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What is Document Digitization – An Overview

Apr 28, 2021 Digital Transformation

From small businesses to Fortune 10 enterprises, most companies operate in a hybrid environment of physical and digital information. Even those who have evolved from using paper files and ‘upgraded’ to the digital filing cabinets of today spend far too much time finding and sharing siloed and static documents. Many professionals end up spending countless hours of their working time trying to find the information they need; looking and searching therefore, not thinking, analyzing, or strategically executing.

It’s no secret that we have relied on paper documentation for many years, and hard copies are still necessary for certain situations. Most keep paper accreditations, achievements, certificates, deeds, and wills. While there is nothing wrong with that, it is crucial to have digital versions of your most important documents. There are far too many risks in maintaining physical business documents and only a few ways to truly protect them. Businesses have the most to gain by securely storing the documents off-site and converting them to digital documents using state-of-the-art techniques.

Today, there is Document Understanding software that automatically reads, organizes, and surfaces data – increasing productivity and mitigating the risk of human error. With this capability, teams no longer have to spend hours searching and reading manually, because suddenly, the information needed is at their fingertips. 3-clicks to answers.

In order to advance to a self-organizing, efficient document management system you must digitize the records themselves. Digitization of your business documents is the first step to infinite sources of ROI like freeing up space, securely protecting your information, centralization of access, and custom navigation to your favorite information. For those of you who need to take the first step, here are some resources…

What is Document Digitization?

Digitization is converting manual paper-based files into automated computer versions. The analog data is converted to digital format that is accessible using a computer or another digital device. Digitization is used mainly in the context of scanning and taking photographs of business documents.

Today’s businesses require document digitization to create digital backups of all essential documents, such as financial statements, leases, agreements, and contracts. Document digitization is traditionally a tedious process, especially if you have many pages to capture. Upon creation of the digitized records, ongoing maintenance and management begins. This process relies on modern tools and platforms to reduce human error, harnessing the full potential of modern computing. Self-organizing document management is super-charged by AI models pre-trained to parse and classify documents out of the box.

Document Scanning Solutions

Scanning is at the center of digitization and the first step when converting to a digital database for your company’s documents. Scanning also remains one of the inevitable manual tasks’ companies must still perform to have digital copies. Fortunately, modern scanning technologies are designed for such demands and reduce the effort required to capture thousands of company documents.  The fundamental scanning solutions include:

Dedicated Scanners

For most businesses, there is no need to invest in a dedicated scanner as multifunctional printers perform just fine. If “just fine” isn’t the quality you want for your company documents, a dedicated scanner may be worth the investment. They are built to scan all types of papers and produce crisp, high-quality digital copies. Dedicated scanners are perfect when capturing delicate documents with hidden details and other vital identifications. They provide the full spectrum of colors and also capture 3D properties.

Mobile Scanning Apps and Cameras

Mobile scanning tools are fast becoming popular in the workplace and offer another way to digitize documents on the go. If you don’t have a scanner, your smartphone will step up.  The latest released devices produce stunning detail. Simply browse your app store for the best scanning apps and leverage the smartphone camera to scan high-quality copies of any paper document.

Document Scanning as a Service

For most businesses, there is no need to invest in a dedicated scanner. There is value in leaving it up to the professionals. Not only do they avoid the maintenance and operation of scanning equipment, creating a partnership with an expert document professional will benefit them in many ways. While the business can focus on far more valuable tasks, the experts deploy their know-how to convert the files quickly, securely, and correctly.

How to Digitize Documents

Proper Initial Organization

Organization is vital, especially when you have hundreds or thousands of high-value documents containing obligations, critical dates, and opportunities. Proper organization makes document retrieval effortless if you choose a provider with self-organizing document management capabilities like ThoughtTrace.

Using the Right Tools

There are many document digitization tools available for businesses and individuals. Since having hard drive backups is no longer sufficient, finding the right cloud solutions for storing and managing your documents is vital. Scanners, cameras, and mobile scanning apps are a few things to consider purchasing to ensure you get top-quality digital copies in the required formats. You must also review how the documents will be used and the applications needed to manage online archives. You can find a scanning partner to assist with the bulk of this work.

Secure File Storage

Hackers are always looking for vulnerable companies and private documents, so it is vital to store your digital documents safely.  In most cases, you need a comprehensive solution with password protection and SSL certificates for websites that store private company documents. Security should not come at the expense of accessibility. With ThoughtTrace, you have both.

ThoughtTrace holds and maintains a SOC 2 Type 2 certification, the gold standard of a secure SaaS organization. Our application supports a robust security model to protect and maintain appropriate access to information across your organization and maintains an infinite, immutable audit history of activity in the system to guarantee full life cycle visibility into your content. 

