South African organisations are on the cusp of a digitisation evolution. To remain efficient and competitive, they need to work smarter, security needs to be tighter, and work processes need to be more automated, says Altron Document Solutions. The digitisation of data on paper and paper-based processes is one of the many important steps in this direction.
Digitisation is not a new concept, but the tools and technologies available today make it more viable, affordable and accessible than at any time in the past. In fact, advanced digitisation solutions are already built into some of the smart printing and production press solutions many organisations are already using as part of their business workflow.
There are five key components to most digitalisation workflows, and while it’s not essential that every organisation makes use of each of these, it is important to understand how they fit together and how they can benefit your business.
1. Capturing data
The first step to any digitisation process is data capture — or, put simply, converting physical media to digital formats. This can be as basic as scanning a document and saving a digital copy, to batch-processing dozens if not hundreds of documents and records into digital repositories.
The easier it is to capture information, the more likely the digitisation strategy will take hold and deliver results. There are of course various data sources within a business. Capturing information from these various (often discrete) sources requires a capture service that goes beyond device-based scanning. These include capturing information from Web browsers and mobile devices.
Whichever method, software or hardware, is used to capture information, it needs to be part of a broader intelligent workflow if you want it to deliver results and be seamless, efficient and secure.
2. Automating data capture
Making capture services effortless to the user requires some form of automation. This helps save time, eliminate repetitive processes and allows your staff to focus on more valuable tasks in their workday. Automation can be all-encompassing or done in smaller increments, like scanning a document directly to a repository instead of first scanning it to e-mail and then saving it to the cloud.
By automating those in-between steps, valuable minutes are saved, which add up to major efficiency gains.
Automation alone is not enough to make digitisation easy and accessible. Your staff (and customers) must be able to digitise from anywhere using multiple devices, all linked back to your central digital repository.
Distribution tools give your users the power to move paper documents into digital workflows by capturing data from multifunction printers or mobile devices into a central repository. This helps streamline time-consuming post-capture tasks like redaction, proofreading and translation, and convert paper documents into a range of versatile formats, including audio files.
By giving your workforce access to distributed capture and workflow applications, you empower them with the tools they need to seamlessly integrate digitisation into their daily routines that perform in the office and on the go.
4. Content management
Once you have enabled easy capture, automation and distribution services, you need a way to store and share information with your workforce and customers. This is where an effective content management platform comes into play.
What you’ll need is a suitable cloud-based or on-premises platform that manages the storage, retrieval and retention of documents and encrypted data. The right platform will help you capture, index, store and retrieve paper and digital documents from any source, and categorise, organise and manage your business content throughout its lifecycle in a secure, central repository.
The right platform will also allow your teams to collaborate on individual documents, especially as we move into a “new normal” of distributed teams working from home. It will also give you the tools you need to manage your workflows centrally, making your business processes more predictable, trackable and efficient.
Finally, the digitisation solution you choose should let you take the extra step of working with your digital information intelligently using analytics.
For example, analytics tools will give you insight to printing behaviour, applications used and chargeback codes, so you can better manage how your workforce operates and fine-tune your business processes — and costs — accordingly. You can also use document analytics to explore the reasons people print, uncover opportunities for digitisation, and realise real cost savings through process improvements throughout the organisation.
Analytics elevates your entire digitisation process from one that saves times and money to one that helps your business innovate, expand and create new revenue streams, often with the tools you already own and use every day.
Digitisation is a critical first step toward creating intelligent workflow solutions for your business. Using the right tools, adding automation and distribution capabilities, and leveraging the power of analytics and AI, your business can and should:
- Automate manual processes to save time and lower costs;
- Enhance team collaboration with access to content from anywhere, anytime;
- Speed decisions by making data more accessible; and
- Reduce errors and improve compliance through auditable workflows.
About Altron Document Solutions
Altron Document Solutions (ADS) is Africa’s leading document management technology and services company and the largest Xerox distributor in the world. It is the authorised Xerox distributor in 26 sub-Saharan African countries offering the complete range of Xerox document equipment, software solutions and services. ADS forms part of JSE-listed Allied Electronics Corporation (Altron).
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