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An alternative to storing data on reams of paper

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Companies have been adopting DMS to promote not just Green IT but also to boost productivity and efficiency. Packaged solutions tailor made to suit their requirements, lower operating costs and quick RoI are the catch phrases here. By Pupul Dutta

There was a time when offices were full of heaps of paper with oil stained files occupying the maximum space in any given room. Today, with digitization and more recently the advent of solutions that can manage not only your important documents but also offer end-to-end workflows, the market has seen a boom in the number and variety of offerings that replace paper.

Document Management Solution or DMS involves the consolidation of paper documents in any organization, at least in the Indian context of its meaning. However, the service has more to it than just managing paper records.

It offers end-to-end information management for large enterprises and sometimes for many mid-sized enterprises too. For most companies, DMS adoption is led by the fact that it lessens or, in a few cases, obliterates the use of paper in an organization.

DMS falls under multiple categories: software for document management, physical storage services, Cloud storage solutions and digitization services. Besides the standalone services, there are firms providing end-to-end solutions including physical storage, digitization and online (Cloud based) access.

The market for DMS is being driven due to three main reasons namely automation, virtualization and integration. Also, the consistent need to share information, collaborate etc. for effective organizational functions is fueling growth globally.

Additionally, there is also an increase in demand from businesses to cut costs and gain a competitive edge through better management and sharing of information, documents and resources.

Last year, DMS witnessed double digit growth with telecom, regulatory bodies, BFSI and retail providing the impetus. According to industry sources, the sector grew about 20% year-on-year (YoY).

Besides telecom, PSU banks are starting to adopt this technology. Last year, saw some important technology trends like open software prevailing in the marketplace for better compatibility with ERP systems.

Experts believe that 2012 will usher in a new dawn with UIDAI acting as the catalyst in the growth of DMS.

Year that was

IDC states that the collaboration market in India is growing at 20% YoY and that document management is one of the work streams under the collaboration workload.

Most industry experts are of the view that last year was a bit sluggish given the slowdown and the rupee depreciation. However, the industry still managed double digit growth overcoming these hurdles.

The need for automation is a factor that continues to drive adoption across verticals. Various economic factors and the changing regulatory climate in the country have also contributed to increased awareness and adoption in India in the past few years.

“Last year a majority of the DMS projects were carried forward from the year before. There were not many new assignments though there was some excitement when industries like telecom and RBI (Reserve Bank of India) started insisting on reverification of customers. This led to an increase in records that had to be reverified and managed and, hence, gave a boost to the technology,” explained Sudev Muthaya, President IT – Business, CMS Infosystems.

There were also some major contracts that companies received from the government as well as the private sector. To name a few, the High Court of Karnataka opted for Microsoft’s SharePoint that helped the court develop a system to publish all judgments integrating search capabilities across various criterion such as case number, petitioner etc. At the same time, NIC developed a document management system for Karnataka’s Sachivalaya, an e-file management solution to be deployed across departments of the Karnataka government.

Insurers and ITES companies continued to lead the growth in this sector with more companies climbing on the bandwagon. Explaining the momentum, Vivek Pai, Country Manager, Alfresco, said, “India, has been experiencing strong double digit growth for the past couple of years. In fact, we expect the momentum to build up from now till 2014. There has been a lot of traction in both private as well as public sector and government.”

Sectors driving growth

According to Gartner, DMS will continue to be driven by insurance companies and the financial sector. “Despite the security issues and the apprehensiveness of the companies, we would see major traction from banks, insurance companies and retail,” said Amrita Choudhury, Principal Analyst Gartner.

Besides the two prominent sectors, DMS will also see a substantial chunk of business coming from shared service centers (SSC) or BPOs and telecom and regulatory bodies.

“India has been a hub for BPOs and this has come as a natural advantage for us. We have strategic tie-ups with many large BPOs who use our ECM product and are building vertical-specific platforms on top of our products to service their customers. Of late, BPO has been emerging as one of the big revenue streams for DMS vendors,” said Anand Raman, Vice President – Marketing, Newgen Software Technologies Limited.

Sanjay Manchanda, Director – Business Division, Microsoft India, said, “ITES, engineering and manufacturing and companies that have to work in compliance with the government and regulatory bodies will be geared to adopt DMS.”

IT companies have to evaluate usage for consolidating and processing project data management, knowledge management, employee records, performance appraisal systems etc. and for this DMS comes in handy. Similarly, in an engineering or manufacturing company, the evaluation of the e-tender process and project management consolidating all documents associated such as drawings, tender responses, etc. needs to be done.

V Balakrishnan – Vice President (National Marketing), Ricoh India said that medium enterprises were emerging as big adopters of DMS.

Software and interoperability issues

Given the newness of the technology and the issues thereafter, DMS has faced initial glitches that continue to haunt it in terms of compatibility with ERP solutions. Though there has been development of open source software yet interoperability with enterprise applications remains an unsolved problem.

“Customers today expect greater agility and additional productivity along with integration on multiple platforms,” commented Ricoh’s Balakrishnan.

Talking about the problem, Bhaskar Joshi, Marketing Manager, Canon India, said, “The issue of interoperability has been resolved to a certain degree since no enterprise is willing to be dependent on one particular software solution. Going forward, it will be more of open source software so that it is compatible with any ERP software or workflow system.”

There were also issues of managing content on a large scale, securing it, archiving it and allowing it to be searched, which have been resolved at some level by enterprises. Joshi added, “The data archival and retrieval issue too has been resolved to an extent. The problem had been at various levels and has been dealt with accordingly. Presently, most companies demand integration of DMS with the workflow. With such a set up, DMS becomes more of a back-end solution while workflow comes to the fore.”

