Why paper document capture is the missing piece of the big data puzzle

Millions, billions, trillions, terabytes, petabytes, zettabytes – these are just some of the ways big data is being quantified. But it’s easy to get lost in the, well, data. So, to answer the perennial question, how do companies get at the valuable knowledge behind these numbers?

The answer lies in digital transformation, but where is the best place to start?

There’s still a vast amount of data stored in paper files that businesses aren’t harnessing, ready to be digitised. The first step can be to scan paper documents to a digital format and then apply information management solutions to start making sense of that data.

In addition to captured data, there’s also unstructured and semi-structured data that comes from a variety of resources: call detail record, system logs and social media sites.

> See also: 4 digitisation trends that will define IT

But document management in the era of digital transformation means more than a paperless office. The data in those documents needs to be a part of the business processes so that it’s not suffering the same fate as it did in the paper-based world.

There are five steps to unlocking the potential customer gold mine your company’s sitting on, are they are:

Making the investment in the right tools, choosing between decentralised versus centralised scanning, designing capture around your organisation’s silos, streamlining business processes through automation, and making the cognitive leap.

According to the recently published report Big Data and Advanced Analytics Survey 2015, Volume I by Evans Data Corporation software & computing (18%), financial (11.6%), manufacturing (10.9%) and retail (9.8%) industries have the highest percentage of programmers creating big data and analytics applications today. But what does this mean for other industries who are perhaps missing these opportunities in big data?

With the right tools and solutions, businesses are unlocking information from digital and paper sources, understanding and extracting valuable insight from the contents, and delivering the right information to the right people at the right time.

On top of this though, organisations need to implement best practices to make sense of the seemingly endless stream of content and crucial information hidden in various documents.

Turn scanning into an asset

Information is a depreciating asset and often the data contained within documents to be input into business transactions has an expiry date. It’s important for information from documents to be promptly on boarded by capitalising on the advantage of digital documents.

Scanning solutions can either be centralised or distributed, a decision which is dictated by what fits best with process design and current infrastructure at the organisation. For a centralised capture solution incoming documents are routed to a mailroom, digitised and classified and then forwarded directly to the relevant employee or business process.

Distributed scanning, best suited for organisations with offices and employees dispersed globally, allows documents to be captured quickly and easily while reducing storage costs and improving security.

> See also: Research shows we're no close to the 'paperless office' – so what happened?

Designed document capture

Capture is where the big data journey begins. The faster, more accurate and more secure the information flows from paper into organisations, the better the outcomes.

By designing your document capture and scanning approaches with the challenge of siloed environments in mind, your company is able to best choose the right capture strategy. Capturing and extracting content in the fastest, smartest and most cost-efficient way.

Business process automation is key

Empowering workers, such as customer service reps or knowledge workers in a specific line of business context (as in transactional scanning), also means helping them focus on the creation of value.

Removing simple but repetitive tasks, such as having staff manually entering or checking data, leaves them more time to focus on more complex and higher value-generating tasks, while also providing them with a higher level of engagement, just by automating the workflow.

Structured forms are highly predictable and the data that needs to be extracted is in a pre-defined position. By programming rules and keywords or by using a barcode, the solution knows what type of information is available on the document and where.

Adopting intelligent solutions for document capture unlocks the power of business information, which is the lifeblood of your organisation. It’s a journey that requires multiple steps, but successfully navigating it reaps significant rewards.

Sourced from Jason Howard, Northern Cluster Manager, Kodak Alaris

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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