Business Transformation

Smarter data capture: the key to simpler information management

Cut inefficiency and support transformation

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Data management chaos

Information is a powerful asset in the world of business. It powers boardroom decisions. It helps CFOs predict earnings. It allows CEOs to take the pulse of their organisation and spot an ailment before it becomes fatal. While every company has ambitions to become more ‘data-led’ and ‘insight-driven,’ many are hampered by issues in managing the information flowing in and out of their organisation. In fact, almost a quarter (23%) of businesses describe their management of inbound information as ‘chaos’[1]. Even more worryingly, 34% say poor information governance leaves their organisation vulnerable to litigation[2].

Why is managing information so challenging? Ultimately, because of the vast amount of it we are now having to deal with. The data explosion is real[3]: in 2010, two zettabytes (or two billion terabytes) of data were created worldwide; for 2020, the anticipated figure is 50.5 zettabytes; for 2025, projections suggest the volume will have risen to 175 zettabytes. Traditional ways of processing this information are now creaking under the pressure. So how can companies ease this immense strain? One of the simplest ways is to look at the first step – how it is captured.

Data entry: evolving but still present

If we go back to the days before computers, capturing information meant manual documentation. Documents, such as invoices, application letters and communications with customers arrived through the post. This paper-based information was opened, read and filed, and employees spent their time entering it into logbooks and ledgers.

Since the advent of computing, the process of data entry has been digitised, with employees entering information into spreadsheets and digital templates. Yet businesses still receive information in multiple formats, from physical paper to PDFs. This part-digitisation, or hybrid environment, adds to the complexity of information management in a modern business.

Employees bear the brunt of this challenge, spending valuable time copying information from print documents into digital templates, and scanning them to ensure they can be archived in digital storage records. Even data from already-digital documents such as PDFs must often be manually transferred into the correct templates for processing. These admin-heavy workflows have widescale ramifications, adding up to company-wide inefficiencies.

A guide to better information management

Discover how to manage your data better, and optimise document capture and processing

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How to boost efficiency

IT departments have an important role to play in addressing this issue. One of the simplest ways of doing so is to evaluate how data is captured within their organisation. How can company information workflows be built around the realities of a hybrid environment? Ultimately, every business is moving towards an increasingly digital future, so the focus should be on standardising information into centralised digital formats, which offer more value to the business.

Fortunately, advances in capture technology are removing the need for manual data input and transfer.

Extracting intelligence

Advances in AI and data extraction technology - such as optical character recognition (OCR) to transliterate written information in structured and unstructured formats – make it possible to extract value from any type of document. Whether it’s a digital or physical document, advanced capture solutions can extract content from any document and turn it into ready-to-use data.

This process also makes locating information from these documents much more straightforward because data can be indexed. By making this data easy to locate, extract and process, capture solutions open up other opportunities, for example, enabling easier document analysis and more secure storage. If information within a document is tagged or indexed, it becomes easier to apply rules about security and compliance requirements for storing those documents.

Most crucially, by automatically extracting data from documents of multiple, disparate formats, intelligent capture solutions can dramatically cut the time staff spend on manual admin tasks such as data entry.

Time for transformation

Employees estimate they waste around a quarter of their day doing admin[4]; for any organisation it should be a priority to transform this time into value-driving activity. Inefficiency remains a common and engrained issue in modern companies, but there are simple ways to counter this and smarter capture is a crucial element.

For IT teams considering where to invest, the best approach is to identify the document-heavy departments who spend excessive amounts of time in data entry and processing. These are the departments in which investment in better capture and automation technology can drive real value to the business, to speed up processing, lower operational costs, increase security and lead to improvements in overall efficiency.

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