Océ Business Services third annual document management industry survey uncovered some interesting trends. The goal of the survey, "At the Crossroads: Leveraging Document Management Strategies on the Path to Economic Recovery," was to investigate how survey respondents and their organizations are deploying five document management processes to contain costs and realize other business benefits as the US charts a path to economic recovery. The report also investigates specific document management activities that offer apparent — and hidden — opportunities.

The five document management activities include:

  1. Document imaging (paper-to-digital conversion)
  2. Enterprise-wide print/copy
  3. Mail and shipping
  4. Records management
  5. Fleet management (print/copy/fax fleet)

Focus on Document Imaging
One trend uncovered by the survey is a significant number of companies plan to increase their spending for document imaging activities: 52% of survey respondents assert that their organization's document imaging budget will increase while 42% said it would remain the same. Organizations are finding electronic document imaging lowers the cost of storing and managing paper-based records while improving document retrieval and disaster recovery capabilities.

Digital Mail and Records
Besides exploring their organization's budget commitments, the survey also asked executives to what extent their companies were gaining the potential business benefits of two specific document management activities: digitizing mail and records management processes. The survey focused on these two processes because digital mail represents an evolution in mail center management while digitizing elements of records management has become increasingly important in order to adequately meet regulatory compliance and legal discovery needs.

A majority of executives (56%) indicate that their organization will maintain spending for mail management activities in 2010; a small number (15%) assert that spending will increase. Also, more organizations are outsourcing mail management compared to Océ's 2009 survey report in order to gain such benefits as reducing costs and increasing efficiency. With this kind of focus on mail management, this year's survey explored the extent to which executives are aware that mail management is evolving from a traditional, paper-based process to a digitized process. (Digital mail is a hybrid mail and scanning process that converts incoming paper mail into digital and delivers the mail to the addressee electronically.)

The survey results indicate some companies (12%) are scanning mail in the mailroom and tapping the digital mail process for the benefits it offers. However, a majority of enterprises (75%) are not scanning mail in the mailroom and not attaining the advantages the process offers.

With regard to records management, a strong majority of companies recognize its importance — 83% of survey respondents indicate that their company has a records management program in place. This and other survey findings — such as the number of companies increasing spending or planning to create a program — make a strong case for the importance of records management during 2010 and beyond.

However, a relatively low number of respondents (10%) said that their company's program includes an electronic records repository. This area might represent an opportunity for some companies to reap the benefits of integrating digital processes and technology into their records programs.

Untapped Opportunities
One message has been consistent throughout the survey during the past three years. Increasingly, organizations realize that document management processes offer apparent — and in some cases hidden — opportunities to gain an edge, whatever the economic climate.

KEN NEAL [kenneth.neal@oce.com] is a Certified Enterprise Content Management Practitioner and director of Corporate Communications for Océ Business Services, a provider of document process management services and technology. The full survey report, "At the Crossroads: Leveraging Document Management Strategies on the Path to Economic Recovery," is available at www.obs-innovation.com.


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