“Step into the future!” You may be hearing that phrase frequently if the organization you lead is using paper-based processes. Digitizing your paper documents is a smart move, taking information off the paper and making it accessible, secure and very, very compact. But before you take that step, you’ll probably want to know exactly what goes into the document conversion procedure.
Step 1: Assessment
Before any documents are scanned, a digitization team meets with management to learn about the types of paper documents your organization uses, and the types of information those documents contain, such as:
- Customer information
- Contracts and licenses
- Action status
- Payment records
- Corporate records
- Building and facilities information
- PII and any other sensitive information
The assessment establishes document conversion priorities – the order in which documents are digitized – and the timeline for the conversion. It also sets up a chain-of-custody protocol, ensuring the confidentiality and security of documents as they go through the conversion process.
Additionally, the assessment gathers information on the metadata and indexing schemes that will be applied during the scanning process. This is particularly important because it will allow for efficient retrieval of content.
Step 2: Scanning and Metadata Tagging
With the project completely organized, the digitization team begins the scanning process, carefully removing documents from files and scanning them in a high-capacity scanner. OCR scanning software builds searchability into the documents as they are scanned.
Expertly-customized metadata schemes enhance searchability by adding more identifying information to each document, such as:
- Date of creation
- Type of document
- Document owner (individual, department, etc.) and creator
- Document lifespan (date when document can be destroyed)
At the end of the scanning process, each batch of digitized documents is run through Optical Character Recognition, allowing for full text search of key letters, words, or phrases.
Step 3: Export to Content Management Platform
The digitized documents now move to an enterprise content management platform which manages access and activity permissions, file organization, security, and records retention policies. With your paper documents now transformed to digital files, your records managers can remove the bulky paper files and space-consuming filing cabinets from your offices, freeing up space for more profitable activities.
The benefits of digital documents:
- Space-saving, maximizing the workspace and reducing real estate costs
- Searchable, saving time and improving productivity
- Secure, controlling access to sensitive information
- Accessible from multiple locations, keeping in-house and remote workers productive
- Sustainable, reducing paper consumption and waste
With a clear understanding of the conversion process, you can make a well-informed decision. Your organization will start benefiting from digitization as soon as you take the first step.
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Art crime is the third highest-grossing criminal business in the world, according to Art Business News. Art can be forged. It can be stolen. It can even be “discounted” via price tag switching. In fact, art is subject to all the security issues of any retail product sold in department stores – but with a much, much higher price tag.
- Fakery – Modern art in particular is a forger’s paradise, as portrayed in the documentary film “Made You Look.” Provenance (chain of custody) is important to art buyers, but imperfect provenance can be disregarded in the heat of an emotional purchase. In “Made You Look,” a single gallery owner was so eager to acquire works of noted modern artists that she overlooked their questionable provenance, resulting in a multi-year $80 million fraud.
- Theft – Museums and private art collections aren’t the only places where fine art is found. Corporations, too, have significant investments in art. Deutsche Bank, for example, owns works by Kandisky, Mondrian, and Francis Bacon. Unlike heavily-guarded museums and private homes, these works are on office walls where they are far more vulnerable to theft. Although corporations avoid the negative publicity associated with a theft of one of their artworks, it is an unfortunately common occurrence.
- Label Switching – Galleries don’t always display the prices of art works, but often a short-term exhibition will include pricing on or beside each piece. Fraudsters will distract the gallerist while confederates change the price, then pressure the harassed gallerist into a quick sale at the fraudulent lower price.
However, collectors and gallerists are increasingly using RFID technology as a way to secure their art investments. RFID excels at asset tracking, providing real-time ongoing data about an asset’s name, location, origin, age, value, components, and its movements (historical and prospective). RFID tags are inconspicuous and don’t detract from the appearance of the art. They don’t damage the artworks in any way. Most important, they protect these priceless objects from loss.
Of course, fine art authentication and asset management is just one of the many ways in which RFID serves business owners. From facilities management to inventory management, ERP, and MES, the data supplied by RFID keeps enterprises productive and profitable. Talk to an RFID expert and learn about the benefits for your business.
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Inflation is the hot topic these days. A perfect storm of bad weather, a pandemic, armed conflict, and supply chain breakdowns have put a price squeeze on consumers and businesses alike. There’s plenty of blame to go around, but finger-pointing isn’t a solution. Instead, smart business leaders are looking to their own operations for ways to mitigate inflationary pressures.
One of those solutions is technology, in the form of better information, increased efficiencies, less waste, and speedier actions. RFID technology in particular addresses these needs, and it’s a tech solution that already exists in many operations. From logistics and retail to healthcare, pharma, public safety, and education, RFID counts objects and tracks their movements with unmatched speed and accuracy.
Here’s how RFID combats inflation:
- Accurate information – RFID’s inventory accuracy approaches 98%, far above any handcount. With accurate information, over-ordering is eliminated, saving time, storage space, and money at a time when conserving funds is exceptionally important. With RFID, a pharmaceutical manufacturer, for instance, doesn’t have to contract for extra warehouse space and over-order in case their inventory isn’t accurate.
- Increased efficiencies – RFID tracks supplies from manufacturer to storage to user, creating an early-warning system for potential stock shortages. Managers can adjust their order timing to account for uncertain supply chains, keeping adequate supplies on hand for operations at all times. Hospitals, for example, can keep a steady supply of medications flowing from their in-house pharmacies into the hands of patients.
- Less waste – RFID provides aging information as well as quantity and location. Whether a business is working with perishables like foods or drugs, or longer-lived items like durable equipment, using operational inventory in a timely manner prevents waste. Return on inventory investment stays high, and inventory losses (and costs) stay low.
