Does your organization waste valuable time and resources to manually prep documents? Are you tired of manually typing in data which oftentimes isn’t inputted accurately and error-free? If you want to venture away from these tedious slow processes, there are solutions out there! Advanced capture technologies will streamline and automate the transformation of documents into structured electronic information for your business processes.
What was your “ah-ha” moment in communicating ECM?
Working in Enterprise Content Management for over 12 years often times I have found it somewhat difficult to explain what we do and/or sell. Have you?
I have found that who your audience is often dictates how you explain it. To an IT group I have described ECM in terms of storage and retrieval of images in to database/repository with searching capability, ability to apply rules for authentication and accessibility, removing silos of information, ability to do workflow and BPM, and other things like Meta-Data, networks, through-put and HA/DR. Sometimes their eyes gloss over and other times they “understand.”
To some business folks when I’ m talking ECM I most usually reference things like accessibility of their documentation, being able to search on key fields and automatically route work/documents/content without the use of email or paper files (at its simplest form) and its all stored in a database otherwise known as a “repository.” Or, when describing workflow, using the old analogy of a restaurant. When you go in to the establishment a hostess seats you, then you get a menu, a waiter comes up and then you order, that order goes back to the kitchen and you get your meal prepared, then after you have dessert, you get a bill, pay and get a receipt then the bus boy comes and cleans everything up – that’s a workflow.
But what do you say to your mother or father, sister or brother and even children (aka the layman)? I’ve tried things like, “I sell software that lifts information off paper or documents and puts that data in a data base that allows people to find it. Then the people can see the documents on their computer necessary to do their job.” But I still get a ‘blank stare.’
Then one day, maybe three or four months ago, my dad was asking me for his usual P.C. help and he said, “my printer/scanner isn’t reading the words as well as it used to.” Of course, that got my attention! Could my dad know what O.C.R. is? After 12 years of me talking about IBM, FileNet, EMC/Documentum, Microsoft , Captiva, Kofax, ImageSource and ILINX(r) and him saying, “I still don’t get what you do.” NO WAY! How could my dad possibly know about O.C.R?
So I asked him, “Dad, you know what OCR is?” Guess what, he replied YES! “Its that software that I use when I want to take words off my documents that are PDF or Tiffs”. BAM! He knew! Finally after 12 years he “figured it out” partially what I did for a living. Putting this in context, my dad is an automotive guy, first sales and then executive, who had never a need to do any “computing” most of his professional career.
We have a lot of acronyms in our ECM vocabulary: OCR, ICR, OMR, BPM, OSR, ODAR, HIPI, TIFF, etc etc etc. (I can go on for a lifetime of our acronyms). But what do you say so that IT people get what ECM is? What do YOU say to a business user, who never ever ever thought of this stuff day to day? What do you tell your mom, dad, brother, sister, what you do every day? What have you said that brings blank stares? But, most importantly, what have you said to a customer and then you saw the “light bulb” go off? It appears O.C.R. is making it in to the mainstream vocabulary, if my dad is any example, because he knows his, “HP MFP does OCR.”
Scanning your documents into a Document Management System is a great way to improve efficiency and reduce the amount of paper in your office. And, depending on what kind of paper you are scanning, there are lot of document capture tools available. Tools such as Full Text OCR, Zonal OCR, and ICR can greatly reduce time spent indexing and validating your documents once they are scanned.
Full Text OCR (Optical Character Recognition) is software that captures every character in the document being scanned and processing it into a fully searchable PDF. One effective use of this technology is when government users needing to search hundreds of pages of agendas and meeting minutes for a certain topic. The process of searching these documents is quite time-consuming and most OCR processing occurs overnight when there is less use on the company’s day-to-day activities.
Zonal OCR is similar in that it captures information, but in this case, the software is programmed to look in the same location or “zone” every time. This is helpful when scanning in documents where the information is in the same location, such as an invoice number. Most invoices are in a set format so zonal OCR is very effective in this scenario. When the operator is validating this information, the Zonal OCR zooms in on the zone area that has been predetermined where the information is captured from so they can easily read if the information captured is correct or not. Hence, one of the biggest advantages of Zonal OCR is that it improves the efficiency of searches which translates into a savings of both time and money. Some software available that features Zonal OCR also allows the user to draw a box to establish a zone around required text rather than typing in keywords therefore allowing the document to be automatically indexed.
ICR (Intelligent Character Recognition) is the ability for the software to read hand-written information and process this into searchable information. This is especially beneficial in the financial industry. And although this tool can be very useful in some situations, the error rate is much higher because handwriting is so varied from person to person.
Andrea Latham, CDIA+