The World of Data Capture continues to move on
One of the easiest and most worthwhile efficiency gains for any business is converting paper documents into their digital equivalents. This form of data capture has been around for many years and countless companies have benefited from electronic information archives instead of rows of filing cabinets. Not only does this take up less floor space and therefore cost, but it also enables easier search, retrieval and sharing of documents when required.
Vast stores of paper have become a thing of the past with the advent of scanners and larger and more cost-effective disk capacities. But now, extra layers of business benefits are available because better use of the data is within reach.
Removing another step in the process
In situations where the receipt of a paper document starts a business process, such as the receipt of an order or invoice, the original act of scanning a document once it had been processed, and then storing it is now being replaced by scanning the document in order to begin processing it. Sometimes known as up-front scanning, digitisation becomes the first step in the business process.
Modern day document scanners are fitted with state of the art cameras that can produce an electronic image that looks even better, sharper and easier to read than the original. It is this image quality that means the information can be read from the page, passed through optical character recognition (OCR) software which then feeds the actual data – the order or the invoice numbers – directly into line of business processing software, such as an accounts package or order processing system.
More efficient use of resources
The automation and integration of these activities means that companies can now allocate their staff to more productive activities, like customer service or sales processes, instead of manually keying paper document information into back-end business systems.
The title of this article suggests that further changes are underway, and indeed they are.
Software improvements now make it possible to import electronic files and to process them together with paper sourced data through the same production platform. Both types of file can now be archived together at the same storage location or be used to initiate a business process. Electronic files take a variety of forms, such as PDF, JPG, BMP, PCX, CAL, TIF, Word documents or Excel spreadsheets but they can all be handled through the same standard processes.
Capture from everywhere, in all forms
Another major change is the ability to scan documents from remote locations and to retrieve them through a web interface. This is known as distributed capture and provides many cost benefits to companies with multiple branch offices or remotely located staff.
In addition, mobile capture is now becoming established with data and images of documents being captured by field workers on the road who can transmit the information back to the office without having to physically go there.
Even social media
It is also possible to gather information from web sites. Routines can be set up to visit websites, search for the required information and return it as a useable file ready for processing. This can even include forums and social media sites, allowing businesses to include what people are saying about their company into business processes.
In summary, data can now been collected, captured and consolidated from most originating sources and be passed into faster, more accurate streamlined processes to begin using the information.
For more information on the latest options available, please contact us.