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Unlock the Value of Unstructured Data with a Digital Mailroom

It wasn’t supposed to be this way.

The transition to managing digital documents was supposed to make things easier for overworked physical mailrooms. There would be no need to key in data, manage workflows or chase down information. Information would stream more easily between departments.

But that didn’t happen.

While more documents arrive electronically than ever before, it has made managing information more complicated. Most organizations spend more time and effort than ever before to process, analyze and organize the data they receive.

What’s to blame? The huge growth of unstructured data, which few organizations are equipped to handle.

How Is Unstructured Data Different?

When information management leaders dreamed of the digital future, they likely envisioned structured documents, such as online forms, where data fits a predefined structure. However, unstructured data is different.

Unstructured data is information that isn’t organized in a pre-defined way. It’s freeform, comes in different formats and is difficult to manage without human intervention.

There’s no telling what format the data will take, what or where information will be in the document. It can include emails, texts and chat communications, videos, and audio recordings. And it’s also not always of the highest quality (looking at you, social media).

Semi-structured documents pose similar challenges. They typically contain a set of standard data elements, such as a name, address, data or amount, but no standard layout. Locating the necessary information on a semi-structured document such as a purchase order or supplier invoice requires an understanding of the data.

The Constant Struggle of Unstructured Data

Unstructured documents have long complicated information management processes. According to research by SSON Industry Reports, 86 percent of surveyed organizations say unstructured data impacts their operational productivity and business effectiveness and 46 percent say they don’t have a strategy in place to address this problem.1

Legacy on-premises capture solutions most organizations use were designed to capture, manage and store structured data only. Most of these systems require data to appear in the same spot on a document every time, without fail. That’s not realistic in today’s data landscape.

And few organizations have the resources to pour through unstructured documents to determine its purpose. As a result, unstructured data is often digitally stored, but never processed, making it hard to find. It becomes “dark data.”

Fulfilling the Promise of Touch-Free Processing

Unstructured data is too valuable and too big a part of the content mix to be ignored. That’s why more organizations are deploying digital mailrooms with cloud capture technology.

There are three types of technologies that streamline the handling of unstructured data:

  1. Capture services: Digital mailroom solutions with cloud-native technology capture any content, from any source, including PDFs and Microsoft Word documents attached to emails. Machine learning technology extracts and tags unstructured data and learns based on tagging history.
  2. Robotic process automation (RPA): Custom bots automate repetitive tasks and integrate systems, freeing up staff, enabling process standardization and reducing mistakes and errors.
  3. Content services: Digital mailroom solutions with cloud-native capture technology centralize documents on a single platform, making it easy to find unstructured data. The technology can use any repository, including Microsoft SharePoint and Azure.

A digital mailroom with cloud-native capture technology makes it easy for organizations to aggregate all the structured, unstructured, and semi-structured content that they receive on a single platform.

With cloud-native capture technology, the vision of touch-free processing can become a reality.

Interested in learning more?

Reach out to an ibml expert today to learn how cloud capture can transform your document processing.

1. Reports, S. S. O. N. I. (2021, May 13). How to become truly digitalized through intelligent document processing. The Shared Services & Outsourcing Network.

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