By Guest Blogger Tim Dubes
Marketing Director at Ephesoft

For decades, the original concept of document capture was, quite simply, scan to archive: a pre-processing step in which documents were scanned, some key index fields extracted, and then ingested as a record in case they were needed for future reference. More recently, an emphasis has been placed on scan to process: capturing documents earlier in their lifecycle and enabling electronic workflow processes that improve business efficiency while reducing paper handling and errors. Today’s legacy document capture vendors still typically operate under these old concepts.

In contrast, advanced document capture systems have advanced, in tandem with advanced Enterprise Content Management (ECM) systems, to the stage where they can now serve as an invaluable contributor to an organization’s business strategy. This new third stage of maturity, scan to insight, recognizes the enormous amount of intelligence that can be harvested from the unstructured content and the cadence of transactions that documents represent.

Unlike legacy document capture tools that limit their focus on simply finding a document again when it’s needed or accelerating individual business processes, advanced document capture and ECM team up to utilize data gleaned from documents can be used for business analysis and informed executive decision making.

Under the new scan to insight model, your organization realizes all the long-standing benefits of archiving and process automation, plus the vital new ability to analyze all of the information formerly trapped in a non-structured format. Instead of capturing a few indexing fields simply to find the document or perform a transaction, advanced capture can be used to extract relevance and meaning from all of the text within a document set. Moreover, the actual history and cadence of transactional documents (how and when they are submitted; actions performed upon them; approvals and database lookups) can also be ingested by Enterprise Content Management platforms for further analysis.

Ephesoft LogoWe are finding that more and more organizations are looking at advanced capture technologies as a key component of effective ECM. In fact, many of Ephesoft’s larger implementations have the document classification and data extraction functionalities embedded in the organization’s Content Management platform, including several implementations with the Nuxeo Platform. For these companies, capture is not merely a front end attachment for a content repository, documents are ingested throughout workflow processes, reflecting the fact that not all needed and available documents are created or available at the inception of a business process.

For example, with a mortgage approval process, a loan originator may obtain a credit application, w-2, and tax records from the potential borrow to kick off the process. Later on appraisals, property inspections, good faith estimates and similar supporting documents are often required. Rather than wait for all corresponding documentation to be collected and batch captured, a lender can bring documents into an already active workflow. The added benefit is that by capturing all of the information contained in these documents (either at the point the document is introduced into the content management system, or later on after the workflow is complete) the organization has a wealth of additional data to use for decision making, including potential customer/prospect marketing, portfolio health analysis, investment decisions, compliance and fraud detection.

It seems to be an accepted standard that less than 20% of corporate information is in a structured format. Even less (a 2012 IDC study estimates less than 0.5%) of available information is subject to analysis. By integrating advanced capture technology with advanced Enterprise Content Management, companies can dramatically increase the available pool of data—and in many cases data only available to them, representing valuable intellectual property—for improving process cycle times and making better business decisions.

Tim Dubes is the Marketing Director for Ephesoft, Inc. a Nuxeo technology partner and the developers of the industry-leading Smart Capture® advanced document capture platform.