A friend of mine, who is a bank compliance consultant, once told me there were few things she dreaded more than auditing a bank with a recently deployed imaging platform. “An image-enabled mess is still a mess,” she said. “In fact, it’s a bigger mess. The only thing worse than thumbing through boxes of poorly organized documents is “mousing” through hard drives full of unindexed PDF files.”
Point well taken…
One of the most fundamental and confounding problems in Enterprise Content Management (ECM) is classifying and indexing content. Often, this process is a manual one – yes, even today – that eats up significant time and expense and is chronically error-prone. Or, to varying degrees, the process may be automated.
Advanced capture tools have come a long way, and their ability to automatically recognize document types and extract key data elements from an image is remarkable. But often, these manual and automated processes are solving a problem that never needed to exist in the first place.
Think about it.
When you receive content from a customer – whether in paper, email, or other electronic form – it is typically in the context of a transaction with that customer that already carries a broad electronic fingerprint. In some application system, you have the customer’s name, account number, the type of content you are requesting, and many other identifiers. The problem is, in most operational models, none of that awareness remains associated with that content as it is received.
Transactional capture, an idea finding real-world traction now, is all about retaining the intelligence that surrounds content at the time of the customer transaction. Who is this content from? What is it? What transaction does it support? What key information does it provide? Which of my employees received it? When and where did we receive it? Where should I direct it? How long and how securely should I keep it?
Answering such questions can largely be automated through richer integration of capture systems into your core business application platforms. Capturing context becomes as important as capturing content. And the benefits of doing this are obvious – reduced errors and back office expense, faster execution of content-dependent processes, vastly improved audit trail, and enhanced customer experience.
Of course, not all content is received in a transactional model – there will always be the ad hoc receipt of material that you must identify and classify after the fact. Sophisticated advanced capture tools will inevitably have a role in such cases. Additionally, in transactional capture there is still some risk of human error, and advanced capture tools can provide a very beneficial validation role to mitigate those errors.
But the opportunities presented by Transactional Capture are real, and you should ask yourself how this emerging best practice could be a valuable next step in your ECM maturity cycle. In future blog entries I will provide you some great examples of what we see happening in this arena.