Banker box physical storage vs. Scanned document cloud storage

This is one of those comparisons that you have to dig pretty deep into to see the real pros and cons of each scenario.  

On average it costs about $4.82 to handle a single paper document. If you think about all the paper documents you store within your business and need to retrieve on a daily basis, those numbers start to add up fast. 

As banker boxes start adding up, the need to do something with them becomes apparent. 

Most paper documents live 30 to 90 days dispersed between mail room, physical department inbox, peoples desks, and filing cabinets before they are put into bankers boxes for long term storage. These bankers boxes are either stacked and stored somewhere at the company’s property or they are shipped to a facility that specializes in physical paper document storage.

Another scenario is that existing bankers boxes are sent to a scanning service bureau, of which could also be a facility that specializes in physical paper document storage, to be prepped, scanned, indexed and uploaded to a secure cloud storage repository or on premise document imaging application. These documents are considered a “backfile conversion”. Newly received documents are typically prepped, scanned, indexed and uploaded to the same secure cloud or on premise storage repository on a daily basis but by company’s staff unless the volumes are too large. These documents are considered “day forward conversion”. 

Now this is how the documents wind up in their respective long term spaces but what are the differences of both scenarios and what about retrieval?

Storing banker boxes on site:

The number one reason why organizations deal in a paper only environment is resistance to change. If it’s not broken, why fix it? Unfortunately this is what happens when the real understanding of the costs and inefficiencies is hiding in the shadows. 

If documents are not scanned and before the documents are archived, we are dealing with paper documents that can only be in one place at one time and only retrieved by one person unless there are copies made. When working with paper documents, collaboration is extremely difficult. One of the biggest drawbacks of paper-based document management systems is the associated costs. You will need more printers and photocopiers, filing cabinets, and other office supplies including banker boxes. These costs add up and can become a significant expense. One of the biggest information security risks for businesses is paper because printed documents can be easily lost, mishandled or damaged. Paper documents can take up a significant amount of space, and the quantity of paper will increase day by day. There is also the very real threat of disaster of which there is no means of recovery. 

Storing banker boxes off site:

Iron Mountain is considered to be one of the largest document storage facilities in the US with over 1,500 storage facilities. They are highly regarded in this industry. We will use Iron Mountain as our example.

The following information was gathered from the Iron Mountain website:

With Iron Mountain, it costs $139 to store from 1 to 80 boxes per month. It costs $67 to retrieve one box that you pick up. If in the course of one year, you store up to 80 boxes and need to retrieve documents from 10 boxes per month, there would be a cost of $670 per month or $8,040  per year to manage these documents. If you need 25 documents per month that costs rises to $16,750 per year. 

If you store 1 to 80 more boxes the next year, your storage costs double and will continue to do so until you can start purging older documents. There is another cost to destroy the boxes at $889 to shred 55-100 boxes.

These documents will not be instantly accessible to get to the right person and you still need to search through the bankers box to find the right document once you get to it. 

So the moral of this story is that if you almost never need a document once it’s stored, this could be the most economical way to store your documents.

Using a digital repository for your scanned documents.

Information access is the key to process improvement – the ability to search and retrieve documents in seconds, not hours or days, the ability to share or comment on the documents digitally, or respond immediately to an internal or external customer information request. These process productivity and customer response improvements can deliver far more ROI than simply comparing the cost of storage to the cost of conversion, and they provide the long-term benefits of information access. 

According to an Association for Intelligent Information Management (AIIM) survey, The biggest driver for scanning and data capture is improved searchability and shareability (53%). Higher productivity, reduced storage space and faster response are all key drivers.

Information access is the key to process improvement – the ability to search and retrieve documents in seconds, not hours or days, the ability to share or comment on the documents digitally, or respond immediately to an internal or external customer information request. These process productivity and customer response improvements can deliver far more ROI than simply comparing the cost of storage to the cost of conversion, and they provide the long-term benefits of information access.

