For those of us in the small business community, 2014 is shaping up to be a great year. Of course there are quite a few interesting technologies that will come within our grasp but a few of them will span industries, creating opportunities to improve business processes and streamline crucial workflows. Specifically, a few key trends will further materialize in the document management space and change how forward thinking businesses interact with their content.
With cloud-based document storage systems available at low cost, and scanners costing as little as $100, there are compelling reasons to go digital with your documents in 2014. It’s likely you already have the hardware to make the leap and once set up, you’ll have satisfied critical security needs, organized your documents in an easily searchable format, and you’ll have access to your content wherever you are via the web.
Documents you already receive via email or online can be easily stored in these systems so that there is just one place for all your documents – whether its invoices, sales receipts, supplier orders, insurance claims or tax records. When necessary, those documents can be easily forwarded to your employees, partners, accountant, lawyer, government agencies, or suppliers from virtually anywhere. As businesses progress along with technology, that content we rely on has become increasingly diversified. However, as long as a file is in digital format, it can be stored in the cloud. Photos, MS Office documents, PDFs, scanned documents, digital faxes and scanned faxes can all live in that one environment.
Many of the new cloud-based storage systems are based on improving HTML5 technology that enables you to view your documents via a web browser that could be running on your laptop, tablet or even your smartphone. In addition to efficiency and productivity gains, this can also reduce some of the BYOD burden on IT. Whether or not you have a dedicated IT staff, this will undoubtedly be a welcome relief.
Another advantage of these document viewers enabled by the HTML5 movement is that they use the browser itself as the single-point solution for viewing, manipulating, annotating and printing documents of various types. No longer do you need to worry about whether or not everyone has the latest version of Adobe installed on their device. Plus, device issues spurred by BYOD will be alleviated. As long as the device can connect to the internet and open a browser, you can access and manage your documents. Your hardware and software costs will be minimal, and you won’t need an expensive systems integrator or software better suited to large corporations.
Security is also a hot button issue in relation to business documents, as it should be. Customers, vendors, partners and employees all put their trust in your ability to keep their information safe. Once eroded, that trust can become almost impossible to regain. The good news is that the cloud has matured to a point where there are numerous vendors, including companies with great reputations like Amazon, Google, and others, that provide file storage services with various degrees of sophistication. When selecting a vendor, keep in mind their history of access security, backup regularity, reliability and financial security. If you’re new to the game, simply look up customer reviews online and see which vendor meets your qualifications and budget. If you adopt a belt and suspenders approach, you could do your own backup as well. With 3 Terabyte portable hard drives costing around $100, you should be able to backup all of your documents on these devices and then lock them up. They also come with built-in encryption to further secure your data.
For most small businesses, documents are the lifeblood of the organization but often a thorn in its side. This year, the price of document storage systems and their capabilities will intersect at a sweet spot that will enable smaller organizations to operate at a previously unattainable level of efficiency while simultaneously making strides in security and mobility, two areas most organizations are always looking to improve. Larger enterprises have been the proving ground, but 2014 is the year for SMBs to reap the rewards.