The History of Document Management

The History of Document Management

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Document Management – The Past, The Present And The Future.

A document management system is a pc based software and hardware application that's used to store, track and retrieve electronic counsel which originated, most often, as a paper based document. Available now for nearly three decades the origination and originator(s) of electronic document management is the subject of much speculation. In order for somebody to create something entirely new there generally has to be a identifiable and justifiable 'need'. In the case of document management the 'need' for electronic storage and retrieval of documents and images used to be first identified back in the 1970's. The break of day of time as far as computer technology is concerned!

Regular journeys to the filing cupboards or archived storage areas of a a busy office were both time consuming and as inefficient back then as they are today. Efficiency equalled speed of both storage and retrieval which in turn meant more productivity. The 'need' for something faster than the labour intensive walk to the filing cupboards used to be born.

Several software design studios and hardware vendors claim to have created document management but the truth is that it evolved through a lot of applications from many different firms. The first recognised true document management appeared in the 1980's when it used to be possible to shop document management techniques that catered for the electronic storage and retrieval of paper based documents, photos and prints etc.

These were in the main stored on local user file techniques so were not that flexible for multi users in multiple locations. They were collectively known as document imaging techniques mainly due to the main capabilities which were the storage, indexing, capture and eventual retrieval of image file formats.

The industry software usual for document management these days is either PDF or TIFF format (Portable document format & Tagged image file format)

TIFF used to be invented in the mid 1980's by the Aldus Corporation to create a typical file format for storage of scanned images. Now controlled by Adobe there have been no major updates since 1992.

PDF used to be invented by Adobe in 1993 for the purpose of facilitating portable document exchange amongst techniques and applications. It's been developed and updated over the years and there are now three varieties:

1. NORMAL The most common form of PDF and typically created from a document such as Microsoft Word. It exhibits the complete range of text from the original page with coding to outline specifics such as font sizes etc.

2. IMAGE ONLY This is a PDF that has been created from one or more images – usually by scanning a document either straight away to PDF or by converting a scanned TIFF image to PDF.

3. SEARCHABLE This is an "image best" PDF that contains a hidden lay of text generated by an OCR program (Optical character recognition). This enables the file to be searched in the same way you are going to search a ordinary PDF and text can be copied and pasted.

The Present Day: Demands from commercial are already "pushing the envelope" for document management and the advent of cheap cloud storage and relatively inexpensive internal and net applications now mean that document management is affordable for even the smallest commercial user. OCR for example is already playing a very significant part in the future of document management as the demand for digital formatting increases. Many health records, financial statements and offender documents are already being dealt with and accessed digitally. Current innovation in ebooks for example are producing a sturdy demand for digital formats together with digital publishing and downloaded distribution. However we are still a long, wonderful means off a truly paper less commercial environment.

The Future: The ultimate goal has to be 'paperless'. Statistics say that it takes two dozen significant trees to make one tonne of paper. Stack that paper on a conventional pallet and you have about a ton in weight. Imagine now how many trees are felled each day, even allowing for recycling, to offer this planet with the paper that we currently all use in our daily commercial lives. For this reason alone electronic document management as a complete solution will be an grand contributor in replacing conventional paper formats in the future. We will eventually run out of trees, its that simple.

Experts predict that eventually everyone will carry an extremely light and cheap document reader that will allow us all to synchronise, update and distribute documents to colleagues or customers. This will change the way we handle a whole lot of what we currently take as a right and without consciously considering of the impact we are having on the planet. For example, instead of significant corporations spending hundreds of thousands of pounds producing coupons and ads that are mailed to customers, we will be able to receive them on demand via digital processing and publishing networks or email. This currently is underway but is still in its infancy.

Businesses in the future will change into more de-centralised with off-site workers communicating not through journeys to the filing cabinet but via on-line document management access and advances and enhancements in on-line security will make it simpler for all of us to receive and store documents electronically. Banks already be proposing paper less statements as an aid to improving efficiency and cutting costs. Other sectors of commercial would definitely follow in time. A unique key access protocol will provide the car or truck to enable this massive sea change to change into a reality. We already utilise pin numbers for bank cash machines. In the not so distant future accessing statements, reports, health records, offender documents and even theatre or travel tickets will all be electronically motivated in the future. The world of document management is about to get a whole lot more interesting with the added benefits of improving the one commodity we all best have a finite interval of time.

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