Historically, companies had physical mailrooms where a team of people would receive, sort, and distribute mail and other paper-based documents. With the ability to improve efficiency and support workflow automation, today’s digital mailroom solutions have taken that flood of paper and replaced it with a wave of digital data. This new flow of data goes beyond the emails that replaced paper and faxes and includes everything an organization takes in—from digital forms to contracts, pictures, PDFs, CAD files, and more.
Manual data capture processes are slower and more risk prone than automated ones, and today’s digital mailroom solutions are superior to the paper-based processes of yesteryear. However, many enterprises still rely on manual methods to deal with their content. But the sheer volume of data is growing faster than organizations can add people to deal with it, and enterprises need to address this problem with technologies that eliminate errors and facilitate greater efficiency. With that said, the digital mailroom is now a business requirement.
Here are three key advantages that enterprises are realizing by transitioning to digital mailroom solutions.
Advantage #1: An enhanced customer experience
In today’s digital business environment, there is increasing competitive pressure to continually improve the customer experience. Digital content and communications speed up the flow of information, enabling faster response times. Consequently, faster, better, more personalized service is becoming the baseline customer expectation.
To meet these needs, organizations must capitalize on the benefits of a digital mailroom. By digitizing incoming content and automating the process entirely, enterprises can accelerate the understanding of their data—improving the customer experience and speeding up decision-making, product development, and claim resolution.
For example, IAG, a large insurance organization, saw the need to improve their customer experience because new all-digital players were winning significant market share. These agile digital-born companies have no bricks and mortar and no legacy systems to deal with. They appear in the market with faster, better options for customers, offering a clear strategic advantage. By accepting digital photos as part of a mobile-friendly claims process, for example, an insurance company can resolve claims much faster than their competitors.
In response to this competitive pressure, IAG initiated a digital data capture transformation. They replaced their archaic, largely manual processes with automated ones. As a result, claims that previously took four days to resolve were handled in just four hours—allowing the company to deliver a much better customer experience. And, after realizing significant time savings on their document processing, they gained operational efficiencies that saved the company upwards of $6,000,000 a year.
Advantage #2: Greater operational efficiency
As enterprises undergo a digital transformation—evolving from manual processing of paper and unstructured content to automatically processing the growing volumes of born-digital content—they realize greater operational efficiencies. The reduced need for human intervention at the front-end of the data capture process means fewer resources are needed, errors are virtually eliminated, and workflows are fast-tracked.
When digital mailroom solutions are put into place, the speed of many business processes can be greatly improved. More efficient, technology-based data capture workflows allow enterprises to automatically identify, extract, and analyze all the data coming into their organization. The right data is sent to the right place faster, enabling better, more actionable insights.
For example, a large insurance company takes in over half a billion pages of content a year, a volume that’s far too high to deal with manually. To address this influx of content, they worked with a vendor to implement a software solution that makes the incoming data searchable and extracts content from contract information. That data could then be fed into IBM’s Watson, which performs content analytics and arrives at a risk assessment for the content. Without the ability to convert that unstructured data into searchable, usable content, they wouldn’t be able to use a tool like Watson. Much of the data would be unreadable, and the company wouldn’t be able to capitalize on the power of the software to improve decision-making and risk assessment.
Efficiencies born from digital mailroom automation can also have a big impact on areas like product development. For instance, a manufacturing company like TTX works with a lot of suppliers to build a new railroad car. Different suppliers would send data in different file formats, and they weren’t always able to open the documents and extract the information they needed. The variety of unsupported formats necessitated a lot of effort at the front-end of the data capture process, since staff had to ask each supplier to send the information in a different format.
When TTX adopted a technology solution that could automatically transform all the incoming formats into usable data—a searchable PDF that everyone could access—they gained a lot of speed in their downstream processes. Not just because they could process the data faster, but also because they could extract maximum value from the content by making it searchable and putting it in the right groups and categories—so the right people got the content at the right time. This allowed them to build the next railway car faster and at a lower cost, greatly improving their operational efficiency.
Advantage #3: Improved compliance
Organizations need to deal with growing regulatory compliance that demands deeper awareness and insight into all enterprise content that comes in through various channels. For instance, the impact of data theft by hackers has led to the tightening of rules to protect clients’ personally identifiable information (PII). In many large institutions, sensitive information is housed in various locations that aren’t always well protected. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requires that organizations have control over all of that data (and can prove they have control of it). Failure to do so can result in massive fines—in some cases, as much as four percent of annual turnover or $20,000,000, whichever is higher.
Meeting this compliance challenge requires managing the tremendous volume of documents coming in every day—in some cases, tens or hundreds of thousands of files. Some of that content is trivial, some has value, and some is very high value but contains risky content that needs to be quickly identified and properly managed (credit card information in a form, for example). Being compliant means being able to capture all of that data and transform it into a digital format that’s searchable, and can be sorted and properly managed.
Digital mailroom solutions streamline compliance in a data-intensive environment. The cost of trying to become compliant through manual means is high, and not always achievable. Automated solutions that can transform all types of content—both structured and unstructured, and in multiple languages and formats—reduces compliance risk. An automated data capture process reduces errors and omissions, ensures that sensitive content is never lost, and diminishes the resources required to remain compliant in an increasingly regulated marketplace.
The transformation from paper to digital mailroom technology can improve the customer experience, boost operational efficiency, reduce risk, and streamline compliance. Before adopting a digital mailroom, start by developing a clear understanding of the end-goal of your data capture processes. Focus on the low-hanging fruit—areas that offer maximum value with minimal technical risk—and then build on those wins in future phases.
Finally, ensure that you work with partners who can deliver enterprise-grade tools designed to operate in high-volume situations, with solutions designed to meet your expanding needs over time. With the right partner at your side, you can maximize ROI and navigate any transformation challenges that might arise.