Starting in the late 1980s, many software companies emerged with a new document management technology as part of a document management system. These systems were originally developed to manage documents primarily for businesses to keep track of electronic files and other important information that needed to be stored centrally for legal or other purposes. The initial focus for document management systems was on accounting/financial and legal data, because having a traceable record of the information and who accessed it is an important part of data management in an electronic world. As these DMSs matured, software companies introduced new capabilities and additional functionality that went beyond document storage and retrieval. These new capabilities included security/access, auditing, workflow, distribution and collaboration.

Over the past five years, driven by these additional capabilities, uses for a DMS have seen some dramatic changes. While we continue to see important documents and files getting stored and accessed in traditional document management systems, we now see a much wider spectrum of information and data being managed by these systems. This new data includes information that is resident in spreadsheets, reporting data, supply chain data and other operational data that needs to be shared across the business. This new use of the traditional DMS – for the storing, distribution and exchange of information – is triggering a paradigm shift in document management technology.

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