Managing Documents And Workflow

What Forces are Driving Document Technologies?

Information needs to flow across the enterprise,not just to a few select areas. As vendors modify their products to support informationdissemination, the true challenge will be to create document technologies that support andpromote collaboration across disparate systems and groups within and outside theorganization.

A recent study prepared for AIIM International (Silver Spring, Md.) by InternationalData Corporation (IDC; Framingham, Mass.) revealed that total revenue for suppliers ofhardware, software, maintenance and services used for automating document information isexpected to grow from $13.9 billion in 1998 to more than $33 billion by 2002 (see Table1). This represents a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19.4 percent.

The market for document technologies is dominated by document management and workflowsegments. Document Management is expected to see the strongest growth over the forecastperiod -- it's expected to more than triple from nearly $3 billion in 1998 to over $9.5billion in 2002 (see Table 2). The use of the Internet or corporate intranet as a documentrepository is the primary fuel driving the spurt.

Over the past two years, document management has been established as the definingconcept for document technologies suppliers and customers. As a result, most of theintegration of functional capabilities across these markets is taking place within adocument management framework. The workflow market, on the other hand, is expectingsignificant changes along divergent paths.

Table 1: Total Document Technologies Vendor Revenues, 1998-2002 (US $ M)
1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 CAGR
$13,901 $17,754 $22,386 $27,638 $33,669 19.4%

Table 2: Document Management and Workflow Growth, 1998-2002 (US $ M)
  1998 1999 2000 2001 2002
Document $2,979 $4,057 $5,498 $7,271 $9,560
Workflow $2,850 $3,775 $4,955 $6,125 $7,231

Flowing Into The Mainstream

On one hand, it is becoming a messaging and Web-enabled enterprise applicationsframework that can easily and economically be deployed to everyone in an organization. Onthe production side, workflow is becoming a core attribute of many packaged applicationssolutions from vendors like SAP, PeopleSoft, Oracle, Microsoft, Lotus and Netscape.

The mainstreaming of workflow by this class of supplier is both a threat andopportunity to the dedicated workflow provider. The new players will expand the market,ease the integration problem for customers and provide incremental OEM revenueopportunities as they push their capabilities beyond just enhancing their other productlines.

The threat is that all of these players are capable of building their own workflow andin fact, some including Oracle, SAP and PeopleSoft already have. Therefore, thisrepresents a significant challenge if existing players do not aggressively pursue marketand development relationships with these vendors.

The Internet, Integration And The Enterprise

Several key trends are expected to fuel the growth of the document technologies market.

Growth of the Internet. Taking advantage of the Internet has been the overwhelmingtheme for IT providers in the 1990s. The Web has fundamentally changed the documenttechnologies market as the client-side economics of deploying the technologies tothousands of users has dramatically improved. In addition, the Web plays a vital role as amedium for distributing document-based information. As a result, it's become a majorcatalyst for new customers to gain a competitive advantage through the deployment ofenterprise document distribution environments and a motivating factor for existingcustomers to upgrade their document technology infrastructures.

Integration between document technology systems. Convergence has been reshaping thedocument technologies market over the past three years. Increasingly, suppliers aredeveloping integrated product suites that provide any combination of document management,imaging, workflow, retrieval, computer output to laser disk (COLD) and film-based imagingcapabilities -- to the point that IDC and AIIM believe that integrated systems will becomethe de facto approach by the turn of the century.

This is a major market force because the suite approach's lower cost of ownership,rapid deployment, integration facilities, easier training, maintenance and supportrequirements is very attractive to customers.

Enterprise-wide deployment. "Enterprise" is a term that has been used forseveral years by suppliers of the technologies, however, there is no standard definitionof an enterprise system. For the purpose of establishing a research definition, IDC uses aratio of 75 percent or more total employees using the document technology system to definean enterprise. Document management and workflow both posted strong numbers for accountpenetration at 18 percent and 13 percent respectively.

Customers have deployed document management enterprise-wide more frequently thanworkflow. Workflow systems are expanding at a slightly less aggressive rate, however, thegrowth of enterprise workflow capabilities being delivered on messaging and Webinfrastructures will drive strong growth in this area over the next five years.

Document management and workflow may be at the core of document technologies growth,but it's important to note that there are several other segments of the industry providinggrowth as well. They include document imaging, COLD, full text retrieval and film-basedimaging. These are the technologies we acknowledge now. This industry is changing sorapidly that we should all stay tuned for the next round of future document technology.

--Priscilla Emery is senior vice president Information Products & Services forAIIM International. To obtain a copy of the study, "State of the DocumentTechnologies Market, 1996-2002," contact AIIM at 301-587-8202.


Document management helps users organize data, distribute documents and manage the flow of information among users or across an organization. For example, Minnetonka, Minn.-based Chronimed Inc. develops, markets and distributes pharmaceuticals, medical products and other specialized services for people with long-term conditions such as diabetes, HIV/AIDS and organ transplants.

Chronimed handles billing to insurance companies and coordinates benefits from multiple payers. With revenues exceeding $120 million, Chronimed's accurate and timely insurance billing is an integral part of its business model and one of the company's biggest competitive advantages. A careful assessment of the company's internal procedures and claims handling processes revealed the need for a more efficient document management strategy. Implementing a document management system has reduced time spent processing documents by 70 percent and enabled all of Chronimed's 300 employees to view these intranet-based documents at any time. In addition, Chronimed can now issue invoices to insurance companies at an increased rate, reducing by 30 percent the time it takes Chronimed to be paid by insurance companies.

Working On Workflow

Workflow is the complete or partial automation of a business process during which documents, information or tasks are passed from one participant to another for action, according to a set of procedural rules.

For example, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) has embraced workflow to address its business process. To date, case processing at the PTO has been mostly a manual process involving large, bulky paper-based files. As of January 1998, the PTO began process-centered workflow in its Patent Appeals and Interference Board (PAIB). PTO's initial workflow application is called the Appeals Case Tracking System (ACTS). ACTS has been running since late January and appeals cases are being added at the rate of 300 to 500 per month. More than 3,300 patent decisions were appealed last year.

Under ACTS, the Appeals Board will be able to add another 700 cases this year, with greater gains in the future as staff become more familiar with the system. Implementing a workflow application allows the Appeals Board to handle a greater number of appeals in less time and provides them with a full suite of reports, cleaner data and a better feel for the workload, allowing them to make better predictions for staffing.- KD