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7 ways most brands screw up the paperless office concept

The paperless office is an increasingly popular concept adopted by businesses of all size, but there are some pitfalls to avoid.

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Enthusiasm behind paperless office concept

Many people hear the word “cloud” and expect to snap their fingers and become paperless overnight, completely organized and compliant, but it isn’t exactly as easy as the commercials make it sound. Yes, digital document management can be tremendous business tool, but some of the basic free solutions are risky and don’t help to keep your company organized or even in compliance.

One of the more robust options on the market is 12-year old eFileCabinet, which began as a cutting-edge tool to digitally store records in accounting firms, growing in popularity to a full-fledged electronic document management solution designed to help organizations capture, manage and protect their data in any industry.

Matt Peterson, CEO of eFileCabinet, notes that businesses adopt the concept of the paperless office with great enthusiasm, but grapple with the practical implications of getting such an implementation off the ground. “The transition from a paper-intensive operation to a completely paperless environment has seen several organizations abandon the initiative because of the stress such a transition places on their operating environment. The sustainability of a paperless office relies on the careful, well-administered execution of several cross-departmental initiatives that are pivotal to a smooth transition.”

Peterson adds that when executed incorrectly, the transition can hurt productivity and financial benefits that come with the paperless office. Based on his area of expertise, Peterson offers seven ways that most businesses are actually screwing up their digital document management. In his words:

1. Rapid, Disorganized Transition:

Expecting your organization to complete the move to a paperless environment in a few days or even a couple of weeks can throw several administrative and operational processes out of gear. Business constraints and imperatives often drive the pursuit of paperless operations at a pace that is far more than an organization can manage. More often than not, any productivity gains are nullified by the time spent learning how to use document management software, scheduling time on scanners. When implementing a paperless office solution such as eFileCabinet, it is important to do so in a planned, structured transition with pragmatic timelines.

2. File Hoarding:

The lack of proper indexing procedures or the absence of a streamlined process or policy that governs the creation, duplication, digitization, preservation and disposal of company documentation can result in an e-landfill—a large, unmanageable digital cabinet filled with orphaned files and documents that take up server space. Without proper training and clear file retention deadlines an organization runs the risk of wasting time by overloading the digital filing system with files that will never be accessed or have already passed their legal and useful life span. Consequently, the process of search and retrieval of documents takes far longer than necessary. While this may seem to be an elementary oversight, in reality, it is a costly mistake that wastes time, impacts productivity and is a frustrating experience, come audit season.

3. Placing Intellectual Assets at Risk:

Most organizations make the mistake of digitizing documents without a definite backup or archival plan. More often than not, scanned copies of files are saved into a random folder structure. The effect of a force majeure situation or a natural disaster on such an office could result in a partial or complete shutdown of operations. Some organizations establish a degree of contingency by relying on backup tapes or ISO-compliant folder storage to safeguard data. In the absence of such an effort, sensitive company data and intellectual assets may end up in a large group of un-indexed files and open to theft or accidental deletion.

4. Non-Compliant Storage and Sharing:

Saving and organizing files through Microsoft Windows folders can be a tedious, time-intensive effort and can often be in violation of the paperless standards set by many compliance governing bodies. Governance standards, international law and global financial regulatory requirements under several acts such as Sarbanes-Oxley and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), as well as the SEC require an organization to provide verifiable and timely access to digital records. The proper establishment of role-based security as a means to controlling access to digital is sometimes tedious but always necessary step for security purposes. When implementing a paperless office, it is important to use compliance-friendly features such as the eFileCabinet SecureDrawer to transfer confidential data and documents across operational environments.

5. Non-existent or Incomplete Data Backup:

An organization’s data backup process is a vital and indispensable component of its overall disaster recovery plan. Cloud based document management software offers a two-edged solution that features a scheduled backup of an organization’s data while ensuring data is backed up into a cloud mitigates the risks of local storage. Several organizations mistake data management software as a substitute for their IT backup services. While document management services do digitize and help an office manage paperwork more efficiently, these electronic documents need to be backed up as part of a business continuity plan. Particularly, if the organization has chosen a traditional on-premise software platform as opposed to the ever-increasing in popularity cloud based solution. A non-existent or incomplete data backup plan could have an adverse fiscal and reputational impact on a company.

