your workforce doesn’t have to wait for their mission critical data capture apps to be developed by an over-burdened IT department. Yes, the power of rapid app development can now be placed directly into the hands of business users! The NextGen Designer also gives more control to your IT team, enabling them to develop apps faster as well. Plus, they  now have the flexibility to let the business tackle some apps while they tackle those requiring special skills.

The NextGen Designer is convenient as well! Since the tool is web based, designers enjoy the following benefits:

  • Use any modern desktop / laptop browser to design apps, anywhere, anytime
  • No software installation on device
  • Start a form on one device and continue it on another without having to move files

Not only can you design from any device, but you can design once and deploy to any device!

It’s no secret that organizations worldwide are increasingly implementing a BYOD policy. The benefits of a BYOD policy are no secret either:

  • Save moneyby eliminating the need to buy each employee specific devices and equipment
  • Increase happiness and satisfaction of your employees
  • Boost productivity by allowing employees to use devices that are familiar and comfortable to them
  • Have up-to-date technology (employees can use the most current devices)

When designing at the speed of business, there simply isn’t time to design for multiple devices. Your mobile workforce needs inspection and other data capture apps that help them perform their mission critical tasks in the most efficient and accurate manner possible, and they need them now.

Contact us to earn how the NextGen Designer allows application developers to save time and money while creating applications that do the same!

Is an Off-the-Shelf Mobile Data Solution Right for you?

Replacing “clipboard technology” with mobile technology enables organizations to do more with less. Less resources. Less staff. Less time.

Enterprise mobility is inevitable and unavoidable, and by the way; it’s good for business. Any organization employing a mobile workforce—and lacking a mobile data strategy—is falling behind the curve. So what are the business risks of not going mobile? Well, for starters:

  • Reduced employee and customer satisfaction
  • Loss of productivity
  • Fragmented mobile projects emerging in various departments
  • Inability to adapt to future technology requirements
  • Greater implementation costs down the road

But making the move to mobile can be overwhelming and fraught with perceived dangers. Enter the age-old proverbial question “should we build it or buy it?”

Oftentimes organizations consider building the solution, rather than purchasing a Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) product, in order to alleviate common concerns such as:

  • COTS vendors will not understand my process
  • I will have no control over the future of a COTS product
  • COTS vendors will not be flexible enough to adopt to my processes
  • Off-the-shelf software may not be compatible with other systems or desired devices
  • COTS vendors may not keep up with changing technology

These concerns are valid and will be addressed shortly, but first let’s look at some issues of building a solution from scratch.

  • Your solution will be version 1, versus a COTS product that’s been used and tested in many different organizations with many different scenarios tested.
  • Your development resources will need a wide variety of skills to build a solution from scratch such as:
    • Security
    • Integration
    • Business logic
    • Synchronization
    • Workflow management
  • Employee turnover may result in delays and inability to maintain software properly.
  • Your organization and/or IT department is not a software company. Taking on a project like this inhibits the ability to focus internal resources on core competencies and goals.

Additionally, it’s somewhat universally accepted that in a build vs. buy cost analysis, off-the-shelf solutions often work out cheaper. They’re usually much quicker to implement, and maintenance and feature upgrades often come standard.

Considering all these factors, it often becomes a logical choice for organizations to (re)consider an off the shelf (COTS) product rather than a DIY solution. Through this process, many organizations make the decision to buy a COTS platform, one that provides the tools for allowing the customer (or vendor professional services) to build the perfect solution for them. These tools come with built-in functionality like security, integration, workflow, etc., and allow organizations to focus on building applications that are user friendly, easy to navigate, and meet the needs of users.

Mi-Corporation’s Mobile Impact Platform (Mi-Platform) is one such platform that enables organizations to create a solution that has a wide variety of key features and functionality baked in but is also flexible to adapt to the needs of different types of users and operational requirements.

Prior to working with a COTS platform vendor, be sure to determine:

  • Will you be provided with the tools and training to build your solution or does the vendor build it for you? Or can it be a combination of the two?
  • Can the platform provider provide references and share objective metrics/customer satisfaction scores demonstrating their responsiveness and effectiveness in furthering clients’ mission-critical processes?
  • Can the platform provider demonstrate flexible product iterations that support cross-platform and cross-device requirements, multiple integration points and a variety of data types (voice recognition, photos, barcodes, RFID, handwriting recognition etc.)?
  • Will the vendor share their product roadmap for future software evolution?
  • How much weight does customer input have when adding new features to the product?

Enterprise mobility is an investment in time, money, and other resources—but it’s also an important investment in your organization’s future. Be sure to weigh your options carefully and choose a partner that will support your mission-critical processes today and can grow with you as your business evolves.

Enterprise Mobility Exchange – Post Event Report

Enterprise Mobility Exchange just hosted its East Coast edition of the 2017 Transformation Exchange which took place in Braselton, Georgia. I’ve just downloaded the post-event report which is available on their website . Among the findings:

Enterprise mobility is rapidly evolving causing the industry to face more diverse challenges than ever before. Think IoT. According to a survey completed by the event attendees 54 % will be investing in IoT software over the coming months and 48% will be investing in IoT hardware.