According to an AIIM survey, The biggest driver for scanning and data capture is improved searchability and shareability (53%). Higher productivity, reduced storage space and faster response are all key drivers.

Per the Iron Mountain website (, if you want to store your documents in their cloud storage, It costs $500 to prepare documents for scanning, scan, and index four fields per document / per bankers box. There is also a $150 per month online storage space for up to and every 250 bankers boxes.

Per the ScanSearch website (, it costs $325 to prepare documents for scanning, scan, and full text index per bankers box. ScanSearch utilizes full text OCR to index documents. 

Index or utilize full text OCR for scanned documents

Full-text OCR (Optical Character Recognition) and field indexing are two different approaches to extracting information from scanned documents. Each method has its advantages, and the choice between them depends on the specific requirements of the document management or information retrieval system. Here are some benefits of full-text OCR compared to field indexing:

  • Comprehensive Information Extraction:
    • Full-Text Content: Full-text OCR extracts and makes searchable the entire text content of a document, capturing all words and characters. This allows for comprehensive information retrieval, especially when the content is relevant across the entire document.
  • Flexibility in Search Queries:
    • Unrestricted Search Queries: Users can perform flexible and unrestricted search queries across the entire text of documents. This flexibility is particularly beneficial when users are uncertain about the specific field or metadata to search for.
  • No Predefined Fields Required:
    • Dynamic Document Types: Full-text OCR doesn’t require predefined fields or structured data. It is suitable for documents with varying formats, layouts, or structures, making it adaptable to different types of content.
  • Minimizes Manual Data Entry:
    • Automation: Full-text OCR minimizes the need for manual data entry since it automatically extracts and indexes the textual content of documents. This reduces the potential for human errors and speeds up the indexing process.
  • Time and Cost Efficiency:
    • Quick Implementation: Implementing full-text OCR can be quicker and more cost-effective, especially when dealing with large volumes of documents. It eliminates the need for extensive manual indexing efforts.
  • Effective for Document Discovery:
    • Discovery of Relevant Content: Full-text OCR is effective for discovering relevant content within documents, making it suitable for applications where the goal is to find information across various document types without prior knowledge of specific fields.
  • Applicability to Content Analysis:
    • Content Mining: Full-text OCR enables content mining and analysis, allowing organizations to gain insights from large datasets by identifying patterns, trends, or keywords within the textual content.

The time it takes to index a scanned document can vary widely based on several factors. Here are key considerations that can influence the time required for document indexing:

  • Document Complexity:
    • Simple vs. Complex Documents: The complexity of the document significantly impacts indexing time. Simple, well-structured documents may be indexed more quickly than complex documents with varied layouts, tables, and graphics.
  • Document Length:
    • Short vs. Long Documents: The length of the document matters. Indexing a short document may be a quick process, while longer documents, especially those with multiple pages, may take more time.
  • Volume of Documents:
    • Single vs. Bulk Indexing: The time required is influenced by the volume of documents. Indexing a single document will take less time compared to bulk indexing, where many documents need to be processed simultaneously.
  • Quality of Scanned Images:
    • Clear vs. Poor-Quality Scans: The quality of the scanned images affects OCR accuracy. Clear, high-resolution scans with legible text are processed more quickly, while poor-quality scans may require additional processing time and manual verification.
  • OCR Technology and Automation:
    • Automation vs. Manual Indexing: The use of advanced OCR technology and automation tools can significantly reduce indexing time. Automated extraction of text and metadata speeds up the process compared to manual data entry.
  • Complexity of Metadata Extraction:
    • Simple vs. Detailed Metadata: Extracting simple metadata (e.g., dates, titles) may be faster than extracting detailed or complex metadata. The level of detail required in the indexing process influences the time investment.
  • System Performance:
    • Processing Speed: The speed and performance of the hardware and software used for indexing play a role. High-performance systems can process documents more quickly than slower systems.
  • Human Involvement:
    • Automation vs. Manual Verification: The level of human involvement affects indexing time. Fully automated processes may be faster, but some applications may require manual verification to ensure accuracy.
  • Indexing Methodology:
    • Full-Text OCR vs. Field Indexing: The choice between full-text OCR and field indexing influences the time required. Full-text OCR processes the entire document content, while field indexing focuses on specific metadata.
  • Preprocessing Steps:
    • Document Preparation: Any preprocessing steps, such as document preparation, cropping, or enhancing image quality, can add to the overall time required for indexing.

