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Barriers to Digital Transformation: The Changing Landscape of Document Preservation

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Digital transformation is both important and inevitable for businesses. The only variable is how long it will take businesses and consumers to make the transition. Going fully digital is not the only way to truly embrace digital transformation. Digital transformation starts with understanding you and your customer’s needs and finding a way to satisfy those needs with digital products if that’s the appropriate solution. It’s not about going digital simply for its own sake. Even though digital tools often promise to create efficiencies, it can still be challenging to get buy-in from key stakeholders, who are sometimes individual consumers.

One distinct barrier to digital transformation is document preservation and storage. Many businesses and individuals who are reluctant to make a full transition to digital documents are concerned about how to preserve the fidelity of a document as well as how they can ensure proper storage for as long as necessary. Let’s look at how document preservation and storage have evolved over the years and how current and emerging technologies are working toward creating solutions to fit all a business’s needs.

A Brief History of Document Preservation and PDF

The Portable Document Format (PDF) was first introduced more than 25 years ago to preserve the fidelity of a document. PDF enabled people to share documents across various operating systems in a hassle-free way that allowed them to see the document exactly as the author intended, with no room for mishandled translation on a different operating system.

What most people don’t realize is that PDF was originally created as one of the first hybrids of digital transformation—allowing for digital transmission and storage of documents, but also providing a way for people to print a document that looked exactly as it did on their screen. Over time, digital documents, and PDF specifically, have added many capabilities, including processing and storing e-signatures. While adding something like e-signatures to the mix has in some ways made digital document storage and preservation more complex, it also enables businesses and individuals to work how they want to.

PDF has also added complexities to how we understand legal requirements of documents and the accompanying paper trail. Understanding which transactions can happen digitally and which ones need a physical paper trail is important to making the best decision for you and your business. This is why, as new technologies emerge with digital documents, organizations have worked hard to create universal standards and best practices for digital document storage and preservation.

Long-Term Document Storage and the Cloud

Digital document storage has evolved immensely in recent years. No longer do you need to have your computer physically in front of you to retrieve a document or use a USB drive to carry your documents around with you. The advent of cloud services such as Dropbox, Box and SharePoint allow people to access the same documents from anywhere at any time and enable real-time collaboration.

But with that convenience comes many questions about how we organize document storage for easy retrieval, as well as how we ensure document security. Depending on your needs, there are many documented best practices for both digital and physical documents. Building confidence in digital documents is a key component of continuing to move digital transformation forward, which means that cloud storage must evolve to meet the needs of modern consumers and businesses.

My team has been working to create products that align with digital document best practices so that consumers can feel empowered by available technologies rather than intimidated. It’s important to make sure your solutions work together to provide a digital experience that meets a variety of needs and use cases, all while following guidelines for security, preservation and storage.

Addressing consumer pain points is a driving force for these technological advances in how we think about digital documents. Even just implementing one digital document solution to your standard workflows can save valuable time, money, and human resources. Not only can having each stage of the document workflow in one place save time and money, but it can also enable better recordkeeping and document preservation—simply by condensing the workflow and the number of potential places a document could be mishandled.


Digital transformation is the gateway to automating tasks that normally eat up valuable time during our days. By embracing digital transformation as both an individual and commercial entity, we can truly transform how we think about work and creativity. Not only does going digital save time and money, it also removes overly complex systems and processes that can plague a business.

Transforming how we work is essential for our economy moving forward. From decentralized organizations to the ever-increasing population of the gig economy, the way we work is changing, and the technology is following. For the new economy to be successful, we must get to a point where digital products can meet the needs of a variety of users who have innumerable use cases. Creating a seamless transition between the physical and the digital is an important step toward fulfilling that need.





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