Data Management

Digital Workplace Solutions: How to Leverage Intelligent Capture & IIM

Companies today are drowning in data. Are you optimizing your digital data with Intelligence Information Management? Discover the benefits of IIM.

More than 328 million terabytes of data are created every day. The mass amount of data, content, and information organizations must manage is unwieldy. Robust and intelligent information management is essential to harness and leverage data.

As more data continues to be generated, captured, copied, and consumed, 79% of those surveyed by the Association for Intelligent Information Management (AIIM) say information management will become even more important over the next two years.

Technology can help, but only in a digital workplace. Document digitization and efficient information management are cornerstones of a comprehensive digital workplace strategy. You can establish a solid foundation for intelligent information capture with advanced document digitization services, but it’s also necessary to promote a workplace culture that embraces digital documents and overcomes natural resistance to change.

The Road to Intelligent Information Management

Let’s take a drive on the road to Intelligent Information Management (IIM). This starts with the onramp — creating and capturing your content efficiently. Without the right systems and processes in place, you can quickly hit roadblocks or potholes that can slow you down or cause you to have to shift lanes. 

Without the right workflow and digital mindset, you can also take detours or find off-ramps that lead you in the wrong direction because you don’t have a consolidated and comprehensive set of data points to provide the right insights.

Data may hold the insights you need to grow your business, but leveraging your data effectively depends on doing two things exceptionally well:

  • Intelligent Content Capture: This refers to the ability to use artificial intelligence (AI) to automatically process and categorize incoming information in all forms, extract it, and use it to drive core business processes.
  • Digital Workplace: A digital workplace connects information across organizational boundaries and data silos to democratize data, encourage collaboration, and enable virtual and remote work environments.

Traditionally, capturing and managing information was seen as a secondary task. The main focus was on merely archiving data while the data analysis was the destination. Organizations today, however, recognize the importance of intelligent capture as information enters the organization. Captured data must be complete and accurate to be of value in analysis.

At the same time, privacy and security are essential. Data breaches set records in 2022 and have continued into 2023 at an even higher pace. Nearly 42 million records were compromised in March 2023 alone — a 951% increase from March 2022. As data volume increases, organizations need to prioritize security and privacy compliance to protect sensitive and proprietary data.

Digitizing documents and processing them efficiently requires automated digital workplace solutions. Using AI, machine learning (ML), and natural language processing, organizations can automate time-consuming tasks such as data extraction and categorization, even in mass data collection, to manage data at scale.

Three Key Takeaways

  1. Digital workplace solutions must include the digitization of documents with a well-structured system and not as an afterthought.
  2. With security and privacy concerns front and center, organizations must take proactive steps to assure their data is protected.
  3. Automated processing is essential to managing the volume of data collected, stored, and used.

The Challenge of Unstructured Content

One of the biggest challenges is navigating the gap in your structured data vs. unstructured data. Structured content is defined and searchable, but unstructured data does not have a defined format or organization. You cannot just search for unstructured data in a database. Making unstructured information searches requires translating the data into a machine-comprehensible format.

Unmanaged unstructured content is a significant problem in back-end business processes. IDC reports that unstructured data will comprise 80% of all data by 2025, including:

  • Social media posts
  • Video and voice recording
  • IoT monitoring data
  • Emails
  • Reports
  • Image files
  • Articles
  • Customer reviews
  • Client notes

Disconnected content further complicates things. Many content systems do not connect to other lines of business (LOB) platforms, creating data and information silos. Only slightly more than a quarter of document, content, and records management systems are integrated with core applications.

This challenge is compounding over time. According to AIIM, the number of content, document, and record management systems is growing rapidly. In 2013, organizations used an average of about three systems. By 2023, companies now average nearly five different systems. The biggest growth is among companies that employ 7-10 systems, which accounted for just 3.6% of organizations in 2013 and now stands at 14.4% in 2023.

If companies continue adding to data stores without the proper foundation, intelligent data capture, and intelligent document capture, the challenge will continue to accelerate.

Setting the Right Foundation for Intelligent Capture: 12 Steps

Intelligent capture is more than just a digital workplace trend. It’s quickly becoming a foundational capability for the efficient use of data. So, how do you build the foundation properly? Your suite of digital workplace solutions needs to incorporate the following 12 key steps:

1. Source Identification

Step one is to identify content sources that need to be captured. You’ll want to make sure you look at both digital documents and content that is not in a digital form. Paper, microfilm, old hard copy files, and anything that predates digital capture will need to be examined, as does digital content that may need processing, such as email and unstructured content.

2. Consider Challenges

Given the dynamic nature of digital information, how you capture and record data can vary greatly — and will impact its use, so you need to be aware of the challenges that can arise from harnessing digital information. Do you have the necessary equipment to scan and capture it from physical media? The software to identify unstructured information and make it usable? The experts on staff to handle capture and interpretation of the data?

3. Consistent File Formats

Drawing insights from data requires choosing the appropriate file format for creating and capturing digital documents and data. This allows for consistency, especially when data is needed for correlation or anomaly detection.

4. Review Proprietary Formats

Proprietary file formats may cause challenges as well. You will need to determine the impact of using proprietary file formats on information creation, capture, and access for future use.

5. Consider Data Interpretation Challenges

Evaluate the types of content that provide unique challenges, such as social or email, rich media, audio, or video. Make sure you have a way to capture and process them, such as using a digital asset management system.

6. Manage Structured and Unstructured Data

Make sure you also account for the differences in structured data vs. unstructured data in how you manage it. Structured data is generally stored in organized databases, whereas unstructured data may exist in a big repository such as a “data lake.” Where does data go when you capture it, and how will you structure the storage area?

