Document Management Software Expands Beyond Departmental Installations
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The roots of document management system (DMS) software are in departmental installations running across local area networks (LANs). However, with the proliferation of the Internet, these roots have sprouted into corporate and/or supply chain applications running across the worldwide network known as the Web.
With this growth, new demands are being put on DMS software. These demands include the ability to handle documents in an ever-increasing number of formats, including images, video, audio, etc. They also include the ability to access documents stored in a variety of DMS software repositories.
Contrasting Perspectives On DMS's Future
A number of companies develop DMS software, such as FileNET and Quantum Research. In terms of size, FileNET and Quantum Research are on different ends of the spectrum. This provides contrasting perspectives on the future of the DMS software industry.
FileNET (Costa Mesa, CA) is one of the largest players in DMS software. FileNET has approximately 1,500 employees and its 1997 gross sales were over $250 million. Quantum Research (Stony Brook, NY), on the other hand, is a three-and-a-half-year-old, privately held company with fewer than 20 employees.
DMS Is Part Of A Larger Picture
In addition to DMS software, both companies also develop document imaging, COLD/report management and workflow software. They both integrate these programs into single software packages. "FileNET's vision has always been to manage all types of electronic documents through a single document repository,"says Brian Anderson, v.p. of corporate marketing for FileNET.
"Any end users using DMS software are eventually going to find they may want to attach imaged memos, or copies of faxes, or even video clips to their electronically-created documents. [Editor's note: DMS software was originally developed as a repository for only electronically created, primarily internal, documents.] In the future, DMS software installations will survive as a low-level application. However, for the most part, document management installations will be swallowed up by information management applications."
Vendor Pushes Software Compatibility
Eugene Sayan, president of Quantum Research research, agrees with this vision. However, he takes the scenario one step further. "As more information is being stored in information management systems, the incentive to share this information across departments, or across corporations, increases."
"However, a lot of times a certain type of DMS software might work better in a particular department. Or, a company may have a supply chain relationship with a partner that uses a different type of DMS software," says Sayan. "If different DMS software programs are incompatible, then it involves complicated procedures or programming to be able to share documents among systems."
Sayan is an active member of AIIM's Open Document Management API (application programming interface) (ODMA) committee, which is pushing for standards to allow DMS software from different vendors to share files with each other. "Currently, there are a lot of vendors whose products can read files from ODMA-compliant software. However, most major vendors' DMS software products do not store files in an ODMA-compliant format."
Vendor Encourages His Contemporaries To Adopt ODMA
Sayan said that none of the large DMS software vendors are strongly pushing ODMA-compliance. "End users that need to access documents stored in proprietary formats need to purchase that proprietary software," says Sayan. "For a large vendor to push compliance is like trying to kill the goose that laid the golden egg."
Sayan, however, urges VARs to push for vendors to develop ODMA-compliant software. "The growth of the DMS software market depends on it," he says. "End users want systems that can talk to one another. If the large vendors don't comply with that, I think we will have a similar situation to the one that occurred when Microsoft won the personal computer software market from IBM. IBM thought it was locked in with end users because of the proprietary systems it sold."
Beyond Departmental Installations
In conclusion, VARs who sell document management software need to be prepared to move outside of departmental applications to handle the future needs of end users. "Don't be afraid to start with a single vertical application, such as managing claims forms for an insurance company," says Anderson. "In fact, FileNET wants VARs that have specific vertical solutions. However, these VARs should realize that customers could have DMS software needs that run throughout, and also, outside of, their enterprises."
One DMS Package Does Not Fit All
Sayan adds that VARs should not settle on the notion that all the DMS software components in a large installation have to come from the same vendor. "Different DMS software packages work better in different types of installations. End users want packages designed specifically for their applications. VARs should not be forced to fit one DMS software package throughout an enterprise."