- Fast actions – RFID is constantly monitoring an inventory’s quantity, location, and age and delivering actionable data. Managers can react quickly to any opportunity, whether it’s incoming supplies or outgoing products.
Inflation is, in part, a consequence of actions out of our control. RFID puts you back in charge of the things you can control. Use its data to manage better, and stand up to inflation.
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Digitalization and digitization are spelled nearly identically, and they sound nearly alike. They must mean pretty much the same thing, right? Not quite. Although the two terms are often used interchangeably, there’s a significant difference, and it’s one that will help you make the most of your business’s digital transformation.
Digitalization is the utilization of digital technology to reshape business processes. When a business builds a digital database of customers, or installs an RFID system to manage its physical assets, or uses robotics in a manufacturing process, it is engaged in Digitalization.
By contrast, digitization is the act of transforming an object – a document or a photo, for example – from analog (physical) format to digital format. Digitization is a component of an organization’s overall Digitalization. Just as you’d say that not all cars are Fords, but all Fords are cars, you can say that all digitization is part of Digitalization.
And of all the process transformations that Digitalization makes, digitization is one of the top two or three most valuable. Here’s why:
- Digitization enables remote work. The explosive growth of hybrid offices and 100% remote work has been possible because workers have remote access to information contained in digital documents. Everyone can log in and get what they need to get the job done, wherever they are. Productivity is preserved and employees are happy. It’s a win for everyone.
- Digitization improves security. Paper documents are impermanent. Fires, floods, and insects destroy them. They’re easy to damage, easy to lose, and easy to pilfer. Digitized documents, however, are access-controlled and backed up on multiple digital drives. Your business saves all the costs associated with lost documents.
- Digitization saves storage space. File cabinets take up a lot of real estate – 9 square feet per standard cabinet, to be precise. How many does your business have? You can eliminate the cost of all that real estate, or reassign the space for more productive activities. Either way, your bottom line is the beneficiary.
Digitalization is about transforming business processes. Digitization is about transforming the information needed for processes. Now that you know the difference, talk to a digitization expert and add document digitization to your organization’s Digitalization plan.
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Workplace amenities used to be associated with tech start-ups – meals, game rooms, and bring-your-dog-to-work were some of the popular perks that kept tech workers in the office. Why go home when everything you want is there? Today’s newer office buildings are taking a page from the tech world, offering an array of amenities like gyms, concierge services, and lounges.
It’s all part of tenants’ commitment to hybrid offices, a staffing retain-and-return game plan for many companies. Survey after survey shows the same results: Employees do not want to go back to full-time in-office operations. And employers are discovering that the hybrid workstyle has benefits that they don’t want to give up, including greater productivity, lower real estate costs, and happy employees.
Employees are willing to trade space for the hybrid workstyle. More than half of law firm employees recently surveyed said they would trade assigned seating/offices for greater flexibility. That’s good news for employers, who can reduce their office footprint when they don’t have to find space for all their staff each and every day.
The amenities offered by first-class office buildings aren’t free, of course, and a prudent practice manager or facilities manager will try to balance that extra cost by reducing the amount of space in a new lease. The same law firm survey showed the average square feet per attorney has decreased from 760 s.f. to 625 s.f., and other industry sectors are making similar reductions.
But reducing personnel space can only go so far. For many professional practices, paper documents take up an outsize proportion of the office footprint. High density storage systems help reduce the space needed for document storage. Digitization goes even further.
Just one filing cabinet takes up 9 square feet, at an average real estate cost of $540 per year (and that’s before factoring in the higher price of amenity-rich buildings). Document conversion eliminates the need for that space, and the cost associated with it.
Digitization lets you have your cake (or gym or lounge) and eat it too. When employers can offer appealing amenities to encourage staff to return to the office, without increasing their real estate costs, it’s a win for everyone.
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Yes, the hybrid office is here to stay, and with it comes an opportunity to do a beneficial redesign of the workplace. The soulless twentieth century “cube farms” were dehumanizing, but so were the noisy, crowded open-plan offices that replaced the cubicles. Now designers have a chance to create the perfect balance between too claustrophobic and too unstructured. With some thoughtful innovations, the hybrid office can be the happy medium, like Baby Bear’s oatmeal.
Successful hybrid offices counteract the oversharing open office by providing defined work areas for individual heads-down tasks, and for collaborative team projects. But defined, enclosed areas don’t have to make a space feel crowded. Architectural glass walls and partitions retain an open feel while mitigating the noise interference of open office plans. Additionally, they maintain separation to reduce the potential for infections.
Lockers, too, provide attractive space-defining structures that complement other design choices. Like work spaces, lockers can be reserved for use when teams are in the office, and released for others to use later. Touchless locking mechanisms enhance health protocols, too.
A hybrid redesign is about more than the physical space, of course. Emotional welfare is a significant component of the new workplace. People crave sociability, and working in an office is fundamentally a social activity. When staffers are not in the office, they become anxious about their place in the social order. Providing support for the WFH component of a hybrid office demonstrates management’s trust in employees who aren’t routinely present.
And that support is often in the form of technology. Businesses are providing electronic devices – computers, wifi, cell phones – to employees for their WFH days. Just as important are the digital data resources. Paper-intensive work is now being converted to digital formats. Document conversion, or imaging, gives staff access to information no matter where they are physically located. An additional benefit: With fewer documents to store, storage space can be converted to work spaces, without expanding the office footprint.
The Great Resignation of 2021 has spurred much soul-searching at the C-level. The conclusion of many managers: Make the office a place where people want to spend time, make WFH a valued part of the hybrid workplace, and show support by providing productivity tools. A redesign to achieve these goals is a win for workers and financial stakeholders alike.
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