Virtually all businesses create documents that contain data and content that originates elsewhere. Those documents are known as reports, statements, proposals, dashboards, invoices, catalogs, forms and an endless list of other titles. Some of those documents are created using office software like word processors, spreadsheets and presentation tools. Some are created with specialized tools like report builders or data visualization applications. Others are developed with specialized systems designed for mass production.
There are so many different types of data-powered documents and tools to aide in their production that it’s difficult to categorize them. Unfortunately, categorization is one of the most common methods businesses use to choose solutions. When businesses realize a need or an opportunity to improve efficiencies or create a competitive feature, they all too often begin and end their search within a certain category term that they believe best matches the solution they are envisioning. These categories are confusing at best and often misleading.
One of the most common examples within the world of data-powered documents is the term “reporting.” There are significant differences between solutions that are designed to display performance metrics on screen (often called “reports”) and solutions that are designed to generate credit reports or environmental reports. Another such term is “documents.” Are documents always hardcopy? Are the documents displayed on screen always PDFs? Is a web page a document? Is a store receipt a document? The answers to these questions have a significant bearing on the understanding of solution categories like “document management,” “document generation,” “document automation” and the like.
This is our world, and if you’re involved with any aspect of data-powered documents, no matter what they’re called, we suggest that you read Windward’s “Data-Powered Documents” ebook. The ebook is designed to help clear up the confusion by focusing on features and applications rather than definitions.
Data-powered documents are found everywhere in business, commerce and everyday life. Understanding the systems and processes that underlie these documents will enable you to make much more informed decisions with regard to development, automation and business process design.