It is easy to forget that the original access and mobility solution for archives was paper. And there are some very good reasons why this is the case. Paper is sized for the human body and for reading. It is designed to be held and viewed at arms-length with ease and is engineered in a variety of sizes and formats to suit the different needs — books, magazines, letters, documents, and so on. Paper is an ideal medium to be sequenced (as a book) and is indexable (through page numbers). It is these very fundamental characteristics and often un-appreciated characteristics that modern digital document archives struggle to reproduce.
Failing the Paper Test
In most cases successive generations of technology have failed to offer an appropriate alternative to paper. Microfiche compressed full sized pages into miniaturized forms, but microfiche readers were large and cumbersome – hardly a recipe for portability. Mainframe data terminals provided instant access to vast volumes of data, but failed to provide the access necessary for those outside of the organization. It has only been with the advent of the web that the general public has been able to see inside of archives for the first time and enjoy the kind of convenience of design and interface that paper is so unceremoniously known for.
It doesn’t take stacks of statistics to know that we live in a mobile computing generation. There are more smartphones and tablets out in the world than there are PCs. As a result, consumers have many changing expectations -- we want to be able to access relevant information about statements and accounts through mobile applications and self-service portals. Organizations from public companies to government agencies all benefit from digital strategies that accommodate this customer experience. But research shows that only 32% of organizations provide digital online access and 53% having no customer access to digital communications at all.
Mobile access to archived material is the preferred choice of consumers. And mobile delivery actually saves organizations money on traditional print and mail. When the average print budget for a modern organization runs to $5.8m just a 20% reduction in the use of paper can have a large financial impact. Mobile devices and the web are key enabling technologies for achieving this.