It’s a classic case of unstructured data: A hospital’s marketing team wanted to contact all the hospital’s patients who had asthma, to promote a new specialty. But most patients’ asthma status was noted only paper documents filled out during admission.
To build a new mailing list of asthmatic patients, the marketing staff would have to search by hand through each and every patient’s paper documents – weeks and weeks of labor, filled with human error and grumbling staffers (“Isn’t this the 21st century?!”). The project was abandoned.
And another opportunity was lost, simply because it was too hard to organize the data.
Unstructured data (data found only on paper, or in various incompatible databases) locks up information that could otherwise contribute to the bottom line. Structured data – a spreadsheet, for instance – is searchable and sortable with electronic speed. Searching and sorting unstructured data requires expensive time-consuming, error-prone manual efforts.
Document imaging is one of the ways that unstructured data is transformed into searchable, sortable structured data.
Don’t mistake imaging for a PDF, however. A PDF is essentially a picture of a document, and it’s no more searchable than the original paper. By contrast, an imaged document can be read by software. Text and numbers can be extracted, sorted, searched, and linked to other data.
With the speed of automation, the imaged information is compiled into a database. It becomes actionable business intel. Every department can access the data, make better decisions, and operate more productively.
Returning to our healthcare-marketing example above, picture a different outcome: Marketing collaborated with IT to spearhead a pilot project, transitioning to imaged patient-admission documents. As they assembled the now-usable data, they realized that they had a treasure trove of marketing information. They stopped missing opportunities to offer additional services to patients who could benefit from them. And they stopped missing additional revenue opportunities.
If your business has paper records, you have unstructured data. Transform it into structured data, via document imaging, and start monetizing the information.
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National Office Systems, Inc. (NOS) of Beltsville, Maryland announces today, January 9, 2023, that Joe Alvarez, Danny Harbison, and a private investment group have acquired Dan Harbison’s ownership shares.
Joe Alvarez and Danny Harbison have partnered together to continue the success that NOS has delivered to the Mid-Atlantic region through innovative solutions that redefine space and manage information. Dan Harbison begins 2023 enjoying his well-earned retirement while his son Danny is enthusiastic about his new role as Partner. “I am fully engaged with driving the process in providing best-in-class solutions. My immediate charge is to continue growing and improving our technology offering to ensure NOS is providing our clients and partners an efficient and effective solution to meet their business needs,” says Danny Harbison, Vice President.
Joe Alvarez and Dan Harbison acquired NOS in 1991 and successfully stewarded the company through significant industry shifts over the past three decades. Starting with High-Density Storage Solutions for their clients, NOS expanded their product portfolio to meet the current and future needs of their clients throughout the years.
RFID Asset Tracking was introduced to assist their clients with increasing inventory control and security for high value physical assets. This offering has transformed their clients’ ability to track what matters most, whether it be storing secure files in a High-Density System or moving equipment and personnel in and out of a facility.
Document Imaging was also introduced to provide a secure way to store documents, creating secure access from remote locations and reducing real estate required for document storage. NOS was an early adopter of this technology and has imaged millions of documents including standard paper sizes, books, specialty plans, and maps.
In 2005, NOS acquired American Installation Services (AIS), an independent furniture installation company, to assist with High Density Storage installations. As the industry shifted again, AIS began installing architectural glass walls and is now one of the premier architectural wall installation companies in the Mid-Atlantic.
Joe Alvarez and Danny Harbison are excited about the future of NOS. Their partnership begins with a vision of growth for the company and expanding the solutions that help their clients organize, manage, and protect resources. “The opportunity to work with Danny as Vice President and Partner is very exciting as he comes with new ideas and a laser-like focus on customer service that will help NOS excel and grow,” says Joe Alvarez, President & CEO.
Official Jan 10 2023 Press release NOS Partnership
Experience informs all stakeholders about the outcome of their decisions. In the case of storage technology, those stakeholders include design consultants, manufacturers, and end users in fields from manufacturing and mining, to museums and medicine.
When prospective users are considering upleveling their storage technology, theories are all well and good, but the proof of the pudding is in the real world. Nothing beats a case study to demonstrate real-world experience. With that in mind, here is a selection of storage tech case studies that decision-makers can relate to:
- Government Agency Document Storage – Lack of storage space made organization and timely retrieval of documents an extreme challenge, deflecting the agency from its primary mission. A better storage system offered an answer.
- Electrical Utility Asset Management – Keeping adequate quantities of operational tools and supplies on hand was difficult, and left the utility unprepared for standard maintenance or emergencies. An inventory technology solution proved to be the management key.
- Museum Archives Storage – A continuing stream of artifacts and archival materials was straining this museum’s storage capacity. The solution took its storage in a new direction, doubling the museum’s warehouse capacity without expanding its footprint.
- Professional Association Document Archiving and Preservation – With many of its research documents in a fragile condition, this association had difficulty giving document access to its members. Twenty-first century technology created access for all, without endangering these one-of-a-kind books.
These are just a few of the many case studies of various storage technology solutions collected on the NOS site. If you’re considering a change in your storage systems, we encourage you to take a look at the possibilities and envision your organization’s future.
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Document digitization is often valued for its back-office benefits. Digitization – also called imaging – provides security for confidential data that paper documents cannot offer. It provides simultaneous access to in-house and remote workers. It saves an exceptional amount of storage space, creating long term cost savings (scan it once, reduce storage space for years).
But the benefits aren’t confined to internal operations. Customer-facing activities can benefit too, particularly if your business’s brand is oriented toward customer success. Like other brand-supportive activities, customer success is proactive. It builds relationships with customers rather than merely reacting to customers’ questions or problems. Planning for customer success includes setting up ways to deliver quick responses to customers’ information requests.
Response time is important to customers. Slow service is a common reason for customers to leave a poor review or abandon a vendor relationship. In a highly-competitive environment, the organization that provides speedy responses is likely to win the business.
One example: A recent McKinsey study showed that insurance companies that provided best-in-class customer service enjoyed new-business growth two to four times greater than their peers. Fast service is part of the positive customer experience.
A database of digitized documents delivers customer service with electronic speed.
Let’s say a customer needs a copy of a damage appraisal from their insurance company. How much time does it takes for a staffer to leave their desk, find the right filing cabinet, locate the customer’s records, make a copy of the original document, and deliver the copy to the customer? Compare that to the speed of an online customer portal locating a digitized version of the document and delivering it immediately, as a digital document. The latter is a winner every time. And that’s just one example of the many ways document conversion improves the customer experience.
Without a doubt, digitization allows an organization’s internal teams to operate more productively, and use space more efficiently, with a resulting financial benefit. Even more, digitization helps businesses serve their customers better, and that too is worth money. Convert your documents, convert more customers, and watch profits grow.
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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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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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