6. Incorrect Formats:

One of the most common mistakes of going paperless is the digitization of documents into unreadable or unsearchable formats. A typical scanner converts documents into PDF files that do not allow form or text data to be read or copied. A robust document management solution needs to come with Optical Character Recognition (OCR) capabilities to truly leverage the power of paperless operations. The lack of OCR-enabled documents, tables, spreadsheets and presentations causes all scanned documents to become static — i.e., their contents cannot be recognized as text and therefore, cannot be copied. Scanning without OCR is one of the most significant hindrances to a paperless office because it prevents users from searching or copying text from within scanned documents.

7. Trapped by the Desktop Computer:

In a world that relies on the increased mobility and portability of data, the paperless office often extends beyond the boundaries of the office building. When organizations go paper-free, they often make the mistake of using a document management solution that does not offer secure, cloud-based access or the ability to access documents through a mobile app.

Peterson notes that “Understanding the potential roadblocks to a successful paperless office can help your organization avoid them and ease into the use of digital document management software without losing productivity and efficiency.”

Marti Trewe reports on business and technology news, chasing his passion for helping entrepreneurs and small businesses to stay well informed in the fast paced 140-character world. Marti rarely sleeps and thrives on reader news tips, especially about startups and big moves in leadership.

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AI technology is using facial recognition to hire the “right” people

(TECH NEWS) Artificial intelligence (AI) technology has made its way into the hiring process and while the intentions are good, I vote we proceed with extreme caution.

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Artificial intelligence technology has made its way into the hiring process and while the intentions are good, I vote we proceed with extreme caution.

A UK based consumer goods giant, Unilever, is just one of several UK companies who have begun using AI technology to sort through initial job candidates. The goal of this technology is to increase the number of candidates whom a company can interview at the initial stages of the hiring process and to improve response time for those candidates.

The AI, developed by American company Hirevue, analyzes a candidate’s language, tone, and facial expression during a video interview. Hirevue insists that their product is different from traditional facial recognition technologies because it analyzes far more data points.

Hirevue’s chief technology officer, Loren Larsen, says, “We get about 25,000 data points from 15 minutes of video per candidate. The text, the audio and the video come together to give us a very clear analysis and rich data set of how someone is responding, the emotions and cognitions they go through.”
This data is then used to rank candidates on a scale of 1 to 100 against a database of traits identified in previously successful candidates.

There are two main flaws to this system. First, unless this AI technology is pulling from a huge diverse data pool it could be unintentionally discriminating against people without even being aware of it. Human bias is not as easy to remove from the equation as AI proponents would have you believe.

As an example, how does this AI handle people who are disabled or whose facial expressions that read differently than the general population, such as people with Down Syndrome or those who have survived traumatic facial injuries?

Second, seeking to hire someone who possess the same qualities as the person who was previously successful at a role is shortsighted. There are many ways to accomplish the same task with above average results. Companies who adopt this low-risk mentality could be missing out on great opportunities long-term. You will never know what actually works best if you don’t try.

The big question here is whether or not AI technology is ready to influence the job market on this scale.

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The ‘move fast and break things’ trend is finally over

(TECH NEWS) Time is running out for this decade — and for a popular Big Tech phrase responsible for a lot of collateral damage. What’s next?

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Time is running out for the decade. With less than 20 days left, it’s got us reflecting on the journeys of different economic sectors in the United States. And no industry has had a more tumultuous time of it than Big Tech.

A lot has changed in ten years. For starters, Americans have become increasingly disillusioned with Silicon Valley. The Pew Research Center found that only 50 percent of Americans believe technology firms have a positive effect on the country. That statistic is not too bad on its own, but that’s down 21 percent from only four years ago. Gallup found in 2019 that 48 percent of Americans also want more regulations on Big Tech. And The New York Times called the 2010s as “the decade Big Tech lost its way”.

Maybe that’s why big wigs at these tech firms have been quietly ditching a concept that was their Golden Rule in the early part of the decade: Move Fast and Break Things.

This concept is a modern take on the adage “you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.” For most of these firms, any innovation justified some of the collateral damage within its wake. And this scrappy “build it now and worry about it later” philosophy was a favorite of not just Facebook and Twitter, but also of many venture capital firms too.

