ABBYY: Winning the Paper War
Written by Colin Miller from ABBYY.
Paper is still the lifeblood of any organisation. While numerous initiatives support the paper-free office with institutions like the NHS having been set a target to go paperless by 2018 and the central governemtn announcing the Open Document Format and PDF initiative, let’s not forget the paper document will continue to remain an integral part of the business process regardless. Folders with customer communication, invoices, memos and applications litter business desks and filing cabinets. But naturally, with so much information at hand, it can easily get lost in the ether or not processed properly.
But whilst market intelligence reports demonstrate that almost three quarters of businesses (70 per cent) state that paper reduction is part of the improvement process, almost half of the respondents find time spent on re-keying data, searching for paper copies and filing is still the biggest issue caused by paper-based processes in their company. Storage volume and outsource paper store cost were named as the second biggest issue by over 40 per cent of respondents. Organisations need to pay close attention to the business processes that are causing such bottlenecks in the workflow system.
Put simply, if you don’t manage your paper and digital documents properly, you could be at risk of losing customers and revenue. And this can happen to anyone, regardless of the industry or size of the business. There have been numerous stories of banks being fined for making errors on paperwork and mislaying information for instance, so how do you make sure documents are controlled and managed effectively?
While scanning paper has been common practice for decades, nowadays saving simple scans in central electronic repositories is not enough as it has one important limitation: scanned document images contain only little additional information, and their text cannot be electronically screened and searched for keywords. As digitised paper documents can be accidentally stored in a wrong digital library, it is crucial that they can be detected by inserting key words into a computer’s search programme. Using so called ‘key word search’, all documents related to a certain topic can be displayed by a click of the mouse, and lengthy files can quickly be searched for information.
By deploying document software like ABBYY FineReader or PDF Transformer+ any document image can be turned into an electronic document containing searchable and reusable text. This text can be electronically searched by key words and even extracted from the document and re-used. Advanced algorithms of such software pre-process the document images accordingly, detecting images, text areas and turning the ‘photo of a text’ into a ‘true text’ with 99.8 per cent accuracy. Some systems even allow adding meta-data, which is then transferred to the digital libraries together with the resulting documents.
These powerful software tools can turn thousands of scanned pages into searchable PDF or PDF/A formats and make the need for physical paper storage obsolete. This helps with compliance guidelines, as well as extending the longevity of archived documents that are saved in such formats so they continue to be accessible in the long term.
So, in the paper war game who are the winners? Naturally, businesses with a lot of documentation such as the pharmaceutical industry, as well as insurance companies, banks, businesses within the automotive industry as well as larger legal institutions and libraries. They can significantly profit by deploying document conversion servers and moving printed documentation into centralised electronic storage areas. Many systems are quickly deployed, providing return on investment since the very moment of the purchase. Usage of electronic documents that can be anytime accessed, forwarded or distributed allows the companies to increase customer response times and improve customer service.
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