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Supporting the Industry through Education

By Jeanne Mowlds

The Electronic Document Systems Foundation (EDSF) is an organization dedicated to enhancing the value and relevance of document communications. Keith Davidson, PhD, EDPP, president of Xplor International, first conceived the notion of an industry-wide foundation more than five years ago. Davidson, who is also president of EDSF, says he "wanted an industry foundation that would bring to focus the need for college-level and continuing education and training for preparing students to enter and contribute to the industry. It would also address a broad range of societal problems that are rooted in communications deficiencies or failures."

An Industry Commitment

In 1995, after hearing Davidson's idea, the Xplor Board of Directors voted to establish the Xplor Foundation, which later became the Electronic Document Systems Foundation. Brian Baxendale, president of Pitney Bowes Production Mail & Document Factory Solutions, also a member of the EDSF Board of Directors, says the value in EDSF is that it's a vehicle for industry leaders, users, partners, suppliers and academics to help advance the public's understanding of the value of the document. To achieve that, the Foundation enables professionals and the public to learn about and derive benefit from paper and electronic documents, especially as they are continually transformed by emerging technologies. The foundation's mission is to enhance the value of document communications by fostering education, academic-based research, recognizing leadership and innovation, creating a base of knowledge as well as building and supporting a community of interest to benefit document creators and users. According to Frank Romano, professor, Rochester Institute of Technology, and EDSF's vice chair of Education, the Foundation's Excellence in Education Awards as well as the David Hoods Scholarship, honor programs and people involved in the education of the industry's most valuable national asset: students.

Because the document is so important in today's highly advanced communications society, one of EDSF's goals is to become a recognized resource for the development and support of learning in document communications. Leaders spearheading the Foundation intend to do this by fostering document education, recognizing industry professionals moving forward as leaders, sponsoring important industry projects and building a communications community.

John Lopiano, EDSF chair, says we live in a world of both paper and electronic documents, which have specific purposes vital to communications. "The commonality of documents is that they are used to communicate. In fact, whatever form they may take, documents are one of the primary methods used by organizations or individuals to communicate information, make requests for action or used for business transactions. Increasingly, the focus of those involved with documents has become a focus on document communications."

H. Werner Krause, EDSF executive vice chair and CEO of Oce Printing Systems USA, suggests companies and individuals associated with EDSF have the ability to create, design and shape the future identity of the electronic document systems industry. "Such efforts must come from within. No one else will do it for us. There is really no other group within our industry that allows an individual to become so personally involved. The efforts of such individuals can and should go far to give the Foundation a persona that is shaped by people who care enough to be involved," says Krause.

EDSF Leadership

The foundation's leadership is poised to redefine and reposition the organization to add societal meaning and impact to the rather considerable scientific and economic accomplishments of the industry. It is through the collective efforts of the accomplished individuals on the foundation's Board of Directors that help advance the organization's mission and long-term welfare.

EDSF's Future

EDSF represents a broad cross section of the document systems community which helps it gather support for the research of industry and issue trends, to support scholarships and to recognize those in the industry who support the goals of EDSF. "My vision for the future of EDSF is that it would become the primary source of information to support all members of the industry and that it would develop a scholarship program, supported by the members of the industry, that would provide the industry with it's future leaders," says Lopiano. EDSF can only succeed if the leaders of the industry support the objectives of the foundation. Involvement in EDSF provides a means to give something back to the industry.

One of EDSF's future efforts, Romano says, is to conduct a study on the future of print. "It is important to understand trends that will affect all of us in the future. To better develop a model involving the future of print, this study will focus on the final products of the printing process, from transaction documents to promotional materials, to books and magazines; there are over 100 categories. By analyzing each area in terms of technological and societal impacts, we should be able to identify trends," says Romano.


Without the financial support given to the EDSF, it would not be able to meet its many worthwhile goals and support its projects. The Foundation's activities are reliant on donations from the document systems community because it's a nonprofit organization. Equally important, EDSF needs the support of the minds and hearts of the leadership of the industry. The EDSF Board of Directors is a reflection of all segments of the industry and needs everyone's encouragement and contribution.

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