The Perfect Flow: Mapping the New Information Supply Chain

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As the world goes digital, another business goal is to create a paperless supply chain, according to Brian Reed, VP of global marketing at FormScape, a company that provides document management solutions. And while document management is considered to be just one piece of content management, its value should not be underestimated. "Our business—and the world—floats on information," Reed says. "There's a huge amount of it that is in structured systems, but also a lot of it that remains in unstructured formats. A lot of it lives in both the print and electronic world. Most people are just trying to find ways to capture, manage, store, track, and distribute information more efficiently."

Yet however much a company might want to go entirely paperless, much of the world still depends on paper, including distribution, transportation, and manufacturing companies. "These are supply-chain oriented businesses in and of themselves that have paper documents that run through the supply chain. So what we do is help companies grapple with what information needs to be on paper, and also to help get that paper into electronic form.

"There's a whole ecosystem of very large businesses that rely on very small businesses as their suppliers or their service people," he continues. "And all of these smaller businesses live on paper. So the goal is to help those big businesses become more efficient regardless."

While companies depend upon technology and appreciate the Web's advances, Reed points out that many businesses aren't exactly tech-savvy. "It's amazing the number of companies that have very few, if any, computers. It's astounding." The government is one such area that is slowly going digital. "We just recently engaged the largest deal in our company's history to implement an egovernment initiative in the U.K." Reed says. The multi-million dollar project, estimated to take approximately three years to complete, will enable the U.K. court system to become completely electronic. "Their goal is to be able to have a system where they can track everything electronically," including electronic forms, digital storage, and print on demand.

As organizations recognize the need to get a better handle on information, they are also examining their strategies for having the capabilities to create it, access it, and keep it flowing. Hale of Interwoven—a company whose acquisitions and mergers demonstrate the trend—sums it up. "This networker supply chain is a mega-trend, and there's a lot of fuel going into this."


Companies Featured in This Article
FormScape www.formscape.com
Interwoven, Inc. www.interwoven.com
Smartwebs www.smartwebs.com
Stellent www.stellent.com

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