Filing Cabinet Software: Its Role in Information Management's History

Learning about the origin of filing cabinet software can help us to understand it in its contemporary context. John Mancini, the president of the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM), is one of the world’s leading experts on information management: AIIM recently declared eFileCabinet user Chris Beebe as its paperless office hero for its World Paper Free Day event.

Mancini notes that the information landscape is comprised of five stages leading up to the development of Enterprise Content Management, document management software, and filing cabinet software as we know these information management mediums today:

1. The Paper-Based Information Era

Mancini maintains that this model was used before the 1950s and was, in large part, the method by which western civilization depicted and documented information in general for most its existence.

2. The Micrographics Era

Mancini asserts that micrographics emerged after the paper-based epoch—emphasizing the photography of paper documents, reducing them in form to microfilm or microfiche. This was arguably the first crucial step toward digitizing information in mass.

Documenting and recording emerged, but paper remained the primary intersection of “organizational processes, information, and people.”

3. The Electronic Records Production (ERP) Era

From the 1960s through the 1980s, the concept of automation was brought to light by leading tech pioneers and innovators. Despite this newfound innovation, paper still held supremacy over the business process. Mancini notes that these solutions, were discussed among and sold only to C-level executives, and were highly expensive and complex. Today, filing cabinet software accomplishes a similar feat, but is far more intuitive.

4. The Workflow Era

This is when documentation specialists emerged—and it forced people to look at information management not as something one merely does but as something one also understands–this is particularly true given the volume of information that proliferated during this time. Network area localization spawned this final section leading to our present era: the era where highly sophisticated information management methods were made available via filing cabinet software.

5. The Era of Information Management Sophistication

Mancini declares that beginning in the early 2000s, with the advent of the internet, filing cabinet software emerged to organizations’ benefit. However, it changed drastically throughout this era—beginning as a cluster of simple imaging technologies, with enterprise content management (ECM) serving as an umbrella nomenclature for anything involving enterprise information management.

Within the past 5 years, however, ECM has become more so a verb (something you do) and less so a noun (something you buy), according to Mancini. As a similar technology, filing cabinet software beholds the same distinction.

For in its verb form, it is largely responsible for de-manual-laboring the organization. Despite blue collar environments being associated with manual labor and the many ills coming with it, relying on paper and disheveled, unstructured information imparts just as many if not more ills (including manual labor within the office) than typical manual labor environments.

With emphasis on visible processes and quantifiable bottom lines, many executives and administrators fail to identify the costliness of hidden processes within an organization—relying on shared drives and/or paper, which is a vessel for immensely multifaceted costs.

Document management technology, however, reduces the manual labor in the organizational process, putting traditionally manualized office processes into the automated, digital, and highly secure and compliance-adherent workflow, collaboration, and storage platforms inherent to the scope of filing cabinet software.

Most organizations relying on paper and traditional information storage processes never realize how inefficient these processes are until they purchase solutions to overthrow them. The time spent handling, sending, locating, and retrieving documents in physical form significantly detracts from the process and cost efficiency. Although this occurs independent of administrators’ consciousness, it is no less detrimental than organizational problems of which administrators are aware and determined to solve.

These demarcations throughout the historical development of enterprise technologies elucidates the difference between cloud storage and more sophisticated solutions: these two very different technologies that are oftentimes confused for the following reasons.

  • Unlike filing cabinet software, cloud storage does not offer workflow, collaboration, enterprise-grade storage capacity, automated deletion, indexing, multi-tiered security features to simplify compliance, all-encompassing role-based user permissions, content lifecycle management, and software integration capabilities
  • Additionally, the difference between these two technologies and cloud storage is the difference between a digital secretary and a digital filing cabinet—filing cabinet software being the secretary with the ability to handle, manipulate, and alter information on command.
  • As the enterprise tech era is brought to its fruition and peak growth, information technology will not reach consumerization. Once fully implemented into the organizational infrastructure worldwide, it will no longer be common for consumers to have better technology in the home than they do in the office.
  • With wearables, mobile phone applications, and consumer-grade software at the helm of software innovation, organizations are asking how they can keep up with the rate of innovation consumers have access to outside of the office, and use of filing cabinet software is one of the many possible answers to this ever-important question.