It’s important to note that advancements in OCR technology and automation tools have significantly reduced indexing times for many applications. However, the specific requirements of the indexing task, the characteristics of the documents, and the chosen technology or tools all contribute to the overall time investment. Organizations should assess their specific needs and workflows to determine the most efficient indexing approach for their context.

  • OCR Technology and Automation:
    • Automated vs. Manual Data Entry: The use of Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology and automated data extraction tools can significantly speed up the process compared to manual data entry. Automated tools can extract text and populate fields more quickly.
  • Quality of Scanned Images:
    • Clear vs. Poor-Quality Scans: High-quality, clear scans with legible text facilitate faster data entry. Poor-quality scans may require additional time for manual verification and correction.
  • Volume of Data:
    • Amount of Data to Enter: The total volume of data to be entered directly impacts the time required. Entering a small amount of data will be quicker than entering large volumes of information.
  • Accuracy Requirements:
    • Accuracy vs. Speed: The level of accuracy required in data entry can affect the speed of the process. Balancing accuracy and speed is essential to avoid errors that may require later correction.
  • Human Involvement:
    • Manual Verification: Even with automated tools, some applications may require manual verification to ensure accuracy. The extent of human involvement in the verification process influences the overall time investment.
  • Data Validation and Quality Control:
    • Validation Processes: Implementing data validation and quality control measures may add time to the data entry process, but it ensures the accuracy and reliability of the entered data.
  • Experience and Training:
    • Data Entry Operator Skills: The experience and training of the data entry operators play a role. Skilled operators familiar with the document types and data formats can work more efficiently.
  • Document Preparation:
    • Preprocessing Steps: Any preprocessing steps, such as document preparation, sorting, or organization, can impact the overall time required for data entry.
  • Integration with Automated Systems:
    • System Integration: Integration with automated systems or data entry software can streamline the process, reducing manual effort and accelerating data entry.
  • Efficiency of Tools and Software:
    • Efficiency of Data Entry Tools: The efficiency and user-friendliness of the tools and software used for data entry contribute to overall speed and productivity.The Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM), after completing two surveys on the costs and benefits of paper-based and paperless solutions, said that the majority of the organizations they surveyed (84%) had achieved a payback, or total return on investment (ROI) from a paperless office software project in less than 18 months. 59% got all of their money back in less than 12 months; 26% achieved ROI in six months or less.

Storing scanned documents online, as opposed to using physical storage services like Iron Mountain, offers several benefits. Here are some advantages of online document storage:

  • Accessibility:
    • Anywhere, Anytime Access: Online storage allows users to access documents from any location with an internet connection. This is especially beneficial for businesses with remote or distributed teams.
    • Multiple Devices: Documents can be accessed and viewed on various devices, such as computers, tablets, and smartphones.
  • Cost Efficiency:
    • Reduced Physical Storage Costs: Online storage eliminates the need for physical space, filing cabinets, and off-site storage services, potentially reducing costs associated with physical storage facilities.
    • Lower Overhead: Digital storage reduces administrative overhead related to managing physical documents, such as transportation and handling costs.
  • Search and Retrieval:
    • Efficient Search: Online storage platforms often provide robust search functionalities, making it easy to locate specific documents quickly through keywords, metadata, or other search criteria.
    • Version Control: Digital storage systems often include versioning capabilities, allowing users to track changes and revert to previous versions if needed.
  • Security:
    • Encryption: Many online storage solutions implement encryption measures to secure data, protecting it from unauthorized access.
    • Access Control: Online storage platforms often offer granular access controls, allowing administrators to restrict access to sensitive documents based on user roles and permissions.
  • Disaster Recovery:
    • Data Backups: Online storage solutions typically include automated backup processes, ensuring data integrity and providing a means for disaster recovery.
    • Redundancy: Data redundancy measures can be implemented to safeguard against data loss due to hardware failures or other unexpected events.
  • Collaboration:
    • Real-time Collaboration: Online storage facilitates real-time collaboration among team members, allowing multiple users to work on and edit documents simultaneously.
    • Version History: Version tracking helps teams keep tabs on document changes, making collaboration more transparent and accountable.
  • Environmental Impact:
    • Reduced Paper Usage: Shifting to online storage reduces the need for printing and storing physical documents, contributing to environmental sustainability.
  • Scalability:
    • Easier Expansion: Online storage solutions can be more easily scaled to accommodate growing data volumes compared to physical storage systems.

