Are the terms "Mobile Forms" and "MEAP" Interchangeable?
So we’ve all heard the terms get bandied around right? MEAP, MADP, and all kinds of variations of it. I’m referring to Mobile Enterprise Application Platform and Mobile Application Development Platform. Folks like Verivo Software, Antenna Software, Sybase, Appcelerator and many others. Sometimes folks ask me how what we do at Mi-Co is different from producing software from these vendors. I think of Mobile-Forms as a subset perhaps, of MEAP/MADP, and an ever more important, increasingly focused subset.
Everything starts with a Form
Think about it – almost everything starts with a form. Applying for a job, performing an inspection, seeing a patient etc. etc. – when there are so many mobile devices, operating systems and complex ways businesses operate, the need for “flexible mobile-forms” is more than ever! It’s pretty easy to have an electronic form created that may or may not render appropriately on mobile devices. However, to be able to produce sophisticated mobile-forms that are highly optimized for the platforms on which they deploy (BYOD sometimes), requires a whole level deeper sophistication.
Getting the Most Value from Your Mobile Forms
Mobile forms offer the most value when they can communicate dynamically back to databases, when they can hide and show fields/pages as needed, when they can enforce complex business rules and guide users through the process of gathering complex, critical business data and export that back to as many systems as needed in a variety of formats. In addition, as technology is evolving, users are looking touch, write, dictate into these mobile forms software products, and add rich data such as photo/image capture, GPS coordinates, RFID tags, interact with external devices and much more.
We ran a survey back in December of about 10,000 people and found that the #1 thing businesses look for in the selection of mobile forms software is “Flexibility”. With the fast pace of change in technology and workflows of users, this protects a company from having to go buy a new set of technology a year or two from now when there is a need for voice-recognition entry into forms, rather than simple keyboarding, or multi-photo capture & annotation, or deep database calls and so on. With the increasing number of companies in this space claiming to do all of these things, the other key attribute to look for is experience & longevity.
Ask your Mobile-Forms provider, now that you understand what that is, how long they have been in the business of mobile-forms. Not generic e-forms software, or mobile ‘apps’, but how long have they been working with businesses on ‘mobile-forms’ projects. If they have been doing it longer than 10 years, you know they didn’t just jump in when the going got good, and they have some serious experience and development cycles under their belt.
Good luck and as always should you need to discuss this further, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Go forth and eliminate all those paper processes!