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Key trends in digital document collaboration

08 Jan 2013

Business communications increasingly use multi-media formats but digital documents, including proposals, requirements, plans, agreements and reports, remain the primary currency of business.

As a result, document management and collaboration continues to be a core activity of knowledge workers in their day-to-day work.

These workers need better tools for working on and sharing documents. When it comes to collaboration, organisations should consider three important trends:

• Project teams spanning many internal and external stakeholders are the norm, posing risks to information security.

• The need for complex documents that reflect the pace of information in emerging channels such as social media.

• Reducing costs via better efficiency remains at the top of the business agenda.

Businesses are made up of teams that are scattered far and wide, driving the need for collaboration tools across different devices, (tablets, smartphones, PCs), especially when it comes to document exchange.

Workers also frequently collaborate with people outside the company.

These practices can be inefficient and raise concerns about confidential information falling into the wrong hands. For this reason, IT needs to provide tools that enable workers to protect company information, even when documents travel outside of the corporate firewall.

Demand for dynamic documents is growing

The expectations around documents are changing. There are more devices to view it, and there are more devices to create it. This is fuelling the shift from static to digital documents.

Digital documents are interactive, including links, buttons, embedded calculations, and rich content, including drawings, images, videos, embedded web pages, and forms.

They allow knowledge workers to work more easily and efficiently:

• Communicate complex processes or concepts –The ability to easily combine drawings, images, and video along with written documents can accelerate understanding and decision-making.

• Efficiently receive and process rich content – people increasingly need to be able to easily receive, review, and approve content via digital signatures containing photos, audio recordings, or video.

• Be more persuasive – Digital documents enable knowledge workers to deliver better presentations and proposals.

IT faces continued pressure to reduce costs via better efficiency. Improving business processes and workforce effectiveness remain at the top of the priority list for many executives.

By including productivity applications as a part of the organisation’s core software, IT can improve productivity and enable knowledge workers to be more efficient in the following ways:

• Speed up content reviews – Document review cycles can add days—even months—to project timelines.

• Accelerate approvals – tracking of who approved a document and when is often required as part of the business process.

• Reuse content more easily – Reformatting and reorganising existing information is a productivity killer.

• Find information faster – Whether paper or digital, workers waste time searching for information.

• Create and manage forms better –self- service forms empower employees to automate their departmental forms, easing the burden on IT.

• Automate common document tasks - and ensure consistency and adherence to set policies.

The bottom line

Knowledge workers are already seeking better, more secure and more flexible document collaboration solutions and, in some cases, are bringing these tools into the office environment from outside.

To help meet business objectives, IT must be proactive in increasing the efficiency, security and versatility of document collaboration while enabling more dynamic methods of communication.