7. Extraction and Capture

After identifying your sources and formats, the next step is determining the methods you will employ for extracting and capturing data. Which techniques and platforms will work best for your organization?

8. Structured Data Methodology

Establish a consistent methodology for capturing structured data using electronic forms and standardized sets of categorical information.

9. Develop your Process and Policies

Establish your processes for capturing content and document digitization. This includes your end-to-end process for what data to capture, whether it needs approval, and audits.

You must also create data governance policies that control what and how data is collected, stored, and processed. Data governance rules also need to address document retention and disposal, taking into account both internal needs and any regulatory compliance.

10. Decide on Your Capture Strategy

How and when you decide to capture data also needs consideration. For example, will you capture data in real-time, day-forward, or on-demand? Will you do back file conversion to make them available electronically or convert them to a form for database inclusion?

11. Select Appropriate Formats

Choose the appropriate file format for creating and capturing new incoming content based on business requirements, considering factors such as:

  • Depth and amount of content
  • Compression rates
  • User access
  • Need for public access
  • Bandwidth and storage capacity

12. Address File Conversion

Recognize potential issues that can come up with file conversion, including converting different formats or transitioning your analog to digital records.

Key Considerations for the Digital Workplace

Building on these foundational elements, you need to construct your digital workplace solutions to build an effective information management environment for the future.

Remote and Hybrid Work Environments

Despite the current push to return to the office, remote and hybrid work environments are still growing. The Flex report tracks more than 100 million global workers across more than 4,000 companies. In Q2 2023, the number of people working in an office full-time declined from 49% to 42%, while the share of workplaces with hybrid work environments rose from 20% to 30%.

Organizations need to create secure systems to accommodate their workforce regardless of where they work. Document scanning and information management systems can provide organizational support by providing secure, online access to information across the entire company. 

Will authorized users be able to access the data they need to do their job whether they are working at their office desk, at home, or working remotely? Can they easily share and collaborate with co-workers? Can they find the data they need easily without having to navigate through complex file architectures or covert documents themselves?

At the same time, you must be sensitive to the data security challenges associated with a distributed workforce. Remote work can substantially increase the potential for breaches. Employees working at home may have unsecure systems. In fact, one study showed that over the past three years, nearly two-thirds of companies that suffered a data breach attributed it in part due to vulnerabilities exploited as a result of a work-from-anywhere approach.

Organizations need to employ proactive data security, including:

  • Encryption: Encrypt files upon creation
  • Control: Validate the use of data
  • Monitor: Create access and audit trails for actions
  • Centralize: Enforce centralized policies across data

Companies should also enforce zero-trust network access (ZTNA) and the Principle of Least Privilege (POLP). ZTNA assumes a network’s perimeter has been breached and requires reauthentication at every step. POLP only provides access to the minimum level needed to do the job.

The Potential of Automation

Automation is key to digitization, storing, and processing data at scale. While robotic process automation (RPA) is designed to increase productivity by automating low-level and routine tasks, intelligent document management employs automation to streamline processes and foster better human decisions.

Both leverage digital workplace solutions in the modern environment to improve outcomes and work together to facilitate efficiency. A case study by the Shared Services & Outsourcing Network (SSON) found that the scalability of RPA was “unbeatable,” citing that RPA yields a three-year return on investment of some 800%.

Process automation using RPA is one of the least expensive and easier ways to implement cognitive technologies compared to other AI, ML, and deep learning processes. RPA can be an excellent resource during digitization processes, such as document scanning and digital archiving to provide a consistent and uniform collection and storage. RPA also plays a role in the organization and utility of data collection.

Fighting Information Overload

With all of the information that organizations must manage, it’s not surprising that workers are fighting information overload. There’s no shortage of data and it just keeps on coming. There’s so much data that a Forrester research study showed that more than 60% of all data within an enterprise is never used.

Many workers feel the impact of this overload on their productivity. Capturing, converting, organizing, and managing all of that data takes time. While 78% of those surveyed by AIIM in 2023 believe technology is driving the volume, velocity, and variety of data flooding their organization, just 55% believe technology is winning the war against “information chaos.”

In other words, technology is a double-edged sword. Tech enables organizations to drive more data into information management systems, but is it helping control the chaos? If not, you need to examine different digital workplace solutions.

Most companies have a ways to go. For example, less than half of those responding to the AIIM survey believe that they’ll have eliminated paper invoices by 2025. About a quarter actively disagree that paper will go away. Companies can fight information overload by taking a serious look at why paper invoices are still needed and the costs of using them.

Digitization saves millions of dollars and improves efficiency while helping to harness data and avoid information overload.

Take the case of the state of Connecticut. With an expected wave of retirements, officials looked at how they might do things differently to avoid rehiring at every position. Could technology reduce costs dramatically? In the end, they determined they could potentially save $900 million. A large part of those savings came from digitizing and centralizing operations, especially within their human resources department.

Moving Forward

Thoughtful digital workplace solutions will be essential to digitize, organize, and optimize the vast amount of data being collected and analyzed. This is especially important for unstructured data to make it searchable and retrievable through a content management system (CMS).

Scan-Optics’ intelligent data management platform helps streamline information management by eliminating the time-consuming and error-prone process of manually storing, filing, and accessing data. The Scan-Optics platform is powered by easy.forward to create a secure, efficient, and readily accessible information management system. By integrating with your existing systems, you’ll be able to improve workflow and reduce operating costs. Organizations can see as much as a 70% reduction in document processing time with Scan-Optics digital workplace solutions.

Get in touch with Scan-Optics today to learn more about our Intelligent Data Processing solutions. Our expert team is ready to help you reduce the burden of paper, overcome information overload, and gain a competitive edge.

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