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How to Transform Imprisoned Information into Business Assets

How to Transform Imprisoned Information into Business Assets

A Nintex study discovered that document-based information was among the top broken business processes in the U.S. Forty-nine percent of employees surveyed said they had trouble locating documents. Forty-one percent said they had trouble finding and pulling data from documents.  If you can’t find the document you need, or find the necessary data within that document, you’ve got imprisoned information.

Business information is a powerful asset. Gartner has identified 6 distinct measures of the value of information, as the table below illustrates. The financial measures of information assets are particularly applicable to paper vs. digital documents. In thinking about your company’s paper documents, what would it cost to lose documents and all the information they contain? More important, what does it cost if you can’t access the information and use it in a timely manner? If your business information is imprisoned on hard-to-locate paper, it’s an asset with very little value.

The first step to change imprisoned information into a valuable asset? Digitize the paper documents where the information resides. A simple scan of a paper document creates a digital PDF document. But a PDF scan doesn’t transform the information into an asset. It’s not much easier to find and use information on a PDF document than it is on a paper document.

Searchability is the key to unlocking imprisoned information.

Adding searchability to scanned documents requires a complex OCR (Optical Character Recognition) process. Once the digital documents complete the OCR process, the multi-page PDF’s are searchable. The information contained in the digital documents is easy to access and easy to find.

And with easy searchability, the information is no longer imprisoned. Searches are fast and accurate. Business decisions can be made quickly, with a high degree of confidence. And that’s worth money. The information is now a valuable asset, whether you focus on foundational measures or financial measures in the Gartner method.

Like any other asset, information should be securely guarded. Paper documents are vulnerable to fire, water, pests, and pilferage. Digital documents, however, are far more secure.

Simplicable.com defines “information asset” as a body of information that is of value to a business. No matter what those bodies of information are – strategies, operations, legal, R&D, and more – they gain value when the information is unlocked via digitization. Talk to a digitization consultant about this easy way to boost the value of your company’s assets.

 

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Room for Everything: The Shape of Hybrid Office Interiors

Room for Everything: The Shape of Hybrid Office Interiors

Two years into the pandemic aftermath, the hybrid workplace continues to shape the way businesses operate. And businesses, in turn, are shaping their offices to fit the new hybrid workplace. Return to the office (RTO) is surging, but employees are pushing back against full-time RTO. What’s clear is there is value in in-person work, and there’s equal value in remote work, and offices are being re-shaped to accommodate both workstyles.

As reported in FastCompany.com, business-social media company LinkedIn is one of the many businesses adapting their office interiors for hybrid work. Their architects, NBBJ, created a “postures matrix” that guides furniture and layout choices. Design decisions are made based upon the time spent in a particular space, the type of work done there, and the associated ergonomic needs.

The postures matrix showed that the most social places are close to doorways and entries. As people move deeper into the space, work areas become increasingly quieter. Options for heads-down focused work, living room-style conference rooms, and “buzzy” co-working areas provide something for everyone, depending on their needs on any given day.

Like LinkedIn, other businesses may be trying to re-shape their existing offices to make them more hybrid-friendly. Some are concerned that they will need to expand their office footprint, and their budgets are not prepared for additional real estate costs. Luckily, there are design strategies that can support a hybrid redesign without the need for additional space:

  • Convert paper documents to digital documents via imaging, and reduce your document storage area. Imaged documents are productivity boosters, whether staffers are in the office or working remotely. And many of the imaged documents do not need to be retained as paper, freeing up room for interior re-design.
  • Exchange traditional filing cabinets for a high-density filing system, and save as much as 50% of your storage floor area. While imaging will reduce the need for much document storage, some paper docs need to be retained. Keep them in a high-density filing system and save even more space.
  • Add touchless smart lockers that guide in-office traffic while enhancing design aesthetics. Employees without dedicated workspaces need secure storage for personal items in the office. Touchless smart lockers’ customizable finishes make them a design feature, and they can be set up in work areas to provide sound separation and guide traffic. No extra space required.

