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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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OnePlus swears to kinda stop collecting invasive data from users

(TECH NEWS) Inadvertently discovered during a hackathon, OnePlus was ousted for collecting insane amounts of data on users’ phones and promises to make a small change.

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Users of OnePlus phones were alarmed to learn this week that the company has been collecting large amounts of data from users without their consent or knowledge.

Software Engineer, Christopher Moore was participating in a hacking challenge when he discovered that his phone was sending excessive amounts of data to the OnePlus servers.

While it’s normal for your phone to automatically send data to headquarters when you have a bug or a system crash, OnePlus was collecting data every time the phone was turned off or on, and whenever apps were used.

“Moore says that OnePlus is collecting data such as phone numbers, serial numbers, WiFi and mobile network information, MAC addresses, and information about when and how apps are used, including Outlook and Slack.”

An opt-out option was buried deep within advanced settings. Most users were not aware that their data was being collected and transmitted.

In response to the user outcry, OnePlus posted an explanation on their support forum, saying that they were using the data to “fine tune our software according to user behavior” and to “provide better after-sales support.”

The company has promised to stop collecting MAC addresses, phone numbers, and WiFi information by the end of the month. They also say that they will update their terms of service to be more transparent about the data they are collecting, and will set up an opt-out option in the operating system’s setup wizard that will allow users to decide whether or not they want to join a “user experience program.”

While OnePlus claims that they have never given or sold information to a third party, users are suspicious that the types of data OnePlus is collecting would eventually be sold to marketers.

Even if you choose to opt out of the “user experience program”, OnePlus will continue to collect your data, but it will not be directly associated with your device. Users have generally not been satisfied with this response, saying that the company should give users the option of stopping all data transmissions.

Says Christopher Moore “Unfortunately, as a system service, there doesn’t appear to be any way of permanently disabling this data collection or removing this functionality without rooting the phone.”

You kind of blew it, OnePlus. You were caught red-handed, and it will take more than a partial opt out program to regain your customers’ trust.

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Tech News

With reward comes risk: facial recognition and privacy

(TECH NEWS) Facial recognition and artificial intelligence are awesome rewards from technical innovation but with reward comes risk.

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Technology is an omnipresent force in all of our lives. It is the core of innovation, providing us with quick, new ways to research, socialize and entertain ourselves. It seems like everyone is taking advantage of rapidly changing technology.

However what one person thinks as a reward of new systems may actually be a risk to someone else.

Take for instance, facial recognition software. Facebook uses it to identify familiar faces in photos and Apple uses it to unlock phones. It’s everywhere.

Even the porn industry is getting in on it. PornHub, a major online source for adult content, announced their new plan to use AI to help categorize the 10,000 plus videos that are uploaded every day.

Prior to this update, the site used a system of tagging videos to keep them organized. I would go into examples of such categories, but I’ll leave that up to the imagination.

One non-explicit example is organizing content based on the names of the stars of the film. Both the site itself and users had the ability to add tags to videos.

Regardless, this was not fast enough. By integrating AI software, PornHub hopes to expedite this process.

While this may sound like a smart business decision, this seems like high risk beginning to inadvertently diminish privacy rights.

Many people in the porn industry have alternate personas to separate their work and personal lives. Facial recognition software may pull from sources from both sides of that spectrum and end up merging the two.

This has already been the case on Facebook via the recommendations the site makes for “people you may know” via your internet practices.

However, it’s not just a matter of protecting the identity for a professional or amateur porn actor, it’s also about the privacy of clients.

Imagine being recommended to friend the star of the last video you streamed. This industry in particular, requires a level of discretion.

To combat some of the fears, PornHub has insists that the AI software only tags from the 10,000 stars in their database. Though as this update has proven, they could expand their database to keep up with the demand in the future.

It’s a technological advantage for their organization, but at what cost to others’ privacy?

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Tech News

Be My Eyes app offers eyes to those that need ’em

(TECH NEWS) Even with the best coping techniques, some people need help from time to time — enter Be My Eyes for the seeing impaired community.

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It’s nice to see a free app that connects helpful volunteers with folks seeking assistance.

“See” being a relative term here, because the free Be My Eyes app is designed to assist people who are visually impaired or blind. The anonymous and free app allows visually impaired users to connect, via video, to sighted volunteers who can then provide “visual assistance” to help with tasks such as identifying objects or describing environments.

Visually impaired users seeking assistance simply call in and the app finds the first available volunteer, usually within 45 to 60 seconds. The app automatically connects to a sighted volunteer who speaks the user’s language. There are currently volunteers representing 90 languages in 150 countries.

Be My Eyes also tracks the time zones in users’ locations so that visually impaired users can access the service 24 hours a day without worrying that they’ll disturb volunteers at night.

After dark, the app will even find a volunteer in the opposite hemisphere. Users are encouraged to ask for assistance whenever they want and as often as needed.

Sighted volunteers receive a notification when a visually impaired user seeks assistance. The volunteer can then decide whether or not to receive the call. If they aren’t available, the call is simply forwarded to the next appropriate volunteer.

Visually impaired users say they’ve used Be My Eyes to get help with finding lost items, reading instructions, navigating new places and public transportation, shopping, and more.

The app itself was invented by a visually impaired innovator, Hans Jørgen Wiberg, a member of the Danish Association of the Blind who began losing his sight at age 25.

Says Wiberg, “It is flexible, takes only a few minutes to help and the app is therefore a good opportunity for the busy, modern individual with the energy to help others.”

Wilberg presented his idea for Be My Eyes at a startup event in Denmark in 2012. He was able to recruit a team of developers, who rolled out the app in 2015.

Some critics have pointed out that the app tends to reinforce the stereotype that visually impaired people, and people with disabilities in general, are helpless and dependent on others to get by. Presumably, blind people have developed inventive strategies for solving everyday challenges long before Be My Eyes was ever invented.

According to the reviews from sighted volunteers, many wait weeks at a time to get an inquiry. The Be My Eyes network currently has about ten times more volunteers than users, which begs the question: Do blind people actually want to use this app?

If you’d like to try it out, as either a visually impaired user or a sighted volunteer, you can download the app for Android at the Google Play Store or for iOS at the App Store.

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