Paper documents in the digital era

Vivek Naidu, Vice President, Information Management, Kodak Alaris India

This article highlights an understanding of the new rules of digitalization across input management, efficiency, automation of routines, end-to-end processes, shared re­sources, concurrent license models and decentralization.

Digital transformation affects modern day enterpris­es – it determines the competitiveness and social impact of business. The next decade will showcase who will be among the digital winners and who would have missed the bus – however, the course must be set now.

Digital transformation is defining the value of information. It is rewriting the rules for the way we handle paper documents to derive intrinsic information value from them.

Here are few ways businesses can digitalize a wide variety of paper documents, in an uncompromisingly easy way and as early as possible, to drive greater efficiency.

Digital transformation begins with the first scan!

Input management is one of the most essential and central process­es of a digital transformation strategy. Across all sectors, paper is a ‘show stopper’ and ‘cost driver’. It is necessary to completely avoid this disruption or to move digitalization as near as possible to where the paper enters the organization. Due to increased manual effort, paper produces the highest costs and the largest loss of time. In today’s era of near real-time communication, this is no longer a viable scenario. When you take a close look at all paper-based operations, most of them are recurring routine operations, which can be easily automated; and thus made more efficient.

You should always keep your eyes on the big picture in conjunction with ECM, ERP, CRM and other central applications of your company. Always view your busi­ness transactions from “end-to-end”. The first step of the digital transformation is the digitalization of paper doc­uments.

The new rules of document capture

1) Eliminate media disruptions – focus on end-to-end digital processes!

Apart from paper-based processes being expensive, they even inhibit digital transformation. In this case the solution only ends up being digitalization of paper doc­uments, where they accrue. Create a kind of “paper fire­wall”, so that costly paper-based operations do not enter business processes in the first place.

2) The future belongs to browser-based capturing and mobile apps

With web-based (browser-based) and mobile capturing methods, any employee can digitalize paper documents, anytime and anyplace, independent of hardware and op­erating systems. There is no need to install any addition­al software on the terminals of employees. The software only runs centrally on servers, which considerably reduces the expenditure of IT infrastructure and administration.

3) The new freedom: ‘Wireless’

Wireless devices, such as innovative scanners, offer enor­mous advantages: These can be ‘shared resources’, i.e. flexible, network connected, and capable of being used by many employees. Here, significant cost savings can be realized because administration is handled centrally and their use can be monitored via a browser.

4) Modern license models

In the past, transaction and volume-based license models have dominated. This is usually a good payment model for manufacturers but for the user it is sometimes rath­er problematic. Especially with fluctuating volume, it is difficult to reliably calculate the costs. The so-called flat rate or “concurrent” license models, in which licenses are shared, will become the rule.

5) Decentralized capture complements the central input management

Whereas central input management was ‘state of the art’ in the past, due to the trend of ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD), which is driving more use of mobile devices at work, decentralized capture will play an increasingly important role in the future. Centralized scanning will be complemented in the future, by efficient distributed capture via web browsers and mobile capture devices.

Using the right tools

Within a digital transformation strategy, web- or brows­er-based capture is one of the strongest trends in the mar­ket. Browsers are now available at any time at any place to any user and are an integral part of any terminal or mobile device. This is exactly the correct condition for maximum flexibility. Therefore, browser-based scanning systems will be used more frequently in the future for scanning and capture.

Paper becomes the spoilsport

One thing is clear: no company, regardless of size, can afford paper-based processes in addition to digital busi­ness applications. The fundamental question is, when and how can the paper documents be digitalized?

Central capture has, in most cases, been sufficient. But in the age of real-time communication and high cus­tomer expectations, decentralized digitalization is an ab­solute must. This is exactly why there are new scanning technologies and solutions that simply, efficiently and se­curely integrate paper documents directly into electron­ic processes, independent of the application or available hardware.