An industry in transformation
For many years, there has been little innovation in workplace documents. For the most part, they have been static pages produced on computers, filed in a digital folder and often printed out. But the industry has been undergoing a slow transition into a dynamic, multifaceted, digitally driven paradigm shaped by fresh forms of information and presentation. Unpacking these developments highlights many exciting new trends and opportunities that enable organizations to work smarter.
High-growth areas include interactive content, such as charts, images and videos, and open text to hold that information. Added to that is the ability to integrate these documents with external content using live feeds and more robust levels of security. Content management tools, text generation, electronic signatures, document understanding and enterprise search have also seen innovation and increasing use.
Digging deeper into content management, enterprise systems have evolved into content service providers, as information assets can now be delivered as “services” by third-party software for use within organizations, such as process and case management workflows to regulatory and compliance departments.
Participants in adjacent tool segments like collaboration, task management and data visualization are exploring embedding elements of documents into their offerings or establishing partnerships. Tools like Slack and ClickUp, which allow users to share documents with their chat and scheduling interfaces, have started incorporating document collaboration, and task management solution Jira now offers document creation and collaboration through its Confluence platform, provided by parent company Atlassian. Document workflow solutions are also starting to incorporate these new functionalities.
Vendors are introducing document features, while document players such as Notion and Monday are introducing collaboration. Further new technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, blockchain, robotic process automation (RPA), and cloud storage, have become catalysts of structural change in the way documents are created and managed, enabling an expanded scope of workflow automation.
AI and machine learning technology, especially natural language processing (NLP), are changing how documents are made. Type-ahead suggestions and translation capabilities are now commonplace, and as sentiment analysis and AI text-generation capabilities continue to improve, more documents will be generated with AI having a significant role.
Blockchain is being increasingly used to identify and authenticate documents and preserve context across distributed networks. A key benefit of the technology is its ability to validate digital documents for use cases like securing contracts and credentialing.
RPA allows users to automatically extract data from documents and is becoming regularly used for rote activities like invoice processing and account configuration. Documents will need to be created in structured formats that allow for this automation.
The proliferation of cloud storage and its document management capabilities has led to documents being more readily available within an organization, wherever its people are located, and easily distributed outside it. This has resulted in greater collaboration across companies, both offline and in real time. As a result, document creation tools have been forced to adapt to provide solutions for easily shared and editable documents.
Many other factors, including data security, personal data privacy regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation in Europe, industry-specific regulations and hybrid working, will reshape the future of documents by increasing the need for more secure data exchange processes, industry protocols and frameworks, as well as better privacy controls.