By: Vivek Naidu Vice President -Information Management, Kodak Alaris
Information management and Content Management technologies, which can make important business information available, have been around for decades. Most large and medium size businesses have implemented information management solutions. Yet there are still scores of employees who rely on ad-hoc processes to get the information they need. That is because information is often in siloes or processes require manual interaction.
Company’s information management capabilities and businesses indicate that they were failing to realize the key benefits, which includes providing access to critical business information, sharing information with customers, suppliers and other stakeholders. Today there are some processes that are becoming paperless, but for all intents and purposes we are still dealing with a deluge of paper. Few organizations have reached their goal in reducing it, and even less have embraced a fully digital process. Without digitization, paper remains a bottleneck. Paper continues to be the largest hindrance for unlocking the power of documents. Paper documents are difficult for staff to access, and extracting content is cumbersome and time consuming.
Fortunately, today’s information management solutions are far more sophisticated. However, simply scanning is not enough. Organizations often fail to implement their paper-free initiatives because documents are placed in electronic archives as PDFs and in other forms. These digital archives are about as beneficial as a filing cabinet filled with paper files. No metadata is captured and no information is extracted. Taking the information from a document and on boarding it into an organization as an indexed archive, or directly into the business process ensures that the information is not trapped in the electronic world as it is on paper.
Capture the advantage of digital documents
Information is a depreciating asset and often the data contained within documents to be input into business transactions has a finite shelf life. It is crucial that information from documents enters the organization quickly whether they arrive close to the point of service or otherwise. Promptly on boarding information calls for a range of scanning methodologies. The choice between centralized and distributed scanning often depends on what fits best with process design and current infrastructure. Many organizations have adopted a centralized capture solution, like those having aligned their business processes to route mail directly to a centralized scan center. Incoming documents are routed to a mailroom, digitized and classified, and then forwarded directly to the relevant employee or business process. On the other hand, banks and insurance companies, for example, have offices and agents dispersed globally. This makes transfers of physical documents difficult and expensive, if not impossible. Distributed scanning allows documents to be captured quickly and easily. It can also reduce storage cost and improve security by reducing the risk of unauthorized access to confidential paperwork.
By placing capture devices on staff desktops or in departments, organizations are able to scan documents where the customer or document interaction takes place. This moves information into business processes sooner and can potentially reduce paper. While departmental and workgroup scanning has been possible for more than a decade, advanced scanning features on smaller scanners, improved software, and lower cost equipment make this option progressively more appealing. Both methodologies – centralized and decentralized scanning – are often used simultaneously, depending on the business applications and volumes. Digital-mail delivery, Accounts Payable invoice capture and any other application in which paper documents need to be shared, are candidates for scanning automation. Digitization is one of the major dynamics of this age, with tangible benefits, which were highlighted in a research study by Deloitte5 which proves that digitization increases productivity, quality of communication, transparency and even the morale of employees.
Web-based capture to the rescue
To achieve the full benefits of distributed capture, browser based applications can greatly simplify infrastructure. Many browser applications have benefits that can apply to scanning software, allowing IT departments to maintain applications at the server level. Applications such as OCR can be centrally managed and even moved to 3rd-party cloud providers for more cost effective support, to reduce CPU and memory demands, in a hybrid or full cloud solution. A browser-based interface allows every workstation in the office to be connected with the scanning solution, enabling every employee to capture documents, even those interacting with clients in the front office. Since the browser-based application is updated across every device, each person uses the same software version and training becomes straightforward as a result. Browser-based scanning also facilitates process standardization, regulatory compliance and security by creating the same transactional audit trails and controlling access only to authorized personal. Ideally, browser-based capture is integrated with your Line of Business (LOB) software with a simple ‘scan button’ embedded in your application. This way employees don’t need to know anything about the capture software; the button simply allows documents and information to be scanned directly into the business application, saving both time and training costs.
From records management to dynamic case management
As customer expectations continue to rise and the amount of communication channels grow, creating successful customer interactions is becoming increasingly complex. Companies looking to forge a close relationship with their customers must enable employees to assist customers in their transactions by presenting a sufficient overview of the client’s journey, and deliver consistent messaging and transactional capability to customers across all channels. Understanding, organizing and providing this information, which often comes from numerous systems, is onerous and requires a step forward in process automation.
To meet customer expectations, many companies have already standardized and automated the majority of their routine ‘static’ incoming document processing and are now creating solutions to support dynamic processes. For more complex transactions, Smart Process Applications (SPA), which are focused on ‘human-centric’ processes, provide automation to help people complete processes faster and more accurately. Future solutions will increase the amount of knowledge available to every department in an organization to improve outcomes from top to bottom, including smarter decision making, workforce productivity, and of course, customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Adopting intelligent solutions for Document Capture unlocks the power of business information, which is the lifeblood of an organization. It’s a journey that requires multiple steps, but successfully navigating it reaps significant rewards. There is a solution available to address the specific needs of each business, which vary based on company size, level of automation and market needs.