When Two Worlds Collide: The Paperless Office and Twitter

By Joe Budelli posted 05-18-2011 16:26

  

Achieving a paper free lifestyle often times seems unattainable. But, from a technology standpoint, we are certainly moving towards a point where it is possible to rid our offices of paper invoices, bills, files, receipts, client records and more. Many organizations are looking at the paperless office as a way to become more efficient, reduce costs and minimize risk. To make this a reality, OCR technology quickly becomes a necessity.

From the personal use and small business perspective, creating a paperless environment requires only a small investment in OCR software and scanning solutions that are widely available at your local computer store. These solutions make converting hard-copy documents into searchable and editable digital images simple and immediately useable across the organization. The solutions also remove the need to retype paper documents when a digital copy is no longer available, or shuffle through stacks of paper.

The enterprise OCR usage scenario in most cases isn’t quite as easy as going to your local store and getting a box from the shelf. However, it is by no means difficult – it just requires a different technology approach and some key considerations to be made. First and foremost, in the enterprise environment, it will be critical to make OCR and data capture an initiative that spans the organization. Additionally, identifying the operational needs of your organization will ensure you take full advantage of the technology. Does your company need OCR capabilities at the front lines? If so, equipping your front line staff with mobile applications that leverage OCR can expedite information flow. Do you need widespread data capture capabilities that multiple users can use simultaneously? Then server-based capture solutions are the way to go over multiple box copies. These are just a couple of the considerations you need to make, however, with a concerted effort to automate data capture and the OCR-ing of all document types at the beginning of their processing, any organization can quickly minimize the amount of paper floating between departments or stuck in filing cabinets. This will also lead to overall organizational efficiency getting better due to improved information flow and easier communication of information.

To get you started, there are many tools, tricks and ideas available online when it comes to moving towards a paperless environment. There was a two series post in MacWorld that took readers through the process of going paperless, including basic tips, management solutions, and scanning and software options. Taking it a step further in the second post, author Joe Kissell brings up the idea of a virtual mail room, which is definitely an interesting extension. The Need Office Space blog recently provided five simple tips on creating the perfect paperless office. While the author’s tips did not include the use of enhanced OCR technology, I consider them to be the first steps towards the larger goal. If you are looking for some insight into what OCR can do when actually in use, I recently read an article about how going paperless and using electronic filing has helped the Minnesota judicial system improve efficiency and reduce mistakes in court data. Additionally, Gotta be Mobile author Kevin shared his experience with going paperless, and ways that his iPad has saved him thousands of dollars by ditching hard copies.

When you apply the aforementioned steps and tips to your organization and transition to a paperless office environment, the process creates some very interesting avenues for information sharing. It generates new ways to take common documents and garner additional value through the use of social media tools. I previously wrote on this topic in my post on the AIIM Community Capture Blog about OCR for the social networker. The post discusses how technology is coming face-to-face with the real time world that we live in, including mobile OCR apps that conduct quick and instant searches across Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. And I’m not the only one that believes this to be true. Interestingly enough, Kissellis the author of a popularebook, "Take Control of Your Paperless Office." In March, he posted the entire contents of the ebook to his twitter account, in a series of approximately 1600 tweets. With this approach, Kissell made his ebook freely available to all people in a sequence of brief segments, which allowed the dialogue of the paperless office to expand on Twitter. You can learn more about the project on Kissell’s homepage.

In this day and age of social media, how do you think OCR, the paperless office and social networking will collide?



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