For many companies in the Middle East, the biggest challenge when establishing a digital transformation strategy is to determine when and how to digitise paper documents. The decision-making process needs to factor in the requirement to scan legacy files, as well as put processes in place to capture all newly created or acquired information quickly and efficiently.
Historically, scanning through a centralised location has been effective; however, today’s era of near real-time communication and high customer expectations is driving change. There is a pressing requirement to complement (or even replace) centralised scanning by ‘Capturing at the Edge’; by this we mean scanning documents as soon as they enter the organisation, a process that streamlines document workflows and ensures paper-based information is quickly integrated into the business, and is readily accessible for employees to access.
The latest scanning technologies and solutions simply, efficiently and securely integrate hard copy data directly into electronic processes, independent of the application or available hardware.
Capture methods can be defined in three classes:
Early centralised capture
In most medium and large-sized companies, centralised capture has been the norm. Paper documents typically land in a central inbox, usually within the mail room, where they are scanned, classified and routed directly to the relevant business process. However, much of the document capture process is done manually and the costs can soon add up. In fact, an independent study by Kodak Alaris confirmed that 70-80 per cent of the cost associated with document capture is related to preparing and post-handling of documents. This makes streamlining these processes critical to saving money, as well as ensuring valuable information is speedily input into business systems.
Late centralised capture
Late capture means that paper documents are initially physically present in the company and part of the processing of business transactions. Only after completion of said transactions are these documents digitised in a central scanning location and archived.
Decentralised transaction-based capture
Decentralised or distributed capture remedies the spatial and temporal disadvantages of physically moving paper. Individual departments or branches, customers, suppliers, agencies or external staff, can all play a part in a decentralised capture environment.
In a distributed capture environment, documents are captured at the point they enter the organisation, and it is knowledge workers involved in current business transactions, who are charged with converting paper documents into digital format.
This method speeds up business processes, minimises the risk that information gets lost or overlooked, and ensures it is immediately available for further processing, all of which delivers an improved customer experience.
Web-based and wireless capture – true game changers for business
Web-based capture, often referred to as cloud capture or thin client capture, streamlines processes, delivering increased efficiency and overall business value. Thin client software can be deployed and managed centrally via the web. IT support can be centralised making it easier to deploy, upgrade and administer with substantial savings, resulting in higher profitability and return on investment.
Modern wireless and networked desktop scanners are mobile app ready to support BYOD and mobility in the workplace. Individuals can use the mobile app to send documents from the scanner to their mobile devices for portability and easy access when needed.
Given the challenges of today’s business environment, it is web-based capture that offers significant opportunities for game-changing growth. Web-based capture enables documents to be digitised anytime, anywhere and across all devices. It allows employees to focus on clients rather than paperwork, leading to increased customer satisfaction and increased loyalty, and is the way forward for organisations on the road to digital transformation.
David Whitton is the General Manager for Kodak Alaris Information Management – Eastern Cluster (Middle East, Africa, East Europe, Turkey & Russia).