The way in which we work is changing and thanks to developments in document management and electronic content management, there is a very real possibility that the paperless office could become a reality in the next decade. This is great news, not only for the environment but for businesses seeking to streamline their processes and reduce administration and storage costs. Electronic content management offers huge potential but what are the future trends and how will it shape the way we work?
You’d have to have had your head in the clouds (excuse the pun!) to have missed all the talk of ‘cloud storage’. Just in case you don’t know, cloud storage simply refers to the practice of using a network of remote internet servers to store, manage and process data. It looks as though cloud storage is about to go mainstream, largely thanks to the benefits it can bring in terms of reduced storage costs, document control, the ability to work from anywhere and disaster recovery.
Although there are still questions to be asked over the security of cloud storage this isn’t a problem that’s unique to the cloud alone. It could be argued that any form of document storage can present a storage risk but because the benefits of cloud storage far outweigh the risks, this trend in document storage is set to stay.
The way in which we search digitally stored documents – this often referred to in the trade as ‘findability’ – is predicted to be something which will really take off. Findability shouldn’t be confused with search-ability as the two are very different: findability is used to describe how easy it is to find information on a website, for example, whilst search-ability is the ability to find information by using known information such as a keyword or phrase.
At some point in the future, the way in which we search the web and data will take into account who you are, where you are, what you do and what you already know; providing you with search results that are unique and relevant to you alone. The search engines have been around for some time now and they’ve demonstrated that there’s an awful lot of information out there and that it can be hard work finding out what you need to know. Wouldn’t it be better if we could direct relevant information in the user’s direction? Of course it would and with this in mind the document management technology of the near future will be built to make content as easily accessible as possible.
Last and by no means least is the trend towards document management and electronic content management moving from the side-lines towards the centre stage. It’s predicted that document management will become the new email – remember when email was a real novelty? That’s the way in which document management is still seen by many businesses but in a couple of years’ time there’s unlikely to be many businesses that aren’t making the most of it – exactly like email.
How will document management move into the mainstream? Well many businesses already recognise the benefits that it can bring in terms of profit and increased productivity and this is contributing to a slow but significant shift in thinking. This is why content-rich document management processes are likely to become increasingly commonplace with user action triggered by commands such as ‘save’, ‘move’ or ‘open’. Although this doesn’t sound like a particularly major development, no one who runs a business wants to set out on a very steep learning curve, watching their employees get to grips with a brand-new information system. Content-rich systems will enable employees to get to grips with document management from the word-go and will help the flow of the right information from one place to another.