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IDC report suggests paperless offices remain an elusive dream

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A new report from IDC confirms Australian businesses are producing more hardcopies today than five years ago, reinforcing that years after talks of paperless offices began, the concept remains an elusive dream.

The report titled Document management solutions: What end users want, studied Australian businesses' perspectives of document management solutions and showed that 60% of respondents indicated that the number of pages printed or copied in their organisations had increased when compared to five years ago.

"The many forms of content that can be produced and reproduced continue to grow as does business use of PCs and printers. Also, although the unplanned manner in which majority of organisations tend to handle their documents cannot be denied, end users typically do not associate a high level of complexity with managing paper/digital documents.

“This makes businesses less inclined to investigate the potential benefits that can be achieved from adopting a systematic approach to document management," said Rishi Ghai, Program Manager, ANZ Hardcopy Peripheral Research.

"However, competitive pressures and the ever-increasing complexity of operations are driving the need to streamline information organisation, encompassing a range of processes and workflows, including document management," continued Ghai.

IDC says it is reasonable to assume that the increasing influx of local and international compliance regulations will urge organisations to progressively tighten control over their information and corporate intellectual property (IP).

The gap between document management requirements and actual document management solution deployments raises the need to identify adoption restraints in the Australia market.

IDC identifies the following drivers and inhibitors that influence organisations' decisions to invest in comprehensive paper/digital document management solutions:

Though document management is not new to most, the percentage of respondents who indicated a comprehensive understanding of it remains a minority (41%). Research results underline the need for document management solution providers to take a step back and focus their marketing efforts on educating the market.

Organisations of all sizes and in all verticals do not associate high levels of complexity with managing paper/digital documents. This impression amplifies the challenge to demonstrate the value and benefits that can be achieved from adopting a systematic approach to document management.

Systematic archiving, storage, or distribution of/access to documents was the number one criterion for investing in document management solutions, followed by easier management of high paperwork volumes and to increase document workflow and process efficiency.

IDC research suggests that end users' discontentment with document management solution implementations can escalate very quickly in the absence of visible improvements in the short term.

Vendors must work closely with clients to develop realistic service-level agreements (SLAs) and periodically measure and communicate systems performance indicators to avoid dissatisfaction buildup.

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