Security is of course a major topic for concern. How can security be maximized without inhibiting functionality, collaboration and innovation? 73% of event attendees will be investing in application security.

Of most interest to me, at this particular point in time, was the apparent debate over the methodology for developing and deploying mobile apps. Not up for debate – business users want their mobile apps and they want them now!

The traditional approach to mobile app development is not working any longer. The process of design, development, integration, QA, deployment, user testing, change management and finally user adoption could take months and easily run over budget. And that’s only for one application!  Mobile app development must scale to the needs of the enterprise.

Mi-Corporation is in complete agreement with the business users, we too want them to get their apps, and get them now. Why should they, or anyone in an organization, have to wait to become more efficient, or better utilize their valuable time, or gain access to captured data for analysis or reporting? (A mere sampling of the benefits associated with a mobile data capture solution).   Over the coming weeks we will be sharing some exciting news regarding this topic – stay tuned to learn about our new solution for empowering citizen developers, business users and the mobile workforce alike!

Finding Operational Excellence Through ‘Digital Transformation’

Everyone’s buzzing about ‘digital transformation’—and they’re right to be on their toes. Our customers talk about this all the time, particularly during meetings to discuss what Mi-Corporation’s tools and software can do for them.  Not everyone describes digital transformation in exactly the same way, although you’ll note some common themes.

According to Altimeter Group digital transformation is the “realignment of, or new investment in, technology and business models to more effectively engage digital customers at every touchpoint in the customer experience lifecycle.” 

 Microsoft defines digital transformation as “reimagining how you bring together people, data, and processes to create value for your customers and maintain a competitive advantage in a digital-first world.”

Microsoft defines four parts to digital transformation—customer engagement, employee empowerment, operational optimization and product transformation. A study conducted by MIT Center for Digital Business and Capgemini Consulting also talks about transforming customer experience, and operational processes, as well as transforming business models and digital capabilities.

The Capgemini study says that typically, transformed customer experiences are the most visible—and typically the most exciting—aspects of transformation, but that firms are also realizing very strong benefits from transforming internal processes. In Mi-Corporation’s experience transforming operational processes, specifically mobile data collection processes, can provide benefits ranging from improved employee productivity and increased cost savings to faster intelligent data access and improved customer service. Below are just a few examples of what some of our innovative customers are doing.

  • The Mississippi State Department of Health digitized their restaurant inspection processes which helped to reduce costs by closing physical offices and enabled workers to work from home and in the field using mobile devices. Additionally, data captured by the states restaurant inspectors is made available to the public immediately. This is something the state’s constituents appreciate as they make their restaurant reservations.
  • Transport for London (TfL) uses mobile data collection for a variety of purposes, including inspections, fault reporting and incident management. The fault reporting data collection app alone has saved TfL over 20,000 man hours per year. Improvements in the fault reporting procedures has also resulted in an overall reduction of incidents since the app has been deployed. These saved hours allow TfL employees to act as mobile customer service ambassadors, coming to the rescue of lost or confused passengers and delivering a more hands-on service experience.
  • North Carolina Department of Agriculture uses digital forms for pesticide inspections. Since implementing a mobile data capture solution they have seen remarkable improvements in data accuracy, data consistency and data capture time. Overall form-processing time has decreased from 4 weeks to 1-2 days, invoice cycles are improved and both customer and employee satisfaction has increased.

How does your organization define digital transformation? If your digital future is tied heavily to data collection efficiencies, we can help! Contact us anytime for a quick call to learn more.

Digital Transformation: Making Restaurant Violations Data Available to the Public

I’ve been working at Mi-Corporation for 5 years and have heard many stories about how our mobile data capture solutions (our Mobile Impact Platform) have helped organizations make a difference in their customers’ and constituents’ lives.  For example, I’ve heard about the USDA using our solutions to help ensure the public is safe from consuming contaminated beef and I’ve heard how the US DOT uses our platform to aide their employees when investigating motor vehicle crashes (and keeping our roads safe). I’ve heard how Transport for London uses our solution to help ensure their riders enjoy safe, clean travel.  I have no firsthand experience, nor have I seen, the real-life benefits that a customer or constituent can receive when using our Mobile Impact Platform.

Imagine my surprise earlier this month when I received an email containing a Public Health Report from the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH). The email, in addition to containing advice for pregnant women and vaccination information, also contained a “Regulatory Report” with the results of Food Facility Inspections. With a quick scroll down the page, I was able to see a list of restaurants that had “critical violations” and therefore received a grade of “C.”

 

I was able to click on the restaurant and actually see the data that an MSDH inspector had captured using Mi-Corporation’s mobile data solution.

 

I’m very impressed by MSDH’s commitment to keeping their constituents healthy and informed, and am excited that we play a part in their commendable efforts. I don’t know about you, but if I lived in a state that had the results of food facility inspections so transparent and readily available to the public, my choice of eating destinations would be greatly influenced!

“Kids?! Do you want to eat at the restaurant with or without rodents in the kitchen?”