MobileForms is Altech Card Solutions’ latest product offering; one that is sure to turn the business world on its head as it brings the elusive paperless office within reach.
Altech Card Solutions (ACS) is known for the secure switching services it provides to the banking industry. MobileForms, however, is not a banking-related solution at all. It is a tool that eliminates the bane of paper forms, regardless of the industry.
Why then, is ACS one of only two South African partners for this UK-developed solution? The answer, says Derek Chaplin, Managing Director of ACS, is the company’s trust relationship with most of South Africa’s banks. “eSAY, the company that developed the MobileForms technology, specifically wanted partners in Africa. They realised that as we already host banks’ data this would open doors for them into this highly regulated sector. For us, MobileForms is a wonderful opportunity to grow ACS both in terms of establishing annuity income streams and moving horizontally into new markets.”
Dr Moneeb Awan, Managing Director of eSAY, confirms Derek’s assessment. “ACS is a fabulous fit for us. It has a great pedigree, is part of a listed company and is taking us into a new vertical, namely banking. Without ACS it would have been all but impossible for our technology to break into the local banking sector.”
A mere 18 months after ACS and eSAY signed their partnership agreement, MobileForms is already in various stages of the test and implementation phases in three of South Africa’s major banks. However, despite ACS’ natural fit with the industry, banks were not the first adopters of MobileForms. While ACS was in the process of obtaining the necessary approvals for MobileForms from bodies such as the Financial Intelligence Centre and Visa and MasterCard, Geoff Evans, Executive Manager: MobileForms, was exploring other markets. One of his targets was the facilities management industry where the solution is being warmly welcomed.
“Facilities management is not an industry ACS would previously have considered for its services, but with MobileForms we now have a product that is relevant to it,” says Geoff. ACS’ early experience underlines Moneeb’s assertion that there really is no answer to the question of who MobileForms’ potential customers are. “Our product is like email – who was email’s market when it was launched? All businesses that are plagued by paper are our potential customers. There’s no paper form that can’t be mobilised. That’s how big our potential market is.”
ACS itself is also becoming a customer. With its repair centre processing 20 000 A4 pages a month, the warehouse could easily drown in paper. “We decided in 2011/12 that we had to get rid of this paper,” says Derek. “MobileForms arrived like manna from heaven for us. As soon as we’ve completed the integration into our ERP system, we’ll be doing away with paper completely.”
This sense of relief is common when potential customers are introduced to MobileForms. It is also the reason why industries that are traditionally slow to change, like banking and law, are adopting the tool. “This is disruptive technology,” says Moneeb. “We are flipping the paper industry on its head by removing the need for paper forms. Companies recognise that innovation like this helps to keep them ahead of the game. Faced with disruptive technology, even the traditional corporates realise that they have to move or become irrelevant.”
“Customers understand the benefits as soon as we start demonstrating the technology,” adds Derek. “They want to get rid of their paper and we are giving them the tools to do that. Furthermore, with the help of eSAY, MobileForms keeps evolving and developing so that we can find solutions to new problems.” He cites the example of a bank form that needs to be signed by different people. Instead of printing it out, eSAY has built in the ability for a PDF document to be signed electronically as it makes its way through the corporate levels.
Continuous innovation is a hallmark of MobileForms. “We keep developing the product further based on feedback from our partners and their customers, and our own intuition,” says Moneeb. “A recent development is the ability to incorporate video into forms. There’s never an end point – we don’t know the destination. The product we launched in 2011 is nothing like what we have today, and what we have today is nothing like what we’ll have five years from now.”