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Document Digitization: 6 Reasons to Digitize Documents in 2023

Documents are essential to the day-to-day operations of any business.

From record keeping and communication to legal compliance and knowledge management, efficient and effective document processes go a long way to determining the success of a business.

But managing documents in a manual or semi-automated environment creates significant challenges for businesses.  The bigger the business, the bigger the document challenges that it may face.

Document digitization can help businesses of all sizes overcome these challenges.

This article shows why more businesses are digitizing their documents in 2023.

Top document processing challenges

Collecting, processing, routing, and storing paper documents can create challenges for businesses.

  • Inefficiency. Manual document processes bog staff down.  Staff wastes lots of time keying data, shuffling paper, chasing down information, and fixing errors.  Inefficiencies in how documents are handled can delay workflows, create errors, and complicate reporting.
  • Cost. Manually processing paper documents requires lots of labor, lots of physical storage, and lots of toner, envelopes, and other paper-related consumables.
  • Physical storage. Storing paper documents in desk drawers, file cabinets, cardboard boxes, and with third-party storage providers costs lots of money and takes up valuable space.  It’s also not uncommon for paper documents to be misfiled, lost, stolen, or damaged.
  • Inadequate visibility. Information moves faster these days.  But it can be difficult for geographically dispersed staff to access documents or to collaborate on information.
  • Risk. Contracts, invoices, and other documents may contain sensitive information.  It’s hard to ensure that paper documents don’t fall into the wrong hands, resulting in a data breach.

These challenges highlight the importance of migrating from paper-based processes.

The volume of paper documents

Despite the growth of digital alternatives, businesses still process a lot of paper documents.

The typical business receives 42 percent of its documents as paper, according to a 2020 survey by Kyocera Document Solutions, which interviewed more than 1,000 employees of companies across various industries in the United States.  The percentage of paper documents received was higher in some industries, such as healthcare and legal, which have onerous regulatory requirements.

The prolonged shift to remote work environments has accelerated digital transformation initiatives as businesses look for ways to adapt their existing processes and improve back-office efficiency.

According to a 2020 survey conducted by the Association for Intelligent Information Management (AIIM), a global community of information professionals, 53 percent of businesses have digitized more than half of their paper-based records, and 37 percent have digitized almost all their records.  Seventy-eight percent of respondents surveyed by AIIM plan to digitize their paper records.

What is document digitization?

Document digitization converts paper documents into digital formats such as PDF, JPEG, or HTML.

Document digitization involves scanning the physical document using a scanner or a camera, and then using data capture technologies such as optical character recognition (OCR) to convert the scanned image into machine-readable text.  Once the text has been extracted, it can be stored electronically, making the information contained in the document easier to search, access, and share.

Digitized documents are centrally stored in a repository or document management system, making them accessible from anywhere, facilitating collaboration, and reducing the need for physical storage.  Digitized documents also can be easily backed up and secured, reducing the risk of data loss or theft.

How document digitization works

Converting paper documents into digital format involves several important steps.

  • Preparation. To ensure image quality, documents must be prepared for scanning. This may involve removing staples, paperclips, or other bindings, and flattening any creases or folds.
  • Scanning. A scanner converts paper documents into digital images.  High-production scanners can process multiple types of documents comingled.  Some scanners can capture both sides of a document at once, while others require each side to be scanned separately.
  • Pre-processing. Scanned documents are processed using software that can correct any distortions or errors in the images.  This may involve adjusting the brightness or contrast, removing any smudges or stains, or cropping the image to remove any excess background.
  • Data extraction. Document digitization solutions extract the data from document images using technologies such as OCR, artificial intelligence (AI) with machine learning, barcode recognition, and mark sense recognition.  Extracted text is searchable and editable.
  • Indexing and storage. Digitized documents are indexed and centrally stored.  This allows the documents to be easily searched and accessed by authorized users from any location.

These steps improve the overall collection, processing, routing, and storage of documents.

Why digitize documents?

Document digitization delivers significant benefits to businesses of all sizes, across all industries.

Here are six reasons that businesses are digitizing their documents in 2023.

  1. Space-saving. Digitizing documents eliminates the need for physical storage in desk drawers, file cabinets, cardboard boxes, and with third-party providers.  Physical storage can take up a significant amount of space, which can be especially costly in urban areas.
  2. Easy access and retrieval. Digital documents are automatically indexed and centrally stored, making it easy to locate specific documents quickly.  Authorized users can instantly retrieve documents at any time, from anywhere, saving time and increasing productivity.
  3. Increased security. Digital documents can be protected with passwords and other measures, making them more secure than paper documents that can be lost, stolen, or damaged.
  4. Cost-effective. Digitization can reduce the cost of printing, copying, and storing physical documents.  And staff spend less time keying data, shuffling paper, or retrieving documents.
  5. Improved collaboration. Digital documents can be easily shared and collaborated on, making it easier for geographically dispersed teams to work together on projects and tasks.
  6. Disaster recovery. Digitizing documents can help protect against loss due to disasters such as fires, floods, or theft.  Documents also are accessible when staff cannot get into the office.

Overall, document digitization solutions offer many benefits that can help businesses of all sizes save time, money, and resources, while also improving efficiency and productivity and mitigating risk.

Digitize your documents in 2023

Every business relies on invoices, contracts, orders, and other documents.

Manually collecting, processing, routing, and storing documents is costly inefficient, and risky.  Converting paper documents into electronic format enables businesses to save space, streamline access and retrieval, improve security, reduce costs, improve collaboration, and provide for disaster recovery.  These are the reasons that more businesses are digitizing their documents in 2023.

If you are ready to start your document digitization project, consult one of our experts to learn how ibml solutions can help.

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