While these benefits highlight the advantages of online document storage, it’s essential to consider specific business needs, security requirements, and compliance standards when choosing a storage solution. Additionally, a hybrid approach that combines digital and physical storage may be appropriate for certain organizations depending on their unique circumstances.

Now let’s take a closer look at the details….

Bankers boxes off site


Storing documents off-site in bankers boxes, typically in a secure records management facility or storage warehouse, can offer several advantages for organizations. Here are some benefits of this approach:

Storing documents in bankers boxes within a professional storage facility offers several advantages for organizations. Here are some key benefits:

  • Secure Storage:
    • Controlled Environment: Storage facilities often provide controlled environments with regulated temperature and humidity levels to protect documents from deterioration due to environmental factors.
    • Security Measures: Reputable storage facilities implement security measures such as surveillance cameras, access controls, and personnel, reducing the risk of theft or unauthorized access.
  • Organization and Cataloging:
    • Professional Indexing: Many storage facilities offer professional indexing and cataloging services. This makes it easier for organizations to locate specific documents when needed, contributing to efficient document management.
  • Compliance with Regulations:
    • Legal and Regulatory Compliance: Off-site storage can aid organizations in meeting legal and regulatory compliance requirements for document retention and privacy. Storage facilities may have procedures aligned with industry-specific regulations.
  • Disaster Recovery:
    • Backup and Redundancy: Professional storage facilities often have backup systems and redundancy measures in place, reducing the risk of data loss in the event of a disaster.
    • Insurance Coverage: Some storage facilities offer insurance coverage for documents stored on their premises, providing an additional layer of protection.
  • Cost-Effective Use of Office Space:
    • Space Optimization: Storing documents off-site allows organizations to optimize their office space by reducing the need for on-site storage, leading to potential cost savings.
    • Avoiding Capital Expenses: Renting storage space eliminates the need for capital investments in specialized on-site storage solutions.
  • Focus on Core Activities:
    • Reduced Administrative Burden: Outsourcing document storage allows organizations to focus on their core activities without the administrative overhead associated with managing on-site filing systems.
  • Professional Handling:
    • Trained Staff: Storage facilities employ trained personnel who handle documents with care during transportation, indexing, and retrieval processes.
    • Preservation of Documents: Professional storage practices contribute to the preservation of documents, reducing the risk of physical damage.
  • Scalability:
    • Flexible Storage Options: Off-site storage solutions often offer flexibility, allowing organizations to adjust their storage space based on changing needs without the need for significant upfront investments.
  • Quick Retrieval Services:
    • Request and Retrieval Services: Many storage facilities provide services for quickly retrieving specific documents when needed, minimizing delays in accessing critical information.
  • Long-Term Document Preservation:
    • Extended Lifespan: Storing documents in a controlled environment can extend their lifespan, preserving the quality of paper documents over an extended period.
  • Environmental Considerations:
    • Reduced Environmental Impact: By utilizing off-site storage and potentially reducing the need for extensive on-site paper storage, organizations contribute to environmental sustainability by consuming fewer resources.