But not anymore. Outlets from Forbes to HBR are saying this doesn’t work for Big Tech in the 2020s. Here are some reasons why it’s over.

Stability

The Move Fast and Break Things manta encouraged devs to push their coding changes to go live and let the chips fall where they may. But bugs pile up. Enter technical debt.

“Technical debt happens every time you do things that might get you closer to your goal now but create problems that you’ll have to fix later,” said The Quantified VC in an article on Medium. “As you move fast and break things, you will certainly accumulate technical debt.”

If enough technical debt comes into play, any new line of code could be the thing that topples a firm like a house of cards. And now that the consumer is used to tech in their daily routines, interruptions in service are extremely bad news for everyone.

As Mark Zuckerburg himself said it: “When you build something that you don’t have to fix 10 times, you can move forward on top of what you’ve built.”

Trust

To get back some of the trust that has ebbed from Big Tech over the years, firms can’t just keep with the Move Fast and Break Things status quo.

“The public will continue to grow weary of perceived abuses by tech companies, and will favor businesses that address economic, social, and environmental problems,” said Hemant Taneja in his article for Harvard Business Review. “Minimum viable products must be replaced by minimum virtuous products that … build in guards against potential harms.”

It’s not about chasing the bottom dollar at the cost of the consumer. Losing trust will hurt any company if left unchecked for long.

Innovation

There’s a cap on advancement in our current technological state. It’s called Moore’s Law. And we’re rapidly approaching the theoretical limits of it.

“When you understand the fundamental technology that underlies a product or service, you can move quickly, trying out nearly endless permutations until you arrive at an optimized solution. That’s often far more effective than a more planned, deliberate approach,” said Greg Satell in his article for HBR.

Soon enough, Big Tech will be in relatively new waters with quantum computing, biofeedback and AI. There’s no way to move as fast as these technology firms have in the past. And even if they could, should they?

Big Tech has experienced major growing pains since the dawn of our new Millenium. And now that some firms are entering their 20s, there’s a choice to be made. Continue to grow up or keep using an idea that’s worn out it’s welcome with the consumer and that has no guarantee will work with future technologies.

Maybe that’s why Facebook’s motto is now “Move Fast with Stable Infrastructure.”

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Computer vision helps AI create a recipe from just a photo

(TECH NEWS) It’s so hard to find the right recipe for that beautiful meal you saw on tv or online. Well computer vision helps AI recreate it from a picture!

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Ever seen at a photo of a delicious looking meal on Instagram and wondered how the heck to make that? Now there’s an AI for that, kind of.

Facebook’s AI research lab has been developing a system that can analyze a photo of food and then create a recipe. So, is Facebook trying to take on all the food bloggers of the world now too?

Well, not exactly, the AI is part of an ongoing effort to teach AI how to see and then understand the visual world. Food is just a fun and challenging training exercise. They have been referring to it as “inverse cooking.”

According to Facebook, “The “inverse cooking” system uses computer vision, technology that extracts information from digital images and videos to give computers a high level of understanding of the visual world,”

The concept of computer vision isn’t new. Computer vision is the guiding force behind mobile apps that can identify something just by snapping a picture. If you’ve ever taken a photo of your credit card on an app instead of typing out all the numbers, then you’ve seen computer vision in action.

Facebook researchers insist that this is no ordinary computer vision because their system uses two networks to arrive at the solution, therefore increasing accuracy. According to Facebook research scientist Michal Drozdzal, the system works by dividing the problem into two parts. A neutral network works to identify ingredients that are visible in the image, while the second network pulls a recipe from a kind of database.

These two networks have been the key to researcher’s success with more complicated dishes where you can’t necessarily see every ingredient. Of course, the tech team hasn’t stepped foot in the kitchen yet, so the jury is still out.

This sounds neat and all, but why should you care if the computer is learning how to cook?

Research projects like this one carry AI technology a long way. As the AI gets smarter and expands its limits, researchers are able to conceptualize new ways to put the technology to use in our everyday lives. For now, AI like this is saving you the trouble of typing out your entire credit card number, but someday it could analyze images on a much grander scale.

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