File Sharing vs eDocs Management
In the past 10 years, a surge of file sharing and cloud services like Dropbox, Hightail, Box, iCloud, ShareFile have made their appearance in the market and grown in popularity. Our industry is now trapped in a comparison between file sharing services and eDocs management.
File sharing services want to make money on storage and do not operate at the document management level. For example, such services do not have a destruction review process after 7 years for legal files. Moreover, they are limited in size and will manage disk space without warning. If an account is running low on space, old versions might automatically be deleted!
Briefly put, file sharing services serve two purposes: backing up information and sharing voluminous files easily.
So if you have a customer that only wants to store eDocs, you need to know when a file sharing service is more appropriate than ActiveWeb. Your customer most probably doesn’t need the management ability of ActiveWeb to store family images and music files.
Images vs eDocs
An image is a scanned version of a paper document. They are difficult to index, either by hand or Optical Character Recognition (OCR).
The quality of an image depends on the scanner and the scanning software. Meanwhile, the quality of the indexing depends on the person who added and classified the keywords. If you rely solely on OCR, you will soon find out it is far from perfect.
An eDoc is an original document (e.g. a Word file, an Excel file.) When you store an eDoc in a document management system it is saved along with its modifications. eDocs are much easier to index because the system extracts the text from the document directly. Since there is no OCR process involved, full-text search results only give direct matches, without OCR related errors.
Although a PDF file is very standardized, it is also very flexible. Since it can be a document, an image, or a hybrid, it may cause some issues. When it is an image, you cannot select text directly and it will require OCR to be indexed. On the other hand, if it was an electronic document saved as a PDF (i.e. a Word file) the full text of the document will be indexed.
Take note that a high-end scanning software can scan an image, save it as a PDF and perform good OCR to embed the text into it. In this case, you end up with a PDF that has both the scanned images and the text of the image.