While storing documents in bankers boxes within a storage facility has its advantages, there are also some potential disadvantages to consider:

  • Cost-Effective for Small Volumes:
    • For organizations with a relatively small volume of documents, using bankers boxes can be a cost-effective solution, especially when compared to the initial investment in scanning equipment and software.
  • Simplicity and Ease of Implementation:
    • Storing documents in bankers boxes is a straightforward and easy-to-implement solution. It doesn’t require specialized training or significant changes to existing workflows.
  • No Technology Dependence:
    • Storing documents physically eliminates the need for dependence on technology. There are no concerns about software compatibility, data migration, or potential issues related to digital file formats.
  • No Ongoing Maintenance Costs:
    • While digital storage solutions may incur ongoing maintenance costs, storing documents in bankers boxes has fewer ongoing expenses. There’s no need to worry about server maintenance, software updates, or data storage fees.
  • Tactile Accessibility:
    • Some individuals prefer the tactile experience of working with physical documents. Retrieving, flipping through, and reviewing paper documents can be more familiar and comfortable for certain tasks.
  • Preservation of Original Documents:
    • Certain documents, especially those with historical or legal significance, may be preserved better in their original paper form. This is often important for maintaining the integrity of the document.
  • Quick Access for Small Collections:
    • For small to moderately sized collections of documents, storing them in bankers boxes allows for relatively quick and easy manual retrieval without the need for a complex organizational system.
  • Security through Physical Control:
    • Some organizations or individuals may perceive physical storage as more secure, especially if access to the physical storage area is tightly controlled, reducing the risk of unauthorized access.
  • Long-Term Storage Stability:
    • Paper documents, when stored in appropriate conditions, can have a long lifespan. Properly stored bankers boxes can protect documents from environmental factors that could degrade their quality over time.
  • Legal and Compliance Considerations:
    • In some cases, legal or industry-specific regulations may require the retention of original paper documents, and storing them in bankers boxes can assist in meeting compliance requirements.

Bankers boxes onsite


Storing documents in bankers boxes onsite, within an organization’s premises, offers several advantages, especially for businesses that prefer immediate access to their documents or have specific operational needs. Here are some advantages of onsite document storage in bankers boxes:

  • Immediate Accessibility:
    • Quick Retrieval: Documents stored onsite are readily accessible, allowing for quick retrieval whenever needed. This is beneficial for tasks that require immediate access to information.
  • Control Over Document Management:
    • Direct Oversight: Organizations maintain direct control over their document management processes, ensuring that documents are handled, organized, and stored according to their specific needs.
  • Cost Savings for Small Volumes:
    • Reduced Overhead: For organizations with a relatively small volume of documents, onsite storage can be cost-effective, eliminating the need for external storage fees or transportation costs.
  • Convenience for Daily Operations:
    • Daily Workflows: Onsite document storage facilitates seamless integration with daily workflows, making it convenient for employees to access and update documents as part of their regular tasks.
  • Flexibility and Customization:
    • Tailored Organization: Organizations can customize onsite storage systems to meet their unique organizational structure and document categorization, ensuring that documents are organized according to specific needs.
  • Avoiding External Dependency:
    • Independence: Organizations avoid dependency on external storage providers, reducing the risk of disruptions in case of changes in service agreements or unexpected issues with external storage facilities.
  • Security Measures:
    • Controlled Access: Onsite storage allows organizations to implement and control access to sensitive documents more directly, enhancing security measures and reducing the risk of unauthorized access.
  • Legal and Compliance Oversight:
    • Direct Compliance Management: Organizations can have direct oversight of compliance with legal and regulatory requirements related to document storage, ensuring adherence to industry-specific regulations.
  • Customizable Security Protocols:
    • Tailored Security Measures: Organizations can implement specific security protocols, including video surveillance, access controls, and alarms, based on their unique security requirements.
  • Immediate Response to Emergencies:
    • Emergency Situations: In emergency situations, such as power outages or network failures, onsite document storage ensures that critical documents remain accessible without reliance on external services.
  • Ownership and Control Over Space:
    • Space Management: Organizations have full control over how they use their office space, including the allocation of areas for document storage. This allows for efficient space management.


