Unlocking the power of paper documents for your enterprise

By Cássio Vaquero, Regional Director, Information Management division, for Asia-Pacific and Latin America Kodak Alaris

Even in this digital age of cloud computing and big data, the stacks of paper documents that sit atop your office desk still hold tremendous power. Power that can streamline processes, increase operational efficiency and transform your enterprise into a well-oiled machine.

Unfortunately, most leaders don’t see that value in paper. In fact, even employees are known to have a negative perception of paper-based processes. A study conducted by a reputable software company shows that more than half of the respondents deemed paper to be a hindrance to productivity. The survey also revealed that an overall negative attitude towards these procedures exists amongst those surveyed.

With so much ‘bad press’ around good ol’ paper, it is high time we explore how to intelligently manage your enterprise’s deluge of paper to increase productivity, enhance Customer Relations Management, data analytics operations and disaster recovery procedures.

Understand data sources and raw information

Today’s enterprises face an overwhelming amount of inbound information in the form of structured and unstructured data. Structured data consists of information that can be more easily organized by traditional databases. The problem is the influx of unstructured data tends to outweigh its counterpart.  For example, in the healthcare sector, almost 80 percent of medical data is unstructured[1].

Paper documents such as invoices, faxes and receipts that organizations encounter on a daily basis, are common forms of unstructured data that – when not handled properly – can reduce operational efficiency. Enterprises must understand that since physical documents are a main source of unstructured data, tackling them from the get-go can halt the onset of information management problems arising from paper.

Streamline paper-based workflow processes

Intelligent document capture is key to improving paper-based workflow processes. Ironically, the first step to that is taken by enabling efficient scanning of hardcopy documents. That first step is so straightforward, most people tend to overlook its potential to enhance the speed of their company’s operations. Key factors such as scanning speed, paper size, paper jam detection and quality capturing of image and information are often considerations left out when investing in scanners.

Apart from simply scanning and converting hardcopy materials into softcopy versions, the digitized assets must also become fully searchable electronic documents. Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology is key for this stage as it allows the digitized assets to have their contents recognized not just by human users, but by artificial intelligence (AI). Enabling AI to ‘read’ digital copies of paper documents streamlines workflow processes and enable various users in the enterprise to effortlessly harness information stored in the original paper files.

Reap the benefits in real-time

Intelligent document capture results in the optimization of paper-based workflow processes and benefits certain departments such as customer service, IT and the data analytics team.

For example, valuable information submitted by a customer through paper forms can now be rapidly archived and integrated to a CRM database. The integration will provide customer service officers with a more holistic view of their company’s interactions with said customer and enable the officers to tailor their responses accordingly.

From a disaster recovery standpoint (DR), IT can also stand to benefit. The irony of most company’s DR strategies is that paper assets – including those that contain mountains of crucial information – tend to neglected during backup. Compared to creating duplicates of digital data, copying paper documents and easily finding the information stored is feat unachievable by most I.T departments. With intelligent document capture, the backing up of paper documents becomes seamless and can be a natural part of DR.

Last but not least, because raw information from disparate paper sources can be easily extracted and converted into useful data, the analytics team of any enterprise will be able to have more fuel to gain actionable insights from.

Time to rethink paper

In essence, paper documents still hold tremendous weight for enterprises today. Leaders should rethink the role of paper and the value of information stored within their hardcopy assets. By leveraging intelligence document capture, enterprises can enhance their information management process by streaming paper-based workflow sequences. Such optimization can benefit the enterprise’s Customer Relations Management, Disaster Recovery and data analytics strategy.

[1] http://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ians/beyond-it-hadoop-can-help-india-s-healthcare-115022000178_1.html

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