There’s no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a monumental impact on the way that business gets done. Across industries and around the world, businesses had to quickly adapt to social distancing, remote working arrangements, and a surging demand for contactless, digital solutions like paper digitization.
This kicked broad digital transformation into overdrive. According to McKinsey, adoption of e-commerce options among consumers shot up in the early months of 2020 to levels it would have taken 10 years to reach otherwise.
These changes weren’t limited to outward customer-facing interactions. Many internal processes were shifted to accommodate social distancing. It’s likely that, in the post-pandemic future, remote work will carry on, largely in the form of hybrid work models, that allow employees to split their week between working from home and coming into the office.
The pandemic has rapidly transformed the way that businesses operate, bringing digital solutions to the forefront and raising the bar for competition between organizations, both in terms of customer service and employee satisfaction. One of the most important steps in fostering a digital transformation within your organization is digital data delivery including paper digitization. That means not only capturing data that originates in digital forms, but also digitizing physical data.
The Cost of Paper
Paper may be a staple of daily life, but there are plenty of reasons for businesses to switch to digital options. For starters, the cost of paper can add up pretty quickly - especially with a global paper shortage and supply chain bottlenecks driving up prices. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the price of paper has gone up by 14.2% in the past year, largely thanks to the 50.2% increase in the cost of wood pulp. Considering an average office worker in the US will use more than 10,000 sheets of paper each year, that price increase can really start to impact your bottom line.
While one individual piece of paper may not take up much space, that square footage can add up very quickly when you’re dealing with many years-worth of documents. A single filing cabinet can take up about 16 square feet when you include space to fully open the drawers. With the average annual cost per square foot of office space in the United States coming in at almost $39 (with a high of $85.82 in Manhattan), a single file cabinet costs on average about $624 per year, just to store paper.
Paper is also time-consuming and limiting. Information stored on paper documents can only be accessed after manually searching through files and then physically entering the relevant information into whatever process it was originally needed for. By digitizing paper documents with advanced optical character recognition (OCR) and intelligent document processing (IDP) technologies, you can unlock the full potential of all your stored information and data - even from physical paper sources.
Solutions like Exela’s Digital Mailroom (DMR) are an excellent place to kickstart your digital transformation. Even amidst a boom in digital solutions, many important business processes rely on physical mail. Incoming mail is one of the clearest continuous sources of physical paper documents. Exela’s DMR receives paper mail on your behalf and transforms it into fully digital assets - searchable, trackable, and easier to integrate with downstream digital workflows.
But Exela doesn’t stop with digitizing mail. For example, while records digitization may sound like a daunting and time-consuming task, our high-capacity, high-definition scanning solutions can be leveraged to streamline and automate much of the work involved. Paper digitization saves a great deal of space and hassle, and makes it easier to access and utilize the information stored in your old documents, turning them into assets rather than just space-fillers.
Our digitization technology can also be applied to Accounts Receivable and payment processing. In fact, the predecessor of our IntelliScan platform was first implemented to process checks and remittance documentation - and it’s only gotten better since then. By digitizing payments and payment processing, you can prevent bottlenecks and help maintain a steady revenue stream to support the rest of your business.
The Future of Paper Digitization is Here
Typical scanning of a document may technically digitize it, but it requires the involvement of optical character recognition (OCR) technology to transform the document into a digitized document in which the text is actually searchable text. Intelligent Document Processing (IDP) takes things one step further. IDP leverages natural language processing and cognitive computing to derive meaning and context from scanned text.
This effectively provides an easier and much faster way to deliver data to robotic processing automation (RPA) tools, thus unlocking the full potential of a given document. IDP can handle document types as diverse as invoices, health records, insurance claims, and legal case files, making it broadly useful across a wide range of industries. The ability to transform essentially any physical or digital document type into a manipulable data asset can lead to immense gains in efficiency and productivity.
Get started digitizing with Exela’s Digital Mailroom solution.