While storing documents in bankers boxes onsite has its advantages, there are also potential disadvantages that organizations should consider:

  • Space Constraints:
  • Limited Scalability: Onsite storage may become impractical as document volumes grow, leading to challenges in finding adequate space to accommodate increasing storage needs.
  • Security Risks:
  • Vulnerability to Theft or Loss: Onsite storage is subject to the security measures implemented by the organization, and in some cases, the risk of theft or loss may be higher compared to secure offsite storage facilities.
  • Environmental Factors:
  • Risk of Environmental Damage: Documents stored onsite are susceptible to environmental factors such as fire, floods, or other disasters. Inadequate environmental controls can lead to damage or loss of critical documents.
  • Lack of Disaster Recovery Plan:
  • Limited Redundancy: Onsite storage lacks the built-in redundancy and backup systems often provided by professional storage facilities, increasing the vulnerability of documents in the event of a disaster.
  • Higher Administrative Burden:
  • Organizational Overhead: Managing onsite document storage systems requires more organizational overhead, including the need for designated personnel, equipment, and resources for maintaining and organizing documents.
  • Access and Retrieval Challenges:
  • Delayed Retrieval: Finding and retrieving specific documents onsite may take longer compared to using advanced search functionalities in digital storage systems or utilizing professional retrieval services.
  • Lack of Professional Indexing:
  • Organizational Challenges: Without professional indexing services, organizing and categorizing documents may be more challenging, leading to inefficiencies in document retrieval.
  • Dependency on Personnel:
  • Dependency on Key Individuals: The organization’s reliance on specific personnel for document management tasks can pose risks, especially if these individuals are unavailable or leave the organization.
  • Costs of Onsite Security Measures:
  • Investment in Security: Implementing robust security measures onsite, such as surveillance systems and access controls, can be costly and may require ongoing maintenance.
  • Limited Collaboration Opportunities:
  • Reduced Collaborative Workflows: Onsite storage may limit collaborative opportunities since team members may need to physically access the same location to work on documents.
  • Privacy Concerns:
  • Limited Privacy Controls: Onsite storage may present challenges in implementing nuanced privacy controls for different categories of documents, potentially leading to privacy concerns.
  • Compliance Challenges:
  • Risk of Non-Compliance: Meeting compliance requirements for document storage, especially in regulated industries, may be more challenging without the professional assistance often available in offsite storage facilities.

Storing scanned documents in the cloud


Storing scanned documents in the cloud offers numerous advantages, contributing to enhanced accessibility, collaboration, and overall efficiency in document management. Here are several key benefits:

