'ELECTRONIC PAPER' SEEN DRIVING BUSINESS COMMUNICATIONS IN THE
FUTURE; FUTURISTS PRESENT OVERLAPPING VISIONS
PHOENIX, Nov. 20 /PRNewswire/ -- While events such as the crumbling of communism in the Soviet system are difficult to forecast, what is predictable is the emergence of more sophisticated imaging systems to take the place of document processing.
Attendees at a major annual conference sponsored by XPLOR International were presented three complementing visions of the future that assessed changes in product technology, usage and where society is expected to be in the next 10 years and the next century.
Charles A. Pesko Jr., Richard J. Beach and Gentry Lee filled the morning session with an exciting, provocative and sometimes detailed vision of imaging systems, document architectures and humanity's relationship to the future. And on one point they all agree: the rate of change is increasing in predictable as well as unpredictable ways.
Pesko, a director of BIS Strategic Decisions and chairman of the new publication Imaging World Magazine, painted a clear and crisp picture of where the industry is going. By 1995, electronic imaging, an outgrowth of document technology, is expected to be a $30 billion industry from today's $11.3 billion.
Today, he noted, 95 percent of all information is prepared, transmitted and stored on paper. In the United States alone, business uses some 1 billion pages of paper; and 60 percent of our work-day deals with paper. XPLOR members, according to Pesko, account for 25 percent of paper output in the United States, a figure he pegged at 1 trillion pages a year.
Beach of Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), said there are three purposes for a document: information structured for human understanding; a means of transmitting that understanding between humans, and as a social artifact, or a means of extending cultural attributes surrounding that information.
Imaging systems, according to Pesko, should be viewed as "electronic paper" that consists of smart and dumb images, smart being digital and dumb needing conversion via scanner or other device into digitized information.
Enabling technologies that will bring costs of imaging systems down and their reliability up revolve around new and better devices for input, storage, processing output and conversion.
Beach noted that memory costs are dropping while densities increase fourfold every two years. Processors are increasing in functionality every 18 months. Both of these increases in computation capability are allowing system designers to increase document system capabilities at rapid rates.
These increases, Beach said, are allowing vendors to create open architectures and still keep some proprietary elements in their systems. These improvements in system design are allowing users to change document distribution profiles over time and space.
The time and space planning horizon for Pesko and Beach were relatively near-term, five to 10 years.
Gentry Lee, futurist, author and lecturer, looked more than a century into the future as well as back over billions of years to give XPLOR members a different perspective on the role and relationship of humanity to technology.
Lee said that predicting the future is very complex, based on either extrapolation form current events or on unexpected phenomena. The latter is almost impossible; the former being much easier.
Pesko stated that paper's importance continues to grow, but in the future it will slow as electronic paper becomes more prevalent. The challenge for XPLOR members is understanding how imaging will evolve in input, output, storage, processing and conversion. "It's more than pictures and words on paper." he cautioned the 3,000 attendees at the organization's 12th annual conference.
He explained that there are three views the business community needs to understand technology directions: strategic implications, such as competitive advantage from adopting an imaging system architecture; quantitative benefits, such as a reduction in cost to deliver important communications throughout the enterprise; and qualitative improvements in the work environment, such as satisfied workers.
Some quantifiable impacts of adopting imaging strategies were:
-- 30 percent increases in the volume of transactions,
-- 30 percent staff reallocations,
-- 50 percent reductions in storage space for paper, and
-- 50 percent reductions in transaction times.
Groundswell of applications appears to be starting at the desktop, the Imaging World Magazine chairman stated. There is apparently enough processing power in today's hardware for software and applications developers to work with.
By 1995, he estimated that there would be 50,000 imaging systems installed in the United States. In future system architectures, Beach of PARC estimated that it's conceivable that the computer, as the primary processor, could "recede" into the desktop.
XPLOR International provides forums, programs and services to the electronic document systems community to enhance the use of these technologies to achieve their organizational goals.
XPLOR International is located at 2550 Via Tejon, Suite 3L, Palos Verdes Estates, Calif., 90274. Telephone: 800-ON-XPLOR; facsimile: 310-375-4240.
/CONTACT: Jerry Kalman of Kalman Communications, 310-829-5664, for XPLOR International/ CO: XPLOR International ST: Arizona IN: PUB CPR SU: AL-KJ -- LA037 -- 5661 11/20/91 20:08 EST