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SharePoint features elevate Microsoft DMS in market

With new SharePoint features, Microsoft sets its sights on the document management space, which it has historically left to other vendors.

Many industries still rely on paper records of day-to-day operations, and businesses often choose to digitize and automate the activities with those documents. This demand has made document management systems that include scanning, text extraction and record management features popular among enterprise organizations.

Though Microsoft has historically left paper scanning and management to other vendors, Microsoft DMS SharePoint now has new features to give it a fighting chance in the DMS market.

Companies use DMSes in order to gain access to legacy content or scan records for their everyday operations. These software products have several core functions that include document capture, storage, workflows, automated tasks, record management and classification. Over the years, DMSes such as eFileCabinet, OnBase by Hyland and Laserfiche have had success with businesses of all sizes by including additional advanced capabilities that perform optical character recognition and automate the classification of documents based on their content.

SharePoint's paper trail

In its early days, when SharePoint gained traction with digital asset and content management, many users questioned its ability to manage and interact with paper documents. A number of third-party products enabled documents to be scanned directly into SharePoint and helped keep some SharePoint users happy. Despite that functionality, the platform didn't deliver content-based classification or any native support for optical character recognition. While there are fewer paper documents in use today, customer needs remain the same, and features such as pattern recognition in documents, text extraction and mining are still the capabilities that DMSes excel in.

SharePoint now delivers workflows that can interact with scanned documents or images, while still supporting the capture of the images via PowerApps or a traditional scanner.

In late 2017, Microsoft announced a new feature as part of its cloud storage service, OneDrive, that enabled users to take pictures of receipts or business cards and then immediately extract text and index the content for search. During the SharePoint Virtual Summit in May 2018, Microsoft announced the introduction of advanced cognitive services that would include optical character recognition capabilities as part of SharePoint. For example, Microsoft AI can now process images in document libraries, tag them based on their content and make them available for search.

By processing images in SharePoint, Microsoft is also able to detect document types automatically and classify them into categories. With these new capabilities, Microsoft DMS is competing with systems that advertise document type detection, making SharePoint even more threatening to both digital asset management and scanned digital records.

Microsoft Flow integration key for DMS

Text recognition is not the only thing that makes the Microsoft DMS a threat to other platforms in the marketplace. Microsoft Flow -- the workflow engine that Microsoft recently introduced -- along with PowerApps and SharePoint, gives Microsoft a significant competitive edge.

SharePoint now delivers workflows that can interact with scanned documents or images, while still supporting the capture of the images via PowerApps or a traditional scanner.

Microsoft has gone from being one of the best partners for DMS platforms to being a competitor. Since SharePoint is bundled in Microsoft Office 365, it will likely not cost clients any extra. But before anyone pulls the plug on traditional DMS tools, administrators must be sure SharePoint meets the business requirements of managing paper records and understand platform limitations of library size and additional costs associated with storage.

This was last published in December 2018

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