  • Remote Access:
    • Access Anywhere: Cloud storage allows users to access scanned documents from any location with an internet connection, promoting remote work, collaboration across geographies, and flexibility in accessing information.
  • Real-Time Collaboration:
    • Collaborative Workflows: Multiple users can collaborate on the same document simultaneously, fostering real-time collaboration and eliminating version control issues often associated with traditional document storage.
  • Secure Sharing:
    • Controlled Access: Cloud platforms offer secure sharing options, enabling users to share documents with specific permissions. This ensures controlled access, reducing the risk of unauthorized changes or sharing.
  • Scalability:
    • Flexible Storage: Cloud storage is highly scalable, allowing organizations to easily expand or reduce storage capacity based on their needs without the need for physical infrastructure upgrades.
  • Cost Efficiency:
    • Reduced Infrastructure Costs: Cloud storage eliminates the need for organizations to invest in and maintain their physical storage infrastructure, resulting in potential cost savings.
    • Pay-as-You-Go Models: Many cloud providers offer pay-as-you-go pricing models, allowing organizations to pay for the storage they use rather than committing to fixed infrastructure costs.
  • Automated Backups:
    • Data Redundancy: Cloud storage providers often implement redundancy measures, automatically backing up data across multiple servers. This minimizes the risk of data loss due to hardware failures.
    • Automated Backup Processes: Regular automated backups help protect against accidental deletion, data corruption, or other unforeseen issues.
  • Security Features:
    • Data Encryption: Cloud storage services typically encrypt data during transmission and while at rest, providing a secure environment for storing sensitive information.
    • Access Controls: Robust access control features enable organizations to define and manage user access levels, enhancing overall data security.
  • Version Control:
    • Document Versioning: Cloud storage platforms often include version control features, allowing users to track changes, revert to previous versions, and collaborate seamlessly on the latest document versions.
  • Search and Retrieval Efficiency:
    • Advanced Search Capabilities: Cloud platforms usually offer advanced search functionalities, making it easier to locate specific documents quickly based on keywords, metadata, or content.
    • Organizational Tools: Users can organize documents into folders, categories, or tags, improving overall document management efficiency.
  • Integration with Productivity Tools:
    • Seamless Integrations: Cloud storage seamlessly integrates with a variety of productivity tools, project management systems, and other software applications, streamlining workflows and increasing overall efficiency.
  • Environmental Considerations:
    • Reduced Carbon Footprint: Cloud storage contributes to environmental sustainability by reducing the need for physical infrastructure and the associated energy consumption compared to traditional on-premises storage.
  • Disaster Recovery:
    • Geographic Redundancy: Cloud providers often have data centers in multiple geographic locations, providing a geographically dispersed backup. This enhances disaster recovery capabilities and minimizes the impact of regional disruptions.
  • Automatic Updates and Maintenance:
    • Vendor Responsibility: Cloud providers handle system updates, maintenance, and security patches, relieving organizations of the burden of managing these tasks internally.


  • On average, the labor cost to file one document is $20.
  • Between two percent and five percent of an organization’s files are lost or misfiled on any given day.
  • Companies, on average, spend $120 in labor to find one misfiled document.
  • One out of every 20 documents is lost.
  • Approximately 25 hours are spent recreating each lost document.
  • Approximately 10-12 percent of documents are not found on the first attempt.
  • 400 is the number of hours per year the average employee spends searching for documents.
  • More than 70 percent of today’s businesses would fail within three weeks if they suffered a catastrophic loss of paper based records due to fire or flood.
  • It takes an average of 10 minutes per paper document to retrieve, copy, and re-file.
  • The average document is copied 19 times.
  • 60 percent of employee time is spent working with documents.
  • 90 percent of a business’s information is in documents
  • Each four-drawer file cabinet holds an average of 10-12,000 documents, takes up nine square feet of floor space and costs $1500 per year.

–Sources: Gartner Group, AIIM, US Dept of Labor, Imaging Magazine, Coopers & Lybrand


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ScanSearch in the hotel industry

Hotel industry solution

The Hotels market in the United States is anticipated to experience a rise in revenue, with a projection of reaching US $110.50B by 2024.Furthermore, the market is  expected to exhibit an annual growth rate of 3.82%, which would result in a market volume projection of US $128.40B by 2028.

It is common for a hotel property to operate on a three shift rotation culminating in the Night Audit Shift. Typically, at the end of every shift any documents that are collected and reports that are printed are held to the side for the Night Audit Desk Agent shift to audit, sort, put into an envelope, and store in bankers boxes prior to rolling the day. These are referred to as “Night Audit Packs” which includes all of the shift paperwork throughout the day.

Shift paperwork includes things like the completed Shift Checklist for each shift, Guest Ledger, Arrivals List, Departures List, Housekeeping Room Status Report, Current Deposit Ledger (deposits taken and held for advanced deposit reservations), Credit Card Authorizations for in-house guests, Manual Room Revenue report, other sometimes applicable paperwork like Tax Exempt Reservation backup or Rate Authorization backup (like for a company rate code), and anything else that may have come up during a shift. Typically the paperwork that is saved is the paperwork that has been notated with updates/changes, and/or signed/dated for review by the Front Desk Associate and/or Manager on Duty.

