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Adobe sings the praises of online documents

Easy digital delivery of information will dramatically improve the way businesses communicate, says Adobe Systems president Charles Geschke.

NEW YORK--Easy digital delivery of information will dramatically improve the way businesses communicate, according to Adobe Systems president Charles Geschke, and Adobe's own Acrobat format will be the preferred method of delivery.

In his keynote address at PC Expo here, CNET's PC Expo coverage Geschke laid out the advantages of moving archived and new documents online, while singing the praises of his own company's technology. Augmenting his speech with customer testimonials, Geschke argued that the paperless office is in fact not an ideal model; rather, businesses need an easy way to store and access information among paper and electronic documents.

Geschke cited statistics indicating that the number of pages produced has grown to 6 trillion, growing at a rate of 20 percent per year. Historic preference of hard copies of paper documents among government agencies and large institutions has added to the resistance to change among large businesses.

"The paperless office is a popular tagline," he said, "but documents won't disappear."

Instead, the ideal, according to one Adobe customer, is "data entry one time."

Traditionally staid institutions are today among the most receptive to moving to a more connected digital infrastructure, Geschke argues, because they see the appeal of moving enormous amounts of documents online, where they can be accessed by anyone, anywhere.

Pharmaceutical firm Pfizer, for example, used Adobe's Portable Digital Format (PDF) in its 2 million-page application for approval of the anti-impotence drug Viagra. Under FDA rules, Pfizer has sole rights to any profit from its patents for 18 years. Thus, speeding up the application process results in profit for the company.

Using PDF, the Viagra approval application was completed in four months. "I'm sure we're all grateful for that," Geschke quipped.

Law firms buried under mountains of evidentiary documents also benefit, he argued. Because digital formats like Acrobat capture images as well as recognize texts, documents stored in this format are increasingly acceptable in courtrooms.

Digital delivery of documents also allows companies to move to "e-business" models. Large companies want access to documents from the moment they are created, he said. "This is not rocket science."

Concluding his remarks, Geschke noted how far today's connected offices have evolved from 1992, when Adobe introduced Acrobat and the Portable Digital Format at fall Comdex.

Replaying the video that launched the product, he drew laughs from the crowd with the depiction of a "connected office" circa 1992, when no more than a few computers were networked in any office, documents were archived using temperamental copy machines and sent using unreliable fax machines or overnight mail.

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