When the current fever for converting paper documents into electronic files has passed, the main focus of most companies will reside on how to store high volumes of documents as efficiently as possible, to ensure quick and simple document retrieval.

The international economic crisis has had devastating consequences, affecting numerous companies all over the world. However, this situation has also become a business opportunity for those who knew how and when to invest and stand out from the competition.

After all, difficult times tend to intensify our resourcefulness, teaching us how to do more with less. This phenomenon has occurred in many Systems departments, which, driven by important budget cuts, opted to invest in technologies that provide a quick ROI, increase productivity levels and save costs.

Document software is part of the group of technologies that, despite the crisis, have experienced an important impetus. From the beginning, these types of technologies have been developed to optimize internal corporate processes and increase savings. However, the current economic situation is not the only cause for the rapid development of document technologies. New market requirements have forced suppliers to press the accelerator to be able to offer companies more innovative and efficient document management software solutions.

The Past, Present and Future of Document Management Systems

In recent years, digitisation has become the main feature offered by most document technologies. This is mainly the result of the growing need of companies the reduce paper consumption and the efforts of Public Administrations to provide citizens with Web-based forms and other online means to carry out procedures, send requests, etc.

However, it seems that the future of document management will take a different turn. All signs point at Enterprise Content Management (ECM) services as the main source of benefits obtained from document management systems in a near future. After all, when the current fever for converting paper documents into electronic files has passed, the main focus will reside on how to store high volumes of documents as efficiently as possible, to ensure quick and simple document retrieval.

Large organizations will most probably start to purchase ECM solutions to integrate them into their ERPs and CRMs in order to obtain a more structured overview of all their corporate documentation. On the other hand, small and medium sized companies, which generally do not have their own Systems departments, will start to outsource these processes to raise their productivity levels and be more competitive.

A World of Benefits To Explore

Some benefits of Enterprise Content Management are very well known, such as a rapid ROI, better streamlined internal processes and more time for staff to focus on business-critical tasks.

However, most companies tend to focus only on the short-term benefits of ECM solutions, while there are many positive effects that are often overlooked because they are difficult to measure. For example, few managers mention optimized customer services and an improved corporate image as some of the benefits obtained from an ECM project.

In fact, in an increasingly competitive world, where standing out from the competition is essential to survive, Systems department managers of any organization should consider these two factors – customer service and corporate image. After all, document management systems, including Enterprise Content Management services, will not only generate direct benefits for Systems departments, but will also significantly improve their company´s position in the market.

Now we only need to wait and see which companies will be the first to take the most out of ECM and stand out among their competitors.