Today's file-management systems are underpowered and have not caught up with advances in digital documents, which is why more companies are turning to document-management systems to help them.
That is the conclusion of a new report from London-based Ovum, which says that document-management systems are especially important for companies which are beginning to publish compound electronic documents over the World Wide Web.
The systems manage changes in documents and enable users to find documents without having to know their location. They can also help companies benefit from compound documents, by enforcing referential integrity between the individual component documents and the main container. This is important, for example, when managing HTML documents for publishing over the Web, says Heather Stark, lead author of the Ovum report.
"Many organisations are uncertain about the choice between using document management, Lotus Notes, or Web servers," says Stark. "The choice is confusing because these solutions compete with one another but can also be complementary."
Ovum predicts that the most dramatic uptake of document management will happen via the back door, with features being bundled in other products, such as the document management functions in Novell's Groupwise product.
The report predicts that 70% of PC users will have access to a document-management system by 2001, but only 7% will be using a system that has been paid for separately. The result of this, says Stark, is that the specialist document management companies will be unable to achieve the right volumes to allow them to reduce the price per seat to below US$150.
Indirect competition from Microsoft, she says, will polarise the market as the company delivers better management of documents through upgrades to its application and system software. "Microsoft will provide some document-management services 'free with NT' and embedded in applications. But this should not deter buyers with advanced needs from investigating document management products," says Stark. "Microsoft has no stated plans to provide either location transparency or referential integrity for compound documents -- both of these functions are important for well-engineered solutions."
The report evaluates eight leading products, assessing how well they meet eight fundamental requirements: organizing documents and document components, controlling documents, finding documents, managing work on documents, publishing, development, deployment, and globalisation.
"Most document management systems are very weak at supporting multilingual installations," says Stark. "Organisations with global needs will need to be particularly careful about their choice of product." The eight systems examined are: Documentum 3.0, from Documentum; RDM 2.6, from Interleaf; LiveLink 4.0, from OpenText; Lotus Notes Release 4, from Lotus; Mezzanine 3.5, from Saros (now FileNet); SoftSolutions 4.1, from Novell; Docs Open 3, from PC Docs; onGO DMS 2, from Uniplex.