With DMS, the entire process of clearing a payment in, say, a financial organization would be linked to the solution and automated.

“Interoperability has not been resolved completely but it’s not that challenging anymore. One can operate with different ERP systems with little effort,” said Sunil Bhave, Vice President, Fujitsu Consulting India.

Trends 2012

Trends in DMS for this year are expected to be more or less the same as those that were prevalent last year with the Cloud and social media ruling the sector. Also, the integration of desktop productivity tools or workflow with DMS is expected to happen.

“Integration of the DMS with desktop productivity tools, ease of use, offline availability and support on multiple devices will be key drivers. Businesses are also expected to evaluate integration with presence and instant messaging functionality within documents that enables people to collaborate on documents instantly,” said Manchanda of Microsoft.

As data volumes are constantly going up, people are evaluating an improved search experience. Microsoft’s fast search for SharePoint is one example.

Another trend that experts expect would pick up exponentially this year is that of BYOD. With this, DMS solutions would be expected to work seamlessly across the PC, phone and browser enhancing productivity in the process.

Pai of Alfresco explained, “Today 66% of the workforce are on the move given their job responsibilities making it imperative for companies to develop solutions that would help them access data from anywhere, anytime.”

Further, various government rules and regulations are expected to dictate the development of various capabilities in DMS.

Stringent compliance would require a continual improvement in security methods, reporting tools and content retaining and archiving. Experts believe that there would be an increased pressure to showcase ROI and measurable business benefits where the convergence of DMS and BPM would play a bigger role.

“Business users too would take more charge of content and demand agility so as to respond to changing business needs faster. This would put corresponding demands on DMS applications to provide better support for analytics,” said Choudhury of Gartner.

Innovation around applications are expected as companies would want a greater variety of apps to exploit. “Providing VAS along with DMS will rule the market,” said Bhave of Fujitsu.

Predictions for 2012

As awareness about DMS increases and solutions become simpler and Cloud-based, more and more companies and individuals would be interested in such solutions. Currently, there is a huge gap between the under-served and unaware SMEs wherein the smaller companies either can’t afford to buy software or would prefer a service-based model for the same. With better awareness, growth is expected to be higher.

Bigger enterprises on the other hand are evaluating DMS solutions on their ability to integrate digital signatures and making the document more secure.

Creating workflows for approvals and business processes would further boost the growth especially where approvals can lead to important business deals/revenues for examples loan application processing, RFP reviews and so on. Also, allowing multiple users to co-author and work simultaneously on documents would change the way that DMS is perceived.

However, it is also important to stay compliant to the rules by integrating audit tracking, secure access to documents using rights management and apply retention and archival policies to comply with legal and regulation needs, explained Gartner.

“We also expect businesses to integrate metadata as the volume of data increases in the next five to ten years and deliver a better search experience as these data stores start scaling,” said Manchanda of Microsoft.

Moreover, with the ongoing ‘green’ revolution, businesses are also extending IT beyond the intranet and taking it to the next level of extending it to customers and partners. Banks, insurance, telco and credit card companies have chosen to offer e-Statement options and adopt the first step to Go Green.

Tech effect

With the emergence of new innovative technologies the demand for product enhancement in terms of capabilities and features is expected to go up considerably. To sustain in the market, the vendors will have to come up with content support management applications on the iPad and smartphones. Strong analytics are required in order to provide leading indicators for real-time decision making.

“The effect of all the evolving technologies will be the emergence of new applications that would cater to the increased demand for example adoption of Web 2.0 and mobile technologies as they evolve. Also, product extension around RFID for physical tracking of documents is expected to emerge,” said Raman of Newgen.

The acceptability of solutions will be much higher and all of the emerging technologies would enable people to be more productive as long as these technologies support and compliment the way people are used to work.

Challenges

As is the case with any IT project implementation, the RoI question pops up its head in DMS’ case too. Usually, DMS vendors claim that RoI on their implementations is quick. However, experts believe that once the proper framework is in place, customers can expect to reduce operating expenses by optimizing business processes, document lifecycle and print output strategies.

Pai of Alfresco felt that there were not many large scale implementation of projects as people were yet to open up to the idea of DMS. “The project completion time is being reduced by most companies posing a challenge for service providers,” he said.

Moreover, given the sluggishness of the Indian economy that is expected to continue in the first quarter of 2012, there could be less investment in management solutions by CIOs.

Scalability of solutions is another challenge that most service providers are trying to deal with and also how quickly can they develop applications is a question no one can answer yet.

Moving on

Though DMS has been present for more than a couple of years, yet acceptability of the solution is still an issue. It is believed that initially it will be driven by regulatory and compliance modules and as the awareness grows, the number of takers for such solutions will move up exponentially.

UIDAI is expected to drive the biggest chunk of business given the vast database and records.

SaaS is expected to emerge as an alternate delivery model. The ability to tailor the offering and integrate with on-premise applications would be a key differentiator in DMS. Enterprises will also expand the Enterprise Content Management (ECM) systems to cover the acquisition of additional types of content that are being generated. Solutions to facilitate automatic acquisition and classification of content from social media, business systems and print documents will emerge. DMS vendors will have to focus to enhance the products to deliver quick, cost-effective and viable solutions in order to compete in the market.

Customers would also expect their vendors to manage risks that are associated with loss or unavailability of paper at the same time improving productivity consistently.

Lastly, centralized processing leading to lower costs or transactions is what would rule the thoughts of CIOs before they opt for DMS.

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