For many companies, the traditional office is fading away and the hybrid workplace is taking its place. Office interiors will need to be revised to support hybrid work, but these smart moves help keep the costs manageable. Talk to a storage expert to find out how to do a space-saving cost-saving redesign.

 

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Be Careful What You Ask For. You Just Might Get It.

Be Careful What You Ask For. You Just Might Get It.

The pandemic revealed that remote work was not only possible, it was productive. And it was appealing to employees. They leveraged the Great Resignation to keep on working remotely, or at least working on a flexible hybrid schedule. Remote and hybrid work had benefits for employers, too, who downsized their offices and reduced overhead. It was a win for everyone.

Now that employers and employees have what they asked for, how is it working out?

The results are mixed. Although 83% of employees want a hybrid workplace, a recent report from JLL Global Research found that hybrid workers don’t feel properly supported in their new workstyle. The open office design is not optimal, particularly for staffers who come to the office expecting to do focused, heads-down work. Some find hot-desking to be problematic. For others, information access is a problem; teams on flexible schedules have difficulty sharing documents and other print resources, especially when those documents are removed to home offices.

Managers and administrators are tinkering with adjustments to office layouts and scheduling apps, but some technologies, digital document technology in particular, are proving their value in companies with hybrid operations.

In one example reported by the Washington Post, a construction company discovered that hybrid work gave them a competitive advantage. The company “had never considered a hybrid or remote model for the 40-plus back-office employees … But when the pandemic hit, the company adapted, jettisoning cumbersome workflows that required staff to pass files around the office, and adopting a streamlined cloud provider.”

That new information flow has allowed the company to expand their operations from a single urban region to a multi-state territory. Moreover, not one employee has been lost to the Great Resignation. The Washington Post doesn’t specify the dollar value of increased sales and reduced hiring and training costs, but the benefits are apparent.

Any unplanned change takes time and testing to work out the kinks, and pandemic-pushed hybrid workstyles are no exception. Your business, like others, may be trying out a variety of imaginative solutions – mandated in-office days, more enclosed offices,  or one of the many workstation-scheduling apps. But document digitization needs no trial period to prove its worth. Ask a business owner who has moved from paper to digital operations, then talk to a digitization professional. With digital document technology, you will solve one of the hybrid-operations conundrums – information access – and set your business up for future success.

 

Photo © Robert Kneschke / AdobeStock

Paperwork Isn’t in Order? Document Digitization Can Fix That.

Paperwork Isn’t in Order? Document Digitization Can Fix That.

If you work in logistics, you know all about the piles of paperwork that accumulate with any shipment. And with all that paper come the inevitable slowdowns when a document is missing or damaged, and has to be re-created. Supply chain slowdowns are a hot topic, and paperwork is part of the problem.

According to an analysis by IBM and shipping giant Maersk, nearly 200 documents were generated for a single shipment of flowers from Kenya to the Netherlands. Each document – bills of lading, Statements of Fact, and an array of certificates – represents a potential bottleneck in the smooth flow of shipments. In an industry where timeliness matters (and really, are there any industries in which time isn’t of the essence?), paper documents are a threat to business.

Digitized documents are now beginning to reduce the mountain of paper that accompanies shipments. One test of logistics digitalization, including digitized documents, reduced the usual 2-week border clearance to one day – an extraordinary improvement.

The logistics sector isn’t the only one seizing the opportunity for more efficient paper management. Government agencies, healthcare, public safety, and the legal system are all benefiting from document imaging, or digitization – converting paper documents to digital ones. Digitization creates “smart documents:” a database of secure, searchable digital documents accessible from anywhere.

Digitization speeds up operations in two ways:

  • The correct digital version of any paperwork can be located and retrieved with electronic speed. No more long delays spent digging through files or archives.
  • A document’s digital version is securely stored. It doesn’t disappear under a desk, or get damaged by insects, or become illegible due to a spilled cup of coffee.

Digitization has other benefits besides operational speed and efficiency. It reduces the need for storage space, as it eliminates the needs for numerous filing cabinets. It is accessible from anywhere, whether an employee is on another floor in a building, or working from home. It cuts down on physical paper usage and the associated business and environmental costs.

