Adobe and Microsoft are both pushing into the forms segment. Adobe is adding staff to its ePaper division (which includes Acrobat), and Microsoft is pushing ahead with XDocs. WSJ explains why:
With online traffic expanding, there is little doubt companies want to change the way they process information. For years, big corporations labored to automate their financial, personnel and customer-relations departments, installing big “enterprise” software systems and database programs to store data in neat rows and columns. With the proliferation of Web sites, the spread of e-mail and the broader use of video, audio and other less orderly types of data, this approach must be expanded to store, catalog and access the growing reams of “unstructured” data in documents.
The shift is the logical next step for corporations trying to turn information into intelligence.
In its simplest form, a forms-management system might automatically distribute a customer order to several departments, such as manufacturing and invoicing, and then send the data to a computer keeping track of the company’s finances. In a more complex application, a pharmaceutical company may collect clinical data from thousands of doctors, including verbal descriptions of a patient, and route it to researchers for analysis and ultimately to the Food and Drug Administration.