As 2015 continues to unfold, I thought I’d take a few minutes, in between revisiting my own resolutions for the year, to think about what the coming year holds for our industry.
The document management sector is ever-changing and many companies are still working with paper files, but still we see lots of great opportunity for technology to play a major role in improving efficiency and increasing the bottom line.
The digital universe – while prolific – doesn’t account for all of an organization’s content, at least not yet. As a result, the trends we’re seeing have a lot to do with organizations becoming more aware of all of their content, and learning to manage it; moving from simply thinking of content as an asset, to thinking of content as knowledge, insight, value.
While it may be simple to search through digital files, it’s much harder when you factor in paper, scans, faxes, emails, images – and a plethora of other formats. Not only that, but what do you do when you find the file – if you manage to find it? Can you open it? Can others? Can you share it? Are you allowed to?
The year of 2015 is all about taking control of your content, and moving it through the document lifecycle. To this end, here are some trends we’re predicting in the document management industry for 2015:
Growth in e-discovery
While this area was growing in 2014, we will definitely see further growth in 2015. Organizations will be looking to get a better understanding of their electronic files and have a thorough account of what content they have, better protecting themselves from litigation and other complications. This will move from a nice-to-have to a critical issue after an anticipated onslaught of major lawsuits in the second half.
Importance of information governance
Similar to the growing relevance of e-discovery, information governance will be a primary initiative for organizations. Defensible data deletion – the safe deletion of files which are no longer required for compliance or ongoing business purposes – will be front and center as organizations try to curb their storage costs and manage their risks and liability. Again, we see increased litigation, and expect at least one F500 to suffer a catastrophic financial impact due to either unnecessarily archived data being exposed, or sensitive data being deleted – like this for example.
Big data goes small
The term big data has been around for a few years now, but many organizations don’t fully understand its implications and weaknesses. With the content in document repositories, for example, there are a lot of challenges with exposing metadata and properties in order to analyze the data, and in some cases, the myriad of formats and nuances in presentation make information unanalyzable. In 2015, ironically, we predict that organizations will look to make big data “real” by going small. Rather than attempting to boil the ocean, unlocking ALL information across the entire company with one magic Hadoop bullet, organizations will shift towards process-specific analytic solutions. They will invest in tools to help them automate discrete, high value, often back-end processes, and not just chase the media-hyped panacea of discovering some (often unfindable) needle in a (misunderstood) haystack.
Risks of dark and dirty data
Dark and dirty data may be relatively new phrases, but the concept is as old as the document itself. Dark data – content which exists within an organization but is not known, searchable or findable – can cause a lot of problems and make the organization open to risks. Dirty data – content which is known but is incomplete, poorly rendered, and contains unreadable or incorrect information – can also cause organizations to fall prone to risk. Organizations will be looking to manage their dark and dirty data with tools that help automate the process to clean up their content. These will be the buzz words of the industry. If you haven’t already, expect to hear them in random keynotes from the major players and in at least one or two analyst reports.
Archiving goes main stream
Companies have been converting paper documents to electronic format for long term retention for some time now, and there’s no end in sight. Often, the format of choice has been TIFF, which has large file sizes and is not text searchable. The PDF/A standard is significantly more robust, and with the launch of PDF/A-3 and the ability to incorporate source files as well as things like video, there will be a significant uptake of this format. While NARA has been on the backburner in the US, in 2015 it will slowly gain more strength with, we predict, at least one government department getting in major hot water with the current administration. Related technologies, like MRC compression, auto-classification, ROT analysis and de-duplication, along with ever-decreasing hardware costs, and a number of cloud storage options, will allow organizations to get serious about archiving and do it more effectively, efficiently, and within budgetary constraints.