By Diarmuid O’Casey, chief solutions architect, Xerox Federal Solutions
Today’s technology headlines are full of visionary predictions about the cloud computing future. Virtualization is a hot topic. And people are already talking about the next phase in the evolution of the Internet… the Semantic Web or Web 3.0.
All of these developments are very exciting and suggest that we are rapidly approaching another Information Age inflection point.
However, what gets far less attention is the changing role of documents. The simple fact is that all of the technological advancements mentioned above will be paralleled by significant changes in the form, function and even the definition of documents. And that will inevitably have important implications for the way people work. After all, documents support virtually every organizational goal.
Tomorrow, at the e-Discovery, Records and Information Management Conference in Washington, D.C., I’m speaking about the changing nature of the document and the rapidly approaching “Document 3.0” era.
Many people view a “document” as a static container for information, but that’s only half the story. A document isn’t just the piece of paper or electronic file that is sent along. The content within that paper or file is of equal importance – there’s a story there; a host of information that helps workers understand situations, make decisions, streamline business practices and increase productivity.
With that said, proper records management is the backbone of open government agencies. That’s why the White House drafted the Memorandum for Managing Government Records in November 2011. The directive aims to cut costs of managing agency information while giving the public better access to records.
The first step to overcoming paper-intensive workflows is to take a look at the changing role of documents. Document 2.0 started during the digital revolution when document could now be seen on computer screens. Document 3.0 will dynamically change the way we work. The term Document 3.0 means that documents will become more intelligent and proactive, have improved search and content mining capabilities, facilitate collaboration, and eliminate the barriers between paper and electronic documents.
Here are eight ways that Document 3.0 will change the way we work:
- Cloud Based Collaboration – Cloud-based documents and applications will make it easier and more economical for people to create powerful documents, access information and collaborate. Technological advancements will ensure information security and provide a comprehensive audit trail for documents, which will help people track every stage in their development.
- Level the Playing Field – The cloud computing environment will also help level the playing field between small- and-medium-sized businesses (SMBs) and large global companies, since every enterprise will have access to the same dynamic services.
- Elimination of Proprietary Formats – The disappearance of proprietary formats will make it easy to exchange documents and incorporate information from virtually any source without tedious reformatting.
- Coded Structure – Technological advancements will bring coded structure to the content of all paper and digital documents, dramatically expanding the amount of proprietary and Internet- based information that’s available for our use.
- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – Breakthroughs like reusable and electronic paper documents will help organizations reduce costs and reduce their environmental impact by continuing the remarkable advancements in sustainability made possible by digital documents.
- Mitigate Information Overload – Other advancements will help us manage the very real problem of Information Overload by automatically sorting and prioritizing email and other documents for us.
- Searchable Content – Efforts to standardize document formats and add structure to content will unlock information from their original document containers and turn all digital information into a structured, searchable database.
- Proactive Documents – Documents will save us time by automatically updating information, making the content more relevant to recipients and by shaping their visual representation to suit our preferences.
In the future, the very idea of what constitutes a document will continue to evolve. Instead of fixed containers of static information that have to be read start to finish, documents will become dynamic sources of content that can be quickly accessed, analyzed and imported into other documents, some of which may exist only for a single viewing. An example of this is e-invoicing legislation where they are proposing a single data-format (a combination of PDF and XML) has been agreed upon so that credits and debits can be booked automatically, and archived correctly for tax and legal purposes.
Agencies that make a strategic commitment to employ Document 3.0 best practices and technologies will reap the benefits, thanks to document-driven improvements in efficiency and effectiveness.