Adobe Document Cloud champions paperless office

Phil Wainewright Profile picture for user pwainewright March 16, 2015
Adobe overhauls its Acrobat electronic document and EchoSign e-signature services with the launch of the Adobe Document Cloud

Adobe Fill & Sign digital e-signature App With Paper Form below
Adobe has pooled its Acrobat PDF creation technology and EchoSign e-signature service with other existing assets such as OCR and image enhancement technologies to launch a new Document Cloud service to power paperless document transactions.

Echoing the branding of the vendor's existing Creative Cloud and Marketing Cloud, the Document Cloud is most notable for a new mobile feature that allows users to snap a picture of a document directly into PDF format (see picture). OCR technology converts characters in the document into editable text.

Called Acrobat DC, the Document Cloud service also includes e-signing as part of the subscription. Today's announcement sees the passing of the EchoSign brand, which Adobe acquired in 2011, with the service renamed eSign Services.

A touch interface and new autofill technology streamlines the process of completing and signing a document across desktop and mobile platforms. Users can begin working on a document on one device and then pick up where they left off on another device using a new technology introduced today called Mobile Link.

There is also a Send & Track capability to intelligently track and control documents through the process of completion and signature where multiple participants are involved.

The new Adobe service provides a big challenge to e-signature rival DocuSign, which already emphasizes end-to-end workflow processes as part of its offering. We contacted DocuSign for comment and will update this post once we have the company's official response.

As well as being provided as part of subscriptions to the new Document Cloud, the Acrobat DC service is included in subscriptions to Creative Cloud, Adobe's existing subscription service for its media creation and editing products such as PhotoShop. Tighter integration into Marketing Cloud is planned for the future, including visibility into usage and interactions with documents.

Paperwork woes

Around two thirds of professionals would consider changing jobs in order to escape the millstone of excess paperwork, according to a report compiled for Adobe by research firm Edelman Berland, which the company released today.

Among the findings detailed from a study of more than 5,000 office professionals across the US, UK, Germany, France and Australia in Paper Jam: Why Documents are Dragging Us Down:

  • 83 percent feel their success and ability to be productive at work are slowed down by outdated ways of working with documents
  • 61 percent of professionals (69 percent in the US) would change jobs solely for the sake of dramatically less paperwork
  • More than a quarter of professionals (more than a third in the US) believe mundane tasks and cumbersome, inefficient processes are holding back their career advancement

Adobe also highlighted a newly published IDC study which, says the vendor, quantifies significant impacts on enterprise productivity by going paperless:

Line-of-business execs across sales, HR, procurement, and more estimate that solving their disconnect could yield a 36 percent increase in revenue, a 30 percent reduction in cost, and a 23 percent reduction in business/compliance risk.

My take

The 'paperless document'. Hmm. Isn't that a bit of a horseless carriage concept?

This is a long-overdue shake-up of Adobe's e-signature and electronic document offerings with much to like. But there's a certain irony in celebrating the benefits of the paperless office when the core proposition of Acrobat is being able to replicate a paper document digitally.

While it's a useful step to digitize the document, it would be even better to eliminate it entirely where possible. Do I really need to submit a form of any kind to book a holiday or purchase an item? When electronic signatures are directly embedded in processes without having to step out into an archaic, paper-derived detour, that's when we really start to discover huge productivity gains.

Image credit: By Adobe.

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