Designing a Document Strategy
Kevin Craine, MBA, recently published Designing a Document Strategy, a book describing the design process relating to traditional print and digital publishing. The following chapter, entitled "The Co-Existence of Digital and Paper Documents," is an excerpt about the history and future of print publishing:
Forward-looking organizations must tackle the co-existence of digital and paper documents if for no other reason than the current exponential growth of information. More information has been produced in the last 30 years than in the previous 5,000—the entire history of civilization. What's more, that body of information is expected to double in less than five years. With more than 90 percent of corporate information contained in documents, it is clear that whatever the medium, pixels or paper, documents are the currency of the post-20th century Information Age. Information: You've got to be able to find it; you've got to be able to use it; and you've got to be able to keep it. Documents allow us to do all these things.
For most organizations in the Information Age, documents compose much, if not all, of the product they sell or the service they provide. A health insurance company, for example, does not provide diagnosis or treatment, only information about what doctor is available, what coverage is provided and what claims have been paid. For companies such as this, documents are the product—the only tangible evidence of the service provided.
Documents are also the keeper of corporate knowledge and the repository of corporate history. Whether printed on paper or displayed on a computer screen, documents are the tools that run a business everyday. They prompt customers to buy and workers to work, and are the beginning and end of corporate workflow.
Using documents strategically means using information strategically
If firms are not effective in managing both digital and paper documents they will be less able to face competitive pressures and changing markets. Companies must have information agility in order to effectively react to dynamic change in their marketplace. Traditionally, change in the marketplace was somewhat predictable; business increased or decreased in a reasonably linear pattern and competitors entered or exited the market in a relatively logical and predictable fashion. Today, however, the economic, technological and societal factors that influence change are moving simultaneously and unpredictably. A document strategy ensures that an organization can find, use and keep information with agility and effectiveness.