Monday, December 26, 2011

December Observations: TagMyDoc—A New Way to Share Documents, with Lots of Great History




also published in The Hard Copy Observer, December 2011




Observations: TagMyDoc—A New Way to Share Documents, with Lots of Great History

TagMyDoc – A New Way to Share Documents, with Lots of Great History!

In the spirit of the “Year in Review” stories the team at the Hard Copy Observer has been working on this month, I wanted to take on something similar for Jim Lyons Observations, and look back over my year or two’s worth of monthly columns to see what might jump out as worthy of further mention, especially where several (at the time) seemingly disparate items now fall together to form (a now) obvious pattern.

But then a new app for the iPhone, from a small company in Canada, came to my attention and it pulled underneath it so many different themes I have explored lately, including the following:

  • Mobile Apps and Smartphone Pervasiveness
  • Cloud Imaging and Storage
  • QR Codes
  • Social Media
  • Document Management
And it also had an historic legacy, going back in our industry, which as regular readers will recognize is one of my favorite aspects of a story as well.

It started with one of my favorite weekly features, from online tech-news source, Business Insider. On December 10, the weekly “Here Are The Best iPhone And iPad Apps You Missed This Week” by Ellis Hamburger, alerted me to the new app ScanMyDoc, and in fact had it in the second position in their coverage, right behind the long-awaited iPhone version of the extremely popular iPad app, Flipboard (see “August 2010 Observations --From the Magazine Rack and What a Difference a Year Makes!”).


Xerox Smartpaper technologies that go way back (see 1994’s NYTimes’ piece, “Technology; Smart Paper Documents For the Electronic Age”,  http://www.nytimes.com/1994/07/10/business/technology-smart-paper-documents-for-the-electronic-age.html) came to mind as I read the description of the app and its companion web-based document solution, “ScanMyDoc lets you share documents using QR codes - TagMyDoc.com is a new website that lets you print out QR codes on documents, then save them to the cloud. Using the ScanMyDoc app, anyone who scans the code on your document can instantly download it. It's a cool and secure new way to share stuff. Plus, the app keeps track of your entire QR code reading history.” (http://www.businessinsider.com/best-iphone-ipad-apps-10-2011-12#scanmydoc-lets-you-share-documents-using-qr-codes-2)
 
So much more than another QR code reader, this seemed to be a fully thought-out solution from Montreal-based Knova Web Technologies. I downloaded the app, sought out the TagMyDoc.com website and uploaded a Word document, retrieved and printed it complete with its identifying QR code, and was able to use the iPhone to retrieve it from the cloud, all in just a few minutes. I had to find out more!

A good email exchange with Knova principals Gabriel Deschenes, CEO, Julien Leroux, Marketing Director of TagMyDoc and JP Desjardins, Communication Director, follows, as they responded to my questions via email.

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JLO: How did you come up with the idea for the solution?

Knova: In a digital world, it is surprising that the process of sharing physical document is still quite tedious (anyone used a scanner recently ?). We wanted to find a way to make the paper document sharing process simpler and easier.

Before TagMyDoc, here was no way of sharing printed documents with people unless you sent them to a link to a server that hosted the original file. Even with today’s shortened links, remembering any URL can be difficult since it is easily forgotten once you need to get the document.  You can still share it with Facebook, Twitter, [see “Observations September 2009: Document Management with Twitter? A Start Anyway”], or email.  But to open the door for real-life sharing of documents, we used the QR code to tag the documents because it is the easiest and most popular barcode in the world [see “January 2010 Observations -- From the QR Code sandbox — and will QR Codes help printing?”].


 TagMyDoc.com uses history to describe their highly evolved document management scheme

So one day we come up with an idea, lets create an app that automatically tag some documents with QR codes that link to the doc you have in the front of your eyes. That is why we built a tool to easily tag your documents and provide people with your tagged document, a public link to it and the QR code pointing to your document. With this system, people can simply scan the tag to download the docs.

