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Re-think your PDF solution

Many would agree that the technology industry is an exciting place to be. There’s innovation aplenty and a steady stream of solutions that have been designed to make life easier, more efficient and more entertaining. But the spotlight on the tech industry’s super brands and high-profile products often casts a shadow over some of the more prosaic tech solutions we often take for granted on a daily basis. As such, we can fall into the trap of using the same product over again, without giving much thought as to whether there are better alternatives available.

One such example is the trusty PDF. Given how long the format has been around, you’d think that by now it would be on everyone’s desk. However, although PDF was conceived as a universal document format, for reasons like complex licensing agreements and high costs, not all organisations were able to make it available on every desktop, therefore slowing the broader deployment of this very useful ‘universal’ solution.

Previously, a business may have purchased a small number of relatively expensive PDF licences for a few users, turning them into a resource to be used by other parts of the business. Those users soon started to experience a decline in their own productivity as their colleagues interrupted them with their PDF-related requests. This was one of the reasons why the ability to put a PDF solution on every desktop became all but irresistible for practically any type of business; with more affordable, enterprise-class PDF solutions now available, its broader deployment is now a reality for every business. This presents an opportune moment for any business that’s left its PDF solution to go ‘stale’, to rethink its PDF strategy.

Another change to the PDF market is the rise of freeware solutions. However, it is important for customers to question how well the freeware solutions would stand up to serious business use in an SME or enterprise environment. Furthermore, freeware solutions can quickly become more of a hassle than they are worth, as they provide only the most basic of features but the minute a user wants to do something more complex and important, like converting a PDF to a Word file, they are prompted to buy the “full” version. Over time this leads to increasing user frustration and a burden on IT as requests come in for enhanced features.

If you need another compelling reason to rethink your PDF solutions, then the issue of security is a good one, not least because with so much focus on addressing digital or technology-based risks, paper’s analogue format seems to have been overlooked from a security perspective. Yet paper, and more importantly, its contents, pose a risk that every company should consider. In fact, security could well be the driver for the often promised, but rarely achieved paperless office; banishing paper, digitising documents and saving them as secure PDFs as part of a secure document workflow process, is one way organisations can add further resilience to their already secure organisations.

Saving documents as PDFs isn’t necessarily a panacea for document security concerns though, as research conducted by the Ponemon Institute illustrates. It explains that even companies that have made the full (or partial) transition to digital documents could still leave themselves exposed and vulnerable to risk or data loss. Organisations need to ensure they are advising their customers on how to use all the security features available in PDF solutions, like redaction, if they are to mitigate as much risk as possible.

To help organisations address these risks, a free new whitepaper entitled Using PDF documents for more secure document workflows, has been published by Nuance to lift the lid on how document workflows can be made more secure through the proper use of the robust security features available in solutions like Nuance’s Power PDF 2 family. The whitepaper explains how the PDF format can help them turn paper files into electronic ones effectively and effortlessly, optimising their document workflow security while facilitating adherence to compliance responsibilities.

A further argument for rethinking your PDF solution is that over time, your needs may have changed. Today, you probably want the convenience to navigate, draw annotations and type using a tablet or notebook and a pen or finger so you can be productive in the office or on the go. To that end, modern PDF solutions have made real strides in user convenience to the point that we’re now able to support touch-enabled hybrid devices, which has been driven by the user adoption of Windows 10 and next generation hybrids.

It’s my belief that we’re entering a new era for PDF, during which it will finally rise in prominence. Its elevated status will be fuelled by the movement towards more secure and flexible digital document workflows, as well as the ability to finally put an affordable, enterprise-class PDF solution on every desktop.

Steven Steenhaut, Senior Director, Global Demand Center at Nuance Communications