Enjoy powerful insights, flexible options, and on-the-fly changes in an iron-clad cloud environment. 

How to Avoid Digitization Mistakes?

Digitizing documents offers many advantages and just as many possible mistakes. Companies digitize their paper media to reduce storage costs, reduce retrieval time, and improve sharing, but fail to recognize the full value of document digitization without proper alignment of people, process, and technology.  With billions of documents under management, these are key pieces of advice for your digitization project:

Vet your partners

Working with document scanning partners is more cost-effective than buying, maintaining, and staffing an in-house solution, especially if you are working with inept scanning equipment. As with any service, not all vendors are created equal. The firm should offer multiple service options, be ready to meet you where you are, offer client referrals, and maintain affiliations to show their dedication to high industry standards like the National Associate for Information Destruction (NAID) or the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP).

Iterate to perfection

There is no one-size-fits-all digitization project, therefore it is important to take time to plan the process of locating, organizing, and goal aligning to ensure that scope creep doesn’t derail your success. Successful capture of useful indexing information will require input from all stakeholders – both business and IT- to be deployed in a phased implementation approach. Failure to do so will perpetuate the creation of data silos, no better than a box of files in a closet. Easier than ever before, no-code workflow automation and integration software, like ThoughtTrace Connect, will allow you to collect and leverage all the data you already have. Breakdown silos and achieve business goals faster.

Embrace off-site physical storage

So you move all of your documents from paper-based to digital – what do you do with the paper copies? Storing your documents in the same place that business is done, is not safe, or an efficient use of resources, and the company must be equipped to manage countless security protocols. An off-site storage partner can save precious real estate and protect original copies in facilities equipped with fire suppression technology to protect its contents from natural disasters. As an iron-clad cloud-based environment that maintains a SOC 2 Type 2 compliance, ThoughtTrace and all storage vendors must hold this value above all else.

Why Is Document Digitization Important?

The merits of document digitization are obvious and straightforward. Once you’ve taken that first step, you can quickly progress into enabling the use of modern, digital tools, such as document understanding applications, that quite literally read and understand what matters in your complex documents. Benefits of the proper Document Management & Understanding solution include:

  • Operational Cost Savings
  • Reducing laborious tasks, such as extensive manual review
  • Increased file accessibility (stop searching through folders – paper or digital – for a file!)
  • More accurate reporting
  • Enhanced Security
  • Ease of tracking for compliance or reporting
  • Eliminating error-prone, manual data entry, and more.

Here are six key benefits of digitizing your documents and moving to a modern Document Management & Understanding Solution:

1. Access and Searchability

Searching and finding relevant content is much easier. In the past, you would comb through your traditional filing cabinet or Document Management System searching for the document itself in a plethora of hierarchal folders. Then, you would read through line-after-line looking for a particular piece of information. The obvious problem with this “analog” approach to document search and review is the amount of time and resources required. Not only is the approach labor-intensive and prone to human error, but it can’t keep up with today’s rapid pace of change. AI-powered, Intelligent Search capabilities can… companies have seen 95% time savings on research queries alone.

2. Income Generation

Company documents harbor insights and information with commercial value. Document Understanding solutions unlock that potential. In-depth research is essential to tapping into new-found opportunities.

“We hit a grand slam with a $4 million find – searching for a needle in a haystack when we didn’t even know the needle was there. This would not have been possible before ThoughtTrace.” Read the case study.

3. Preservation and Interaction

Digitization is among the most effective ways of preserving delicate company documents. Capturing the digital copies reduces physical handling and the potential damages of frequent document retrieval. They are also versatile and sharable through a wide range of channels. Companies who decide to digitize their documents and then upload them to ThoughtTrace benefit instantly by sharing their structured data, ripe for automation and integration, using secure sharing, configurable security measures, and instant collaboration.

4. Integration

Integration is a crucial benefit of document digitization. Although it should be clear that simply digitizing your files is only the first step to breaking down silos. Before integrating with other systems, you’ll want the data from your documents to be classified, structured, and easily accessible. Document reading and interpretation applications can automatically classify, structure, and extract critical data elements that can be seamlessly integrated with other systems to break down silos, and improve business decisions.

Document Understanding Platform for Business Leaders

AI-powered document understanding is the frontier of future business contracts and agreements. Document understanding applications rely on robust algorithms to pull out vital information, opening the door to unprecedented efficiency in analysis and document scheming. Companies can leverage the benefits of self-organizing document management, AI-powered contract analysis, fast contextual search, and integration capabilities to save time and resources.

Learn more about the ThoughtTrace Document Understanding Solution with self-organizing document management capabilities.

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