JLO: Do you have a few "use cases" where the solution really shines?

Knova: A lot of people are doing some presentations all around the world right now. Those people have others who want the presentation documents, typically PowerPoint. Since they didn’t have TagMyDoc when needed, they had to send emails with attachments to each of those wanting it.

You can expect presence in schools also, and we have a couple of stealth projects that we prefer to keep it for us for the time being. Expect partnerships, extensions to popular software and applications and further implementation of document management in your daily life.

JLO: What is the future, including how do you make money?

Knova: We aim to have as many users of our service as possible by making TagMyDoc the easiest way to share documents in the digital as well as in the real world.

For pricing plans, you can go see for yourself at http://tagmydoc.com/register. We also plan to provide solutions for businesses that will allow them to make use of the TagMyDoc platform into their own segregated network. It offers more cloud storage, enhanced features, add-ins etc...

Another neat addition for Premium users is the ability to batch-tag documents. With testing from the development team, we were able to tag 150+ documents in one batch upload without any hiccups, just to show the power of the TagMyDoc platform.

For the beta launch of TagMyDoc, a Premium account is only $1.99/mo and a Premium Plus account is only a buck more at $2.99/mo. We believe in micro-payments for our customers so that’s why these are incredible prices for the features you get. We plan to support the other popular Office application, Microsoft Excel [in addition to the “coming soon” Word and PowerPoint add-ins]. Tagging Excel files will be very easy. An added benefit of Excel is that you will be able to specify the cell and column of your tag instead of selecting between corners. We plan to make further integration with ScanMyDoc, our QR code scanner, the fastest one in the App Store.

JLO: Do you have plans to work with other cloud storage sites or document repositories (Scribd comes to mind – see “Observations May 2008 – Scribd, the YouTube for Documents?”)?

Knova: TagMyDoc’s primary use is to tag documents as mentioned. Because of wanting to keep track of your documents, it became a hosting service as well. It quickly became more important for us to make this a hosting service without neglecting the tagging that goes on, so we added features like folders for organizing your documents, sharing documents, sharing folders, deleting documents and folders, renaming folders, password-protecting documents, settings, batch uploading, versioning of documents. Because people see Scribd, Dropbox, Box.net as a general file hosting and sharing service, we can’t say that we are in the same space. But we are already being approaches by some of those to add the TagMyDoc solutions to their applications, so for sure we are looking for a partnership but waiting for the most valuable for us and the other companies.

JLO: Are you familiar with past efforts in printing/document management that have inspired or offered "how not to do" insight (Xerox Smartpaper comes to mind in this case)?

Knova: Yes, we took a look to previous inventions that were done in the printing/sharing documents industry. Especially when you’re making a patent, you have to look to the art within from other patents in your domains. So then we knew about what was available before TagMyDoc and how it is different from the others’ inventions. The things we always founds with other inventions such as Xerox Smartpaper, is that there was a big education of the market to be done, people need to act in a different way and buy other instruments to benefit from the inventions.

TagMyDoc use technology such as QR codes, which is the most commonly known and used 2D tag, it also depends on Smartphone and cloud computing. To benefit from TagMyDoc, we wanted peoples to use technology that they already know and use and most importantly, like! At the beginning we were thinking about creating 2D tags that can be only read by our own QR reader app, Scanmydoc. But we judged that this was a “how not to do it” way, even if we would have more Scanmydoc users by now. We are thinking long term and this way it is making this app easy to use and practical for everyone.

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As of two weeks following the Business Insider review, the ScanMyDoc app still has not warranted a user rating or review, but as the Knova executives acknowledged, these solutions take some time for education and awareness, even in the case of building upon existing standards. It is an appealing solution to me, if only because it incorporates some many technologies and solutions I have covered in the past several years. It is also interesting in revealing changing industry priorities – for example launching the smartphone-based solution first, with the Microsoft Office versions to follow – not something that would always have been the case! It will be interesting to keep an eye on this firm and its apps/solutions to see how things develop!