But if time is critical to your business, document digitization is guaranteed to save time in retrieving documents, and in preserving documents safely for future use. With digitization, your ship will certainly come in.

 

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How a Hybrid Workplace Grew a New Corporate Culture

How a Hybrid Workplace Grew a New Corporate Culture

While the rest of us have been obsessing about what hybrid workplaces are doing to corporate culture, one D.C.-headquartered office has been quietly getting on with the transition. And in the process, they’ve created a hybrid-office proof of concept: With good planning, good design, and employee input, corporate culture is even stronger and more positive than before.

Journalist Rasheeda Childress recently reported on a national association’s shift to a hybrid workspace. The association was looking at new office space when the pandemic hit, and like everyone, they flipped to remote work. In conversations with employees, leadership realized that that a permanent shift in office life was in the works.

Based on employee input, the association established an updated set of criteria for their new offices, with flexible scheduling in mind. Now the association’s new space includes reservable “hoteling” offices as well as dedicated offices, with an overall space reduction of more than 15%. To address corporate culture, they established new employee designations designed to remove manager bias regarding staff productivity. Employees were classified as “resident workers,” in the office at least 3 days per week, or “teleworkers,” in the office at least 1 day per week.

The association’s director has discovered that connectedness is the secret to the organization’s successful transition to hybrid. He reports that his staff interactions have radically increased; he and his staff have to “wander around” to find the person they need to speak with, and in the course of the search, have serendipitous conversations with a dozen other people. Staff events, like a weekly free lunch, ensure employees have frequent interactions with people outside their team bubbles.

At NOS, we’ve been promoting the value of connectedness for some time. Digitization is part of the connected-culture picture. Document conversion gives teams access to documents wherever they are. Teams stay connected whether they’re in-office or working from home. Everyone is included, and everyone’s work is optimized.

Productivity and effectiveness rely on connection, and document accessibility supports connection. If your employees are telling you they want the flexibility of a hybrid workplace, consider this association’s path: Listen to employees’ ideas, work with designers to create flexible physical space, and provide technology and opportunities that promote connectedness. Your corporate culture will change for the better.

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Getting Ahead of the Life Sciences Compliance Curve

Getting Ahead of the Life Sciences Compliance Curve

Life sciences regulatory compliance doesn’t end at the walls of the research lab, the clinic, or the pharmacy. Every aspect of life science operations, from sales and marketing to education, training, and lab operations, is subject to regulations, and new or revised regulations are being issued on a near-daily basis. With pages and pages of documentation to read through, business leaders and compliance officers simply don’t have the time to onboard all the new information, much less enforce the rules.

Lately, however, AI technology has been assisting life sciences businesses to assimilate new and revised regulations without having to spend valuable time reading volumes of regulatory documentation. New AI apps extract critical information from the documentation and deliver it in a kind of “readers digest” form. Compliance officers can then apply these actionable insights to their operations.

But that still leaves a pile of internally-generated documents for a compliance officer to comb through, searching for non-compliant language. Sales and marketing literature, training manuals, and educational materials are all vulnerable to compliance issues. Parsing the content in these printed materials is just as time-consuming and error-prone as reading the regulatory documents.

Digital technology comes to the rescue here, too, in the form of document conversion. Digitizing the printed materials creates a searchable database. When a new regulation is issued, the AI app outputs a condensed pertinent version. Then the keywords of the condensed regulation can be matched against the keywords of the digital document database. Outdated or conflicting documents can be flagged automatically, and new compliant documents can be generated quickly.

And in the event of an audit, speedy retrieval of documents shortens the audit and gives auditors confidence in the overall management of records. Digitized documents are delivered with electronic speed, far faster than staffers can locate paper documents in filing cabinets or archived storage.

The average cost for non-compliance is over $14 million. No life sciences business, large or small, wants to pay such enormous costs. Incorporate AI and document digitization into your compliance protocol, and keep that money where it belongs: in your profits.

 

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