Marketing buzz in the technology space often focuses on the latest, greatest, shiniest piece of tech. This is understandable: it seems like new technologies spring up every day, and there’s always something new to talk about. Many “innovative” tech tools don’t ultimately find a sustainable place in a competitive market, but that’s almost incidental to the proselytizing of new tech as an end in and of itself. The downside of this trend is a loss of focus on the nuts-and-bolts, everyday tech tools that power successful companies, but are not as big a part of the hype cycle.
AI, machine learning, blockchain; these types of tech are new, intriguing, and the subject of much public debate. They are the shiny toys, the stuff of thinkpieces and aggressive marketing campaigns. But problems arise when firms and corporations ask tech companies and consultancies to “use AI,” “use machine learning,” or put their organization’s documents “on the blockchain”. What do you want the AI or the ML to do, though? Where are those documents you want organized “on the blockchain”? All too often, firms and corporations still can’t satisfactorily answer those questions. They’re putting the cart before the horse.
Document Management Systems (DMS), meanwhile, receive slightly less market hype, but are much more integral to the foundations of a company’s IT efforts. Document management is more quietly successful, largely because of its comparative age and ubiquity relative to those aforementioned technologies. Like the invention of the printing press, the initial innovation is lauded and forever remembered, and everything that happens after becomes normal business as usual. We hardly think about all the books now in existence that never would have been published without the printing press. Similarly, most of us don’t expend too much mental energy considering how and why our email accounts work the way they do. We store, search, retrieve, and either manually or automatically organize thousands and thousands of emails, all via slick applications like Google Gmail or Microsoft Outlook, and we don’t give the underlying processes much thought.
What are Document Management Systems?
Email is, in fact, a basic form of a document management system (DMS). A DMS is a computerized system that tracks, stores, and retrieves electronic documents (in some cases, they even help organize analog documents as well). Your personal email account is a simple example of a DMS, albeit one with limited enterprise potential: usually, only you have access to your email inbox and all of the documents therein.
Google Docs is a newer invention than email, but provides a stripped-down example of a more full-service DMS. Any authorized user can drop documents into a system, run searches, and extract information they need. System administrators can take charge of organizing the documents in the system any way they need to. Everyone has access to documents, and processes become more transparent. A DMS thus opens the door to organizing all documents that may be relevant to a matter or project, centralizing and standardizing all necessary data. An enterprise-level DMS can also help contribute to a consistent data strategy, and is also a powerful force cutting down on resource waste and redundancy.
There are thousands of technology tools out there, all of which are unique in their style and in the services they deliver. The 21st century amounts to nothing short of a digital renaissance. But there are several major hurdles in the information age. One such hurdle revolves around the problem of software integration.
Individual software tools are usually not inherently designed to integrate with other tools. At the same time, not even Google has an app that meets everyone’s needs, all of the time. In fact, the relatively smooth integration within suites like Microsoft Office and Google is a major reason why those applications remain so popular. There is even some integrated functionality between Microsoft and Google Docs, which is why, for example, we can fairly seamlessly transform
.docx files into shareable entities, all the while allowing for re-conversion to
.docx again down the road. This example is still somewhat more of an exception than a rule, though. The market is filled with successful software tools whose main purpose is to compress or convert file formats into other formats.
Desire for greater integration of a firm’s DMS – such as iManage, MS SharePoint, NetDocuments, FileShare, Box – is growing. Integration of ContraxSuite with some of these more commonly used document management systems is a logical next step for a market clamoring for commonsense, robust technology tools that work alongside pre-existing document management systems.
Next week, we will delve into the details of what a DMS can do with ContraxSuite integrated into its functionality. We will discuss the specific example of finding and extracting settlement amounts from employment agreements. Stay tuned.
LexPredict is an enterprise legal technology and consulting firm. Our consulting teams specialize in legal analytics, legal data science and training, risk management, and legal data strategy consulting. We work with corporate legal departments and law firms to empower better organizational decision-making by improving processes, technology, and the ways people interact with both. We develop software and data tools, and also offer execution and education services.
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