One of the biggest challenges facing financial professionals today is how best to manage the ever-increasing flow of data in, around and out of their organisations. The main issue is that much of this data is unstructured – it’s embedded in emails, paper documents, online posts and more.
Unstructured data doesn’t live in traditional data stores or have a pre-defined data model, nor is it organised in a pre-defined manner – making it increasingly difficult for executives to access, assess and analyse, the quantitative and qualitative information required to swiftly make accurate, informed business decisions.
Kodak Alaris refers to this scenario as ‘data chaos’ – the point where the size and growth of unstructured data vastly outpaces structured data. This presents significant obstacles to operational efficiency, responsiveness to customers and profitable growth.
Organisations should be focussed on finding ways to unlock unstructured data, which continues to grow exponentially. Increasingly, it is hidden in hard-to-get at systems, making it difficult to extract and make sense of – and route it into business processes or workflows to ensure that they get the maximum business value. The opportunity to exploit this information to optimise financial management, reporting and compliance, is too great for financial professionals to ignore.
Success in harnessing the power and promise of unstructured data, at scale, requires new science for capturing, recognising and extracting information from structured and unstructured data. It demands new technologies in the form of software, devices and cloud services for storing, sharing and integrating unstructured data with business processes and applications.
This means a new ecosystem of providers and services are needed to deliver powerful solutions that meet finance professionals’ requirements. Their task is to bring together the science, technology and ecosystem required for companies large and small, to exploit unstructured data to drive business efficiency, agility, speed, growth and profitability.
Information in the electronic world is not trapped as it is on paper. By capturing documents at the point of origination, the digital data can be mined for meaningful insight, quickly analysed, shared and used to shape future business strategy.
Scanning technologies have become more sophisticated. They enable the capture of paper documents wherever they may enter an organisation. Kodak Alaris produces scanners that include intelligent features to help track paper documents, such as image addressing, indexing and patch counting, which all help track data in business systems while automating tedious tasks and boosting efficiency.
According to US market researcher International Data Corporation (IDC), as part of their digital transformation efforts, financial services companies are turning to what IDC dubs ‘3rd platform’ technologies such as mobility and big data, to enable more productive and meaningful ways to engage with clients. In addition to these customer-centric priorities, businesses operating in regulated environments are also turning to technology to assist with compliance.
Given the challenges of today’s business environment, it is web-based capture – often referred to as cloud capture or thin client capture – that offers significant opportunities for game-changing growth.
For financial organisations on the path to digital transformation, the ability to digitise documents anytime, anywhere and across all devices will further drive efficiency, improve productivity and reduce the time spent on finding and analysing information – as well as support better collaboration and information sharing.
Web-based capture streamlines processes, delivering increased efficiency and overall business value. Businesses benefit from seamlessly integrating capture into business applications; centrally-managed web capture opens new dimensions for highly-connected document capture, to ensure connectivity throughout the company.
Web-based scanning delivers tight process controls, facilitates process standardisation, regulatory compliance and security, by creating the same transactional audit trails and controlling access only to authorised personnel; thus reducing the increasing cost impact for businesses through the ability to detect and prevent fraudulent use of documents.
With thin client capture, businesses benefit from reduced operating costs. IT support can be centralised, making it easier to deploy, upgrade and administer with substantial savings, resulting in higher profitability and return on investment (ROI).
Browser-based capture can also be integrated into line-of-business (LOB) software, with a simple ‘scan button’ embedded in the application. In this way employees don’t need to know anything about the capture software; the button simply allows documents and information to be scanned directly into the business application, saving both time and training costs.
Document-centric processes present challenges for customer satisfaction, as they tend to be slow and often disconnected. Web-based capture allows employees to focus on customers rather than paperwork, leading to increased customer satisfaction and increased loyalty.
In conclusion, simply scanning and digitising information is not enough. In order to leverage the full potential of big data, financial professions need to take a holistic approach to document management starting from the point at which information enters their organisation.
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