Document Management has come a long way since Edwin Siebel invented the filing cabinet in the 1800’s. It has to be said however that innovation in the Document Management space was pretty slow up until the advent of Electronic Document Management Systems (EDMS) in the 1980’s.
EDMS was brilliant because it immediately improved accessibility of the stored documents as well as the timeliness of that access. As the EDMS vendors continued to innovate they introduced innovative functions such as version control, document locking, annotations and even electronic forms. At the time this was all very forward thinking and really started to empower organisations and their users.
Move forward to the last 5 years and there has been a lot of the noise in Document Management around the addition of workflow capabilities to Document Management platforms. This is a match made in heaven as documents are at the core of most organisational processes. It is a great way of getting an ROI on what was once often considered a cost liability. I think all the major players in the EDMS pace are now adding workflow (office automation, work management, business process management etc.) functionality to their core offerings (some more successfully than others).
So what of the future? Where does Document Management go next? Well here are some of our thoughts at FileBound Australia;
1. Process Tuning
Implementing document based workflows (as mentioned above) has been a tremendous leap forward for organisations. The next logical step to that is having the ability to performance tune these workflows. To do this organisations will need to analyse the data created whilst running the processes and look for improvement opportunities. This will require EDMS vendors to build analytics capabilities into their platforms. Once this step is taken we could even see the emergence of self-improving workflows where the analytics engine makes assessments and adjusts the work process automatically.
2. Explosion of the electronic form
Essentially e-form engines allow organisations to easily create standard forms and letters. These documents are the lifeblood of an organisation and represent a significant administrative load (and therefore cost) to all organisations. Some of the EMDS platforms already deal with e-forms however we believe their use will multiply as more and more processes are automated. This is due to the fact that e-forms can be used to trigger workflows or created as a critical component of a workflow. Future EDMS development will revolve around e-form design engines and hosting platforms so that any organisations staff, customers and suppliers can access and use the forms.
Investment in mobility will continue unabated. BYOD programs will continue to proliferate and fuel the need for EDMS system to work with multiple mobile platforms. The mobile platforms have historically been lesser functioned to the core EDMS function and over time this will change so that users can have a richer experience whilst on the move.
EDMS vendors have been slow off the mark with Cloud. Most of the EDMS vendors have a client-server legacy and trying to cloud enable that has proven expensive and difficult. The growth of cloud-native vendors and the changed appetite for Cloud from the buying market will see Cloud delivered EDMS start to and continue to grow aggressively. One of the biggest influencers in future growth will be the SME market. Cloud represents an ability for these organisations to access valuable functionality that has traditionally only been afforded by larger organisations. Small organisations will start to manage their documents and workflows in ways that are similar to larger organisations.
5. Vendor specialisation
AS EDMS platforms have evolved many of them have tried to be all things to all people. We see tenders in market looking for requirements that span Capture, DMS, Web Content Management, Digital Asset Management, Case Management, Records Management, Knowledge Management, Analytics, Asset Management and Workflow. Now as we move forward each key vendor will need to determine which of these functions are their core strength. It is not feasible that a vendor will be able to tick all those boxes and even if they did it is unlikely that they would deliver quality outcomes. Vendors will need to know what they are good at and the market will need to be better at assessing which of these functions are their priorities for investment.
6. Capture integration
We have already seen some mergers and acquisitions where Capture Vendors buy EDMS assets and visa versa. Going forward these two groups will continue to merge, partner and tightly integrate. EDMS players will continue to build capture capabilities into their platform and offer capture capabilities as part of their workflow processing. These capture capabilities combined with the e-forms engine will allow the document to morph into a container of data that can take many shapes and forms as it moves through its work processes.
These are just some of the trends we see going forward. We would love to know your thoughts so let us know what you think.