Now that the sun has officially set on 2015, it’s a perfect moment to look back at the year and reflect. Specifically, we’re taking a look back at some of the trends that defined the document management industry in 2015. Many of these trends are ongoing, which means that we can expect them to continue growing and evolving well into the new year—and possibly even beyond!


Legally Driven Trends

As organizations produce, gather, and manage more and more files, trends related to law and litigation have been especially notable drivers of DMS evolution. E-discovery, in particular, is becoming an issue of concern among businesses. The term given to any electronic information sought for litigation purposes, e-discovery, is also a process that lawyers, law firms, and even government investigators are using to assemble electronic evidence for use in court cases. Enterprises, therefore, are using document management systems (DMS) to stay more organized, to stay on top of the files they have that might be sought for e-discovery purposes, and to ramp up their file retention practices as a protective measure.

Information Governance is also a trend that fits into the legal category, partially because of the growth of e-discovery. Information Governance is the name given to the processes that an organization uses to manage their documents and data based on compliance factors—such as governmental or environmental regulations, laws, risk minimization policies, and more. In part, this trend is also linked to document retention. Organizations are trying to get a better handle on which files they can safely delete and when. Deletion of old files can help to protect a business from information leaks, e-discovery requests or subpoenas, and more.


The Cloud Trend

In the consumer information storage realm, the cloud has been embraced fully. Services like Dropbox, Google Docs, SkyDrive, and other cloud storage options have won over consumers by making it easier and more convenient to access files, collaborate with friends or colleagues, and adopt a semi-paperless lifestyle.

In enterprise records management, though, adoption of the cloud has been considerably slower and more cautious. By all means, the best document management systems now offer completely cloud-based services that allow for a full range of features. eFileCabinet is one such DMS, with both desktop and cloud options available. However, many enterprises are still worried about the cloud for 3 primary reasons: security, legality/compliance, and privacy. Expect these fears to be assuaged as businesses start to see that cloud-based document management systems are capable of offering very similar services to what is available on the desktop. 2015 already saw more enterprises embracing the cloud for their file managing needs.


The Social Trend

At first, most enterprises adopted DMS as a means of going paperless. They just wanted a software system that allowed them to access, navigate, and manage their filing systems digitally. The style and aesthetic of the DMS interface, therefore, took a back seat.

Now, though, with more and more enterprises going paperless—and now that businesses are becoming increasingly comfortable with managing files digitally—expect style and aesthetics to figure more significantly in the next stage of DMS evolution. Specifically, social integration is going to be huge. Since just about every supervisor and employee in the business world these days is aware of the interface of social sites like Facebook—and since a big part of the appeal for DMS implementation is cross-enterprise collaboration—don’t be surprised if document management software starts looking a bit more like a social site.

Of course, friend requests and statuses won’t be a part of the equation. But a social interface—with user photos, instant messaging capability, and a clean and simple means of navigating the filing hierarchy—could make document management systems more welcoming for every member of your staff. A more socially driven DMS would also make it easier to track file revisions, delegate user-based permissions, and bounce ideas for project collaboration around, right there in the DMS program.


The Essential Features Trend

Just as the growing universality of DMS implementation is leading to a demand for features like collaborative social intranet, it has also turned features that were once document management luxuries into stone-cold essentials. For instance, not too long ago, record management systems with mobile apps and client portals were difficult to find—and more expensive, to boot. In 2016, a DMS without a mobile app or a secure means of sending files to clients is going to be viewed as obsolete. This exciting shift of features from luxuries to necessities begs the question: What new and innovative features will become the document management industry’s next cutting-edge luxuries? We’ll surely be keeping an eye out for the answers in 2016, as new DMS trends begin to emerge.