Winning in the mobile world means driving revenues, acquiring new customers, and accelerating transactions. Mobile capture apps need open platforms and frameworks for apps that can be optimized for multiple uses and customized for their organization’s documents, customers, user experience and requirements.

For example, I see banks that have check deposit, bill pay, or balance transfer, but cannot build from that same platform, leverage the same technology stack, or use the same infrastructure to deliver the next stage in mobile banking, which includes payments and/or balance transfers.

Consider how your mobile payments road map could be optimized if identification validation could be done by the snap of a driver’s license; it would improve the approval process for mobile credit and payment applications. Or the flexibility of your mobile capture app to read all forms of pre-payment cards such as gift cards and stored value cards. The imaging quality and data extraction capabilities will significantly impact the consumer’s payment experience.

I talk to financial institutions every week that believe they are implementing an effective mobile imaging solution when all they are doing is simply taking a photo of a piece of paper. After the initial, “it works great,” cursory comments, they quickly realize that they haven’t seen the bigger picture of the capabilities of mobile imaging for their customers or for themselves. Following are tips that every financial institution, or any organization, should know about mobile imaging and its effect on their customers’ experience.

Customers were elated with the new level of convenience that mobile imaging banking applications provided. Instead of driving to an ATM for basic services, a snap and tap was all that was needed. But the euphoria soon wore off when the large images were unreadable nor able to be processed.  Users were forced to do multiple retakes until the system finally received an image it could process. Customers understandably questioned if these mobile banking apps really worked and will it cause them more inconvenience by needing to visit the branch or get on the phone to handle inconsistencies and errors.

Customers simply expect the solution to work and do not really care about the complexities of dealing with lighting, blur, jitter, optics, background challenges and page size.  Apps that do not understand this problem get negative feedback and customers believe the apps do not work when, in reality, it all comes back to a basic principal: if you are going to ask the customer to submit mobile content, make sure it works at the first finger swipe.

It is dumbfounding to see the many intuitive mobile capture apps that are being held prisoner by purpose-built app components that are the same components competitors use. Banks should not invest in technology for a single use case that makes them captive to a vendor whose sole focus is to give all organizations the exact same solution and user experience.

However, currently, retailers, financial institutions and mobile payment systems are dependent on their mobile image capture vendor to develop and deliver the next solution—on their schedule, based upon their priorities, and of course, it will be available to all of their competitors as well.

It is better to standardize on a single, vendor-neutral platform that enables you to control your mobile destiny and develop and deploy mobile apps and solutions according to your plans, your domain expertise, with your resources. This is your competitive advantage, you should cease it.

Analytics can also provide powerful insight. Do you know the overall effectiveness of your mobile imaging solution? Can you visibly see how many documents (checks, bills, driver licenses, supporting documents) are being processed in a straight-through manner, or do you know what documents give the lowest level of accuracy and therefore have the highest processing cost (in time and labor)? You can't improve what you don't measure. Current systems are not providing banks with the actionable insights required to ensure optimized success of their mobile capture solution. 

If you cannot answer how many times your users exit a screen or what is the cost to process a document from a particular iOS device versus the cost to process the same document from a particular Android model, then you are missing an opportunity to save money, and more importantly, deliver a more effective user experience. Analytics can reveal the costs to process a document, from a specific device, user demographic and geography. Analytics can also give your customers real feedback on what went wrong so they can correct their behavior, thereby giving them more intelligence into processes and convenience. These are important insights that speak to the level of control you have for ensuring your customers get the most effective experience and benefit from your apps.

One of the most costly and time consuming elements of a mobile imaging app is the integration into backend systems and services. Integration may be as simple as leveraging patented data matching software to extract, validate and process a bill, invoice, account statement, proof of income, or proof of identity. Or it could entail integration with data service providers for additional validation, fraud detection and risk management.

Whatever the degree of integration sophistication, app designers are usually obligated to do it all in the back office, taking months to complete. But wouldn’t it be ideal if advanced integration services enabled your app to immediately connect to corporate or third party services at any point in the process, and complete it within weeks? You should be asking yourself right now what level of integration services are provided to you when orchestrating and designing your mobile app and process.

It all comes back to whether or not you are interested in controlling your mobile destiny and delivering mobile capture apps and use cases that drive revenue, improve customer engagement, and accelerate transactions. The best designed, innovative and useable apps win.

Drew Hyatt is senior vice president of mobile applications at Kofax