Document Management Trends: Vendor Nativity, Platforms, and More

By Jesse Wood, CEO of document management software vendor, eFileCabinet

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No matter which DMS vendor one chooses to use based on document management trends, the most important step prior to vendor selection is identifying and documenting the organization’s own internal processes.

Doing so will make choosing the right vendor for your organization and its employees easier. Workers are presently subjected to data, knowledge, and information overload because of unstructured content, and selecting the right DMS will help organizations discern the relevant items from the junk cluttering the organizational intranet and out of date-document management trends, like filing cabinets and fax machines.

A Note on Vendor Native Solutions

The more vendor native a DMS is, the more its technological features, services, and capabilities belong to them, whereas vendors who rely on strategic partnerships have less vendor nativity.

Selecting a DMS from a vendor with plenty of strategic partnerships will typically offer a greater number of software integrations and rely less on their own technological means to drive innovative product development.

Selecting a DMS vendor with technology entirely or almost entirely native to its own innovation will provide simpler, quicker customer service. Both have specific benefits and drawbacks worth discussing with prospective DMS vendors.

Hybrid, Mobile, Cloud, and On Premise(s) DMS Platforms: Document Management Trends

A document management system is among the most fitting stages for legacy IT infrastructure and cloud-based IT infrastructure debates, for both models have benefits and drawbacks reified through the document management system as an enterprise solution.

Neither online, cloud-based DMS, mobile DMS, nor on premise(s) DMS is inherently better than the other. Although smaller businesses are cost-averse, they are the group that benefits the most from the pricing options of cloud solutions, which free up more room to cover the pressing costs many SMBs and SMOs face in their earlier stages.

However, again, preexisting organizational processes must be identified to determine which document management trends will support the medium that is right for an organization.

The mobile and cloud-based mediums are drastically changing the process of content management for the enterprise, as is the consumption of content from both enterprises and customers alike.

Although DMS vendor analysts have observed that a hybridization of cloud, mobile, and on premise(s) solutions is likely to occur, in practice, many DMS vendors are beginning to understand how such a mashup might confuse potential buyers, overloading them with too much at once, and the latter of these two phenomenon is more likely to take place.

Although many understand cloud-based software as a frighteningly new and therefore insecure technology, it has actually been around since the late 1960s – its origins traceable to some of the earlier forms of utility computing.

However, when the personal computer emerged, it was quicker and smaller than anything the cloud was able to produce up until that point. Therefore, computer experts shifted their attention from the cloud to focus on personalizing the computer, which is how the term “PC” emerged.

Thus, if deterred from an online, cloud-based DMS solely because it is perceived as “new,” it may be worth rethinking it as a viable DMS medium for your organization.

On premise(s) DMS Benefits

On premise(s) DMSs provide their users with greater control (not security) over all data, information, and content, offering a solution that IT professionals must be capable of overseeing.

Although this DMS puts a steeper learning curve on IT professionals than cloud-based online versions, it still offers a long-term return on investment with the ability to manage it as a tangible organizational asset.

Online, Cloud-Based DMS Benefits

Among the myriad benefits of these DMSs are the absence of software licensing costs, no need to change internal IT processes and structures (with the exception of scanning and uploading documents to paper format if need be), and little if any need for other maintenance assistance.

In choosing a cloud-based DMS, an organization essentially pays their DMS vendor to provide it with data storage space in the cloud – making those who sell the cloud-based solutions to organizations more responsible for the security of the organization’s information, and, therefore, more likely to take better care of this information.

Additionally, moving to the cloud eliminates the need to rely on hardware, and, consequently, the need to rely on this hardware if it malfunctions.

Although many IT professionals are convinced that the cloud is not secure solely because it involves storing information off-site, this is the very factor that makes it safer. Remember, roughly half of all data breaches in the US are completed internally – one of the many disturbing document management trends.

The present trend is that IT functions less as an internal service and more as something the organization consumes from third-party vendors – and this has contributed to massive gains in innovation and product development within the DMS space.

Therefore, if DMS users do not become comfortable with a mobile version as an DMS medium by using cloud-based, online DMS solutions first, their ability to stay up to speed with competitors in terms of operational processes will be stunted.

Assuming that data compression technology keeps pace with the business functionality that can be manifested through cloud-based DMS, certain collaborative features that streamline business processes, such as workflow, will gain increasing functionality and presence within the cloud, moving larger, more all-encompassing business functions entirely to the cloud.

Although the internet of things (IoT) is yet to be fully integrated into Enterprise Content Management services and product offerings, the prospect of doing so is probable among DMS vendors, many of which are now exploring methods of integrating both technologies in a way that best fits the needs of enterprises. Within the next decade, we can expect to see the two fully converge and become manifest as a seamlessly connected enterprise.

To learn more about specific differences between on premise(s) DMS and cloud-based DMS, go here.

Open vs. Closed-Source Code Document Management Software

Two discussions are particularly important in further understanding the modes by which DMS operates: what constitutes open-source DMS software and-closed source DMS software, and why the distinction matters when selecting an DMS solution from a particular vendor.

An open-source software retains an adjustable source code, meaning the code can be manipulated for one’s own personal interests. Some argue that open-source software is better than closed-source software because it can be altered to meet individual companies’ needs when the need for technological change arises.

Thus, if an organization purchases open-source software, they are purchasing the right to alter its source code in accordance with their own needs, whereas one who buys closed-source software is solely purchasing the proprietary right to use it.

