A recent study has revealed that standardization is expanding. In their effort to provide technological, economic and societal benefits to enterprises that employ them, standards are becoming more mainstream throughout Europe. Specifically, the ISO 19005 standard (PDF/A), which defines requirements for creating documents suitable for archiving based on the widely available PDF format.

The survey, conducted by the PDF/A Competence Center at the end of 2008, shows a steady increase in the number of users (as compared to 2007). Half of all respondents (n=400) stated that they intend to introduce PDF/A in the next twelve months, while the number of those working with older archiving formats such as TIFF, JPEG or simple PDF decreased by about five percent.

Yet, perhaps most enlightening, the survey showed an increased focus on email archiving.

One Standard for Many Uses

Of course, companies have a variety of reasons to use ISO standards. They may want to make their documents more user friendly, or to satisfy legal requirements ensuring digitally archived material is archived properly, or to improve the management and security of their documents.

Regardless, it’s catching on. The Competence Center found that 95 percent of the IT decision makers surveyed know of PDF/A, with 16 percent using it actively and 75 percent planning to introduce in sooner than later

Acknowledging and adhering to ISO standards isn’t just about digitally converting documents overnight. The standard specifies in detail what content is allowed and what is not. But it is advantageous and meaningful. Full text search capabilities, for example, have shown to be effective, something that many companies have begun to integrate into their content management system.

Readability vs. Time & Money

If concerns about universal readability and access aren’t primary concerns for companies, perhaps time, money and legal issues are. Many documents cannot be ensured after a few years because of technology developments, which in turn may cost more and require more effort to make them available and accessible.

Therefore it behooves companies, in Europe and around the world to draft and implement an appropriate strategy which complies with the law.