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E-Forms Software to The Workplace Rescue?

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Posted November 22, 2005 By Clint Boulton     Feedback

IBM Workplace Forms is the company's stab at putting electronic forms software onto customers' computers.

Looking to capitalize on the growing interest businesses have in saving paper by digitizing documents, IBM today introduced a new piece of electronic forms software.

IBM Workplace Forms helps employees take corporate data, such as inventory figures, customer data or pricing information, and present it in a clean, easy-to-read form. The software is intuitive and can be updated on the fly, so customers no longer have to waste time on manual data entry.

E-forms technology is especially useful in industries such as insurance, government, banking and healthcare for the sheer volume of information the sectors generate. E-forms is a way to efficiently transform data to present clear information.

For example, government groups can use e-forms to help meet compliance regulations for record retention, such as Sarbanes-Oxley.

Same goes for healthcare providers, which can lower administration costs and comply with HIPAA by trading in their paper forms for digital documents that can be updated and shuttled across an intranet or extranet.

Similarly, bank customers can use the software to capture data for payments and wire transfers.

Workplace Forms is the result of IBM's integration of PureEdge Solutions, which it purchased last summer.

The PureEdge portfolio included tools for designing high-end e-forms and viewer tools for rich client or thin-client environments. The tools improve business processes for customers, all part of IBM's overarching e-business on-demand computing strategy.

Workplace Forms is based on Extensible Markup Language (XML) , which pretty much works with any software, operating system or computing platform.

IBM said in a statement that future versions of IBM Workplace Forms will support XForms, an emerging industry standard for electronic form documents.

"With every business process relying on documents, data and forms, the need to rapidly create, manage and exchange forms and documents in a secure, non-proprietary way is key to productivity," said Ken Bisconti, vice president of Workplace, Portal and Collaboration Software Products at IBM.

IBM has competitors in the space: Microsoft, Adobe, Verity and startups like StreamServe are all producing some form of e-forms software to win over customers.

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