The Crunch: For over 15 years, Foxit Software has been innovating the PDF to function in a more connected world. From its free Reader to PhantomPDF, Foxit has taken the PDF into the future — a place no one could have imagined when it debuted in 1993. With Foxit, businesses collaborate with ConnectedPDFs that can be tracked, edited, and accessed securely from anywhere. The paperless office has long been the goal of many companies, and with Foxit, that goal is closer to fruition.
I still remember the stack of CDs that used to clog up my mailbox in the early 1990s. Most were from ISPs imploring me to install the software, plug in a dial-up cable to my computer, and start cruising the Internet. The pace was slow in those early days, but, fortunately, advances in technology have improved speeds exponentially.
Not much has survived from those early days, but one file format has defied the odds. The Portable Document Format, or PDF, introduced in 1993, is still thriving. The PDF was originally meant to be a print-ready document that could easily be sent, transferred or stored. It became the standard for companies because it was the electronic equivalent of a paper document.
But, in the quest for a connected office, businesses began to need much more than just static PDFs. They needed a solution to help them manage, edit, and collaborate from anywhere at anytime. Foxit Software saw that need and decided to bring PDF technology into the future.
Foxit has been innovating PDF solutions for over 15 years, and has built a cloud management system that allows companies to easily boost efficiency, reduce overhead, and kick their paper habit. Since PDFs are used by businesses for tax forms, contracts, employment applications, and myriad other documents, they needed to be much more collaborative.
“Because PDFs came out more than 20 years ago, no one ever took collaboration into consideration,” said Steven Li, Chief Technology Officer at Foxit. “We felt they needed to be connected.”
While the PDF was designed to be a printable product, Foxit has pioneered advancements in its collaborative functions, editability, security, and access. Foxit’s ConnectedPDF technology brings incredible flexibility to the electronic document format that is still relevant because of its unique evolution.
“We have stepped up and become an innovator in the space,” said Foxit VP of Marketing David Ronald.
That innovation is evident throughout Foxit’s software offerings, from the free Reader to the agile PhantomPDF. Foxit wanted to be a connected, cost-effective solution in an industry filled with premium prices. With over 400 million people using its software, Foxit is a clear success story.
Going Paperless Made Easy — From Foxit Reader to Phantom
A study released by Foxit and the Business Performance Innovation Network detailed the problem of document deluge, which occurs when a business does not have a comprehensive solution for dealing with the vast number of documents it produces. The results showed that 90 percent of respondents were dependent on PDFs, and 43 percent felt that document creation would only increase.
Documents are the lifeline of business, from everyday correspondences between branches to memos, invoices, and quote requests. They need to be accessible, secure, and adaptable for maximum efficiency. Foxit built all of these into its software, and knows the real-world impact.
When a business contacts another business — particularly through email — delicate information can be left in digital limbo. An email can be forwarded to anyone, stored, and accessed forever. That is still the workflow for many companies, but Foxit provides a secure solution to the problem.
“When a retailer requests a quote from a supplier, that information is highly sensitive,” Steven told us. “With Foxit, they can send out PDF with protection employed so only certain employees from another company can view it. That can’t be done with a normal PDF.”
Foxit gives businesses control with security, easy editing capabilities, and access from anywhere — as long as that access is granted.
The company’s free Foxit Reader has earned rave reviews for its rich functionality and quality. With Reader, a PDF can be annotated and converted into text, which is incredibly rare for free software. Its small file sizes are also a key feature, especially for users who lack unlimited file storage space.
For a complete, business-ready platform, PhantomPDF provides a robust solution. Building on what Reader offers, PhantomPDF boosts sharing, security, and storage capabilities while remaining cost-effective. Foxit created PhantomPDF to be immediately implementable, recognizing the value of a company’s time.
“We built in an intuitive product that can be used without any training or downtime,” Steven said.
Foxit can produce intuitive software, in part, because of the relationship it has with its users. Customer feedback is something Foxit takes very seriously, and it responds. Some of its best ideas have come from heeding users’ stories.
Consumer Feedback Leads To Rich Features Like ConnectedPDF
One of Foxit’s biggest innovations came about when the company listened to its customers. What businesses wanted, customers said, was a way to collaboratively edit and track their PDFs remotely in a cost-effective manner. Foxit’s solution was to build the ConnectedPDF, a technology it then incorporated into all of its platforms, free and otherwise.
“When we talked to our customers, they pointed out they wanted connectivity, and a light bulb went off,” Steven explained. “So we brought the PDF, and all it offers, into a connected world by designing the ConnectedPDF feature, and it has been very well received.”
With the ConnectedPDF, each document is accessible in the cloud and has an embedded code that allows the originator to track, edit, and control access throughout the life of a document. Any PDF can be made into a cPDF with the click of a button, and security is built-in, as every step of the cPDF’s journey is documented and editable.
“We have seamless integration with DocuSign, and we allow third parties to write plug-ins,” Steven said. “We cultivate a third-party ecosystem so our customers can get a total solution.”
A Focus on Integration and Collaboration Translates to Growth
Back in the early 1990s, when we were listening to our modems dial up the Internet, it may have been tough to predict that the PDF would continue to be useful 20 years later. But, not only is the PDF still relevant, it is adaptable thanks to Foxit.
With its connected functionality, integrations with everyday applications, and secure dissemination, Foxit’s software has enabled the PDF to be at the forefront of business. But what Foxit is most excited about is the innovation yet to come as the company moves forward.
That passion could be heard in David’s voice when he told us: “We have some more great plans for the future. With 425 million users, we expect adoption to be rapid when we roll out new features.”
No matter what the future holds for Foxit, it has already brought PDF technology a long way in 15 years. Foxit saw the Portable Document Format’s real potential and moved it into a connected, fast-paced future.