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Friday, July 13, 2012

Facts about document organization and search - the Paperless Project

I recently came across an initiative called The Paperless Project.  The name is self-explanatory, but the initiative is driven by companies who want to help organizations improve content and document management and move enterprise information to electronic formats.

The Paperless Project has a page on its website with some facts about paper use in the U.S. and worldwide. (http://www.thepaperlessproject.com/facts.html). Some of the interesting facts as it relates to taxonomies and document tagging with some of my comments about why this makes taxonomies critical to information management.

Fact:  Almost 80% of today's information is still paper based

Why Taxonomy is Critical:   This is certain to decrease over time as our society becomes increasingly digital. Of course, that is the goal of the Paperless Project.  Interesting for taxonomy because as more information becomes digital (scanning this paper information, for example), taxonomies become critical to ensure that digital versions can be found.

Fact:  U.S. managers spend an average of 4 weeks a year searching for or waiting on misfiled, mislabelled, untracked, or ‘lost’ papers".  Each misfiled document costs $125.

Why Taxonomy is Critical:   Not being able to find information is costly. This is true of physical information and it is also true of digital information.   Placing your corporate documents into a messy shared drive with confusing nested folders or just throwing them into a disorganized SharePoint Library is expensive.  Taxonomies your digital file structure.  Organize and tag electronic documents so that time spent searching is decreased.

Fact:  67% of data loss is directly related to user blunders, making them 30 times more menacing than viruses and the leading cause of data loss.

Why Taxonomy is Critical:  Users making blunders with paper documents will likely make blunders with electronic documents as well.  This is a strong argument for automating the document tagging process so that you can control how tags are applied to documents and make sure tagging occurs in a consistent fashion.  If you rely on users to manually tag, you will get incomplete, inconsistent, and inaccurate tagging.

Fact:  We are approaching 4 trillion documents being stored by businesses and government agencies.

Why Taxonomy is Critical:  Huge amounts of content require an organizational structure.  A single document out of thousands is a needle in a haystack and keyword based search has been insufficient.  Invest in a taxonomy that will scale to accommodate continued growth in electronic content.

Overall, the Paperless Project facts show that the expense of paper based information is substantial. Companies need to make this information digital. But simply making it digital does not necessarily solve the problem; instead, it may just shift the expenses.   Taxonomy and tagging is a critical component to making sure that making information digital truly leads to productivity benefits and cost savings for an organization.

WAND provides taxonomies off the shelf covering nearly every industry and business function as well as automatic tagging capabilities to jump start an electronic document organization initiative.   

Thanks to the Paperless Project for its great research.