PDF In-Depth

Moving live business process to the Web

October 06, 1999


Right now, the power of instant access over the Web is driving business cycles to a new speed, called Internet speed. In this necessary and inevitable adaptation to Internet time, all companies are faced with an unavoidable transition. Adobe ePaper solutions will exploit the robust features of the Acrobat architecture to seamlessly enable e-Commerce.

Just as the 100 million distributed copies of Acrobat Reader are a testament to PDF as a universal format, the promise of business functionality growth of PDF is unlimited. In the relentless transition to online business that every company must master, standards and common sense are priceless.

"If enterprises focus only on the 'e' in E-business, they will fail," says William T. Clifford, president and CEO of GartnerGroup. GartnerGroup advises executives to approach E-business holistically. A key challenge will be to integrate technology into the core of the business, rather than use technology to create ancillary or parallel businesses.

Enterprises that fail to do this will waste valuable time and may not survive." (Is "E" the only letter?, Gartner Group Insight, Volume 1, Issue 1, 8/99). ?" "E-business is crucial to business development for the next five years," says lead analyst Alex Drobik. "However, many organizations are missing the whole E-business picture by jumping into the abyss of hype and speculation.

E-business is at its best when developed with the entire business in mind." (Also, on a practice-what-they-preach note, Gartner Group just announced that all of the reports since 1998 are now available in PDF - for ease of instant use for presentation and distribution.)

In other words, if a new technology promises yet another breakthrough for yet another massive investment, it is important to see if we can achieve the same results with currently installed Structrual Capital, perhaps by sharing PDF across today's networks and desktops. In the old days of online business operations, a number of vertical technology vendors established a multi-billion dollar software market. Vendors were divided into classes originally, which were:

Document Management, Workflow, Info Retrieval, Image Retrieval and Collaboration. All of these solutions require a widespread, uniform adoption of common systems so that all users can easily access important business documents and forms. These divisions of functionality according to installed proprietary software packages are especially burdensome, because every user must learn a new application to consume a new document.

The genius of Acrobat is that it provides the architecture - WITHIN THE DOCUMENT - to provide ALL of the above functionalities of multiple enterprise software environments. Unlike conventional (application- or platform-specific) solutions, the PDF document is freely and universally accessible to users globally. The Universal Document frees the user from the requirement to have a specific application installed locally to consume the info. Let's compare the functional equivalence of Acrobat 4 features with conventional application-specific systems:

EDMS: Electronic Document Management System - E.g. Documentum

Acrobat4 contains digital signature security technology that is the equivalent of any EDMS alternative. Combined with the standard Doc Info and Security fields of PDF, very specific document handling and usage can be managed within the document itself.

Info Retrieval: Search-ability of PDF Content - E.g. Verity, Excalibur, anyone.

Because most high value documents are published in PDF, to preserve their appearance and security, most Web Search engines and popular browser-installs will commonly offer up PDF content as the Results of Search efforts.

This area will explode now, because the Adobe Document Server allows instantaneous rendering of PDF content on the Web. In the past, users might click past some critical Search Hit, just because it took a while to download. Now, PDF content is accessible to even the newbie-est user.

Collaboration: Working groups online - E.g. Lotus Notes

Please read my Acrobat 4 Tip on this subject, and the unique nature of the dynamic PDF document environment is yours for your creative freedom. Within Acrobat4, users can instantly sort all attached comments by Author, Type, Time of Creation an so on.

The PDF document itself carries all of the dynamic and roll-back information that many users have come to respect form systems like Lotus Notes. Now, equal functionality if embodied in the PDF document itself, and can be universally shared across all popular platforms, the Web, email and other media, both present and future.

Independent Format

The great advantage of PDF is that is has always been an independent format, designed to function across all platforms and media. This universality is arguably the single greatest business advantage of Acrobat across the corporate enterprise: all of the advantages of digital documents, with none of the limitations of traditional systems like email, document management and search repositories. These capabilities allow businesses to move processes and communications to the Web most cost effectively and with minimal disruption to current practices.

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