This dichotomy is also relevant from the perspective of the operating system. Although document management trends are going OS agnostic, the platform still matters to buyers more than ever.

The first open-source platform debates emerged via the law propounded by Eric Raymond called ‘Linus’ Law.” This law states that “Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow,” (3) meaning the greater the number of coders who see and alter a set of code, the more likely issues with the code can be deleted.

Some say argue that open-source software models increase the workload for DMS users’ IT teams, developers, and employees. However, most DMS vendors prefer the closed-source software model, leaving little work for the organizations to whom they sell.

This means that even though open-source software allows authorized personnel within organizations to promptly fix DMS software bugs and alter code, it does not expedite the repair process in many cases.

Consequently, businesses using open-source technologies to transmit information are hemorrhaging opportunity cost to document management software open-source defects.

In general, organizations in innovative industries tend to benefit most from open-source models, whereas organizations more concerned with security may benefit more from closed-source software. Neither open-source nor closed-source is superior to its counterpart, but each has distinct benefits and drawbacks.

Hybrid DMS Solutions

Although these options are rare and are yet to see their time, they do provide some benefits despite their rarity and expensiveness, and as one of the foremost document management trends, hybridizing solutions will prove crucial in 2017.

Hybrids may start with on premise(s) and adjoin to a cloud-based model to boost security and maximize a preexisting setup.

In the future, hybrid solutions will be able to simplify data backup and information retrieval. For instance, if the server fails, business processes can be maintained via the cloud while the on premise(s) foundation is restored and or fixed-enabling the business to focus on its customer-centric operations in the event of a technological downturn.

Application Program Interfaces (APIs)

Generally, it is in an DMS purchaser’s best interest to opt-in to a solution with an open Application Program Interface (API). This allows the user or organization to integrate with solutions that organizations are already using.

Typically, document management trends in APIs will cluster to industries that emphasize security-intensive features, such as law, finance, insurance, and higher education.

Although DMS is a fairly extensive technology for business process management in and of itself, it is most effective when its Open Application Program Interface (API) can be used in tandem with industry niche software like Payroll and Payment Managers (Sage), Business PDF editors (Foxit), electronic and digital signature applications (DocuSign), financial software (Quickbooks), Customer Relationship Management (CRM/Salesforce) software, Microsoft Office, e-recording services (Simplifile), and other specialty services (Caselle).

Key Security Differentiators

Where data is stored and how many physical and artificial locations it has for data backup are important security differentiators among DMS vendors. The gold standard for the combined number of physical and artificial locations ranges from three to four.

These multiple points of presence (MPoPs) ensure that, in the event of a natural disaster or an office-break in, the data is replicated across an organization’s functions.

Do note, however, that although data backup functions are retained in on premise(s) solutions, the majority of DMS vendors do not replicate multiple physical copies of the information in on premise(s) solutions. These document management trends will continue through 2017 as it pertains to MPoPs.

A strong DMS vendor will provide multiple platforms for securing both data in transit and data at rest. While the security of data at rest is achieved primarily through data backup, data in transit requires highly encrypted web portal.

Document management trends revealed in 2016 that data breaches are frequently the result of poor DMS usage.

Data in transit is the most at-risk data, because it usually involves sensitive client and customer information – meaning it should not be subjected to breach possibilities via traditional email.

However, data at rest is a security issue, too – since roughly half of the organizational data breaches worldwide are the result of employees’ errors or malicious intent.

As a general security standard for Enterprise Content Management, information and data at reset should be stored in data centers or sent through enterprise technologies with specific security attestations. Be sure to discuss these with vendors prior to selecting an DMS solution.

SAS 70 Type 1 Attestation: This service auditor report is a simple attestation, including descriptions of controls and an organization’s operating effectiveness. Offering fraud and security intelligence services for organizations, it is the first installment of two SAS attestations.

SAS 70 Type 2 Attestation: The SAS 70 Type 2 attestation retains several differences as they pertain to DMS. For instance, information specified by the service report auditors is optional in the Type 1 Attestation, whereas information regarding tests and operating effectiveness as administered by the quality assurance professional will be included in the Type 2 attestations.

However, it is similar to the Type 1 Attestation because it also offers fraud and security intelligence services for organizations.

SSAE 16 is a more holistic group of security standards when contrasted with its security predecessor, SAS 70. Viable DMS solutions will have SSAE 16 (Statements on Standards for Attestation Engagements No. 16) audit approval, a standard for data control centers devised by the AICPA (The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants).

Although administered by public accounting professionals, the accounting focus of this attestation is applicable to organizations in any industry.

Level 1, Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS): This security standard is designed to accord with the International Organization for Standardization’s (ISO) standard 27001, and is particularly applicable in the accounting and finance industries.

This standard ensures information continuity, accessibility, and confidentiality in asset management, among many other facets of the aforementioned industries.

Organizations are deemed worthy of the ISO Standard 27001 certification through the NQA (National Quality Assurance) at NQA.org, and DMS vendors provide the features and security to more easily reach verification of this security standard.

256-Bit Advanced Encryption Standard: Relevant to data in transit and client-sharing portals, this standard in Enterprise Content Management, although administered by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in 2001, is still relevant and revised to accommodate current enterprise technologies.

About the Author:

Jesse Wood is the CEO of document management software vendor, eFileCabinet. Founded in 2001, eFileCabinet, Inc. began as a cutting-edge tool to digitally store records in accounting firms. As it grew in popularity, eFileCabinet developed into a full-fledged electronic document management solution designed to help organizations automate redundant processes, ensure security, and solve common office problems.

 

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