ScanSearch can replace the bankers boxes by offering a simplistic method of storing the documents in a secure cloud storage space by using a current multifunction device or a desktop scanner. The method is to simply scan the shift documents and upload them. There is no other task needed as ScanSearch will use every word, phrase, and/or field on the document for retrieval. There are no steps needed to index or file the documents.

Source contributor: Taylor R., Hospitality Leader


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Google Drive/Dropbox/OneDrive VS. ScanSearch

One of the questions we are often asked is “how is ScanSearch any different than Google Drive, Dropbox, or MS OneDrive”? 

Google Drive, Dropbox, and OneDrive are great cloud document repositories for electronic documents such as spreadsheets, word documents, and Searchable PDF documents. All of these types of documents have searchable text as part of the file so you can search for them on content within the document. 

A scanned document, on the other hand, is just a picture of a document. There is no embedded text to search on. In fact, the only way to find a document is to literally search by the file name or use some sort of file folder structure. 

In either of these cases there is a significant possibility of inconsistent filing of the documents which renders the documents and information on them useless.


In other words, there are basically two types of PDF documents:

““Image-only” Scanned PDFs

When scanning hard copy documents on MFPs and office scanners, or when converting a camera image, jpg, tiff or screenshot into a PDF, the content is “locked” in a snapshot-like image.


Such image-only PDF documents contain just the scanned/photographed images of pages, without an underlying text layer. Consequently, image-only PDF files are not searchable, and their text usually cannot be modified or marked up. An “image-only” PDF can be made searchable by applying OCR with which a text layer is added, normally under the page image.


Searchable PDFs


Searchable PDFs usually result through the application of OCR (Optical Character Recognition) to scanned PDFs or other image-based documents. During the text recognition process, characters and the document structure are analyzed and “read”. A text layer is added to the image layer, usually placed underneath. Such PDF files are almost indistinguishable from the original documents and are fully searchable. Text in searchable PDF documents can be selected, copied, and marked up.” (Abbyy 2023)

With ScanSearch, the scanned documents are converted into documents that can be searched and retrieved by the content on them. They are processed using the latest OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technology. Since every word, phrase and field of data is searchable, you have an extremely robust way to get to your scanned documents all in one place and in a bank-level secure environment.

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Why scan your company or department’s documents and store them online with ScanSearch?

Posted on: February 17, 2023  by Matt Dragatsis

Why scan your company or department’s documents and store them online with ScanSearch? It’s all about having a certain level of access to what is on those documents. The traditional method of storing documents in filing cabinets or worse, bankers boxes, you physically need to handle the paper document to have access to the information on it. Here is a real world example: 

On any given day, in any Accounts Payable department, a clerk gets a phone call from a vendor who is asking a question about a particular invoice that was sent to them. A lot of times it is just to verify that they received it. “I am just calling to verify that you have received invoice number INV-7843”. This is called document visibility and unless the invoice has been fully entered into the AP system no one has the answer to this unless they physically go to the pile of un-entered invoices and thumb through them to see if it is there. They then need to call the vendor back, hopefully get them on the phone, and confirm. This is just one reason you would need to get in front of an invoice….there are many. 

Back to our original question. If you scanned that pile of invoices in and uploaded them to ScanSearch, those documents would be available, online, within minutes and when that call came in, the question could be answered immediately. No getting out of your chair. No thumbing through the pile of invoices. No calling back with the answer to their question. In reality, that whole process could take 10 minutes or more, not to mention the disruption to what you are currently working on. How many times could the need to retrieve an invoice happen in a month? You may say most or our invoices are received as PDFs via email. Well, you still need to search through emails looking for the sender who sent it and this would exclude all paper invoices. You can set up a rule in your AP email box to forward to ScanSearch automatically so all your invoices will be in one place.

Your scanned documents and PDFs are really just pictures of non-searchable words. ScanSearch brings the documents to life with full text search capabilities. Search by any word or phrase once uploaded to the highly secure cloud repository. 

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Gold Fingers: The Most Expensive part of document scanning

Posted on: March 2, 2021 by Mike Hurley

The most expensive part of an Enterprise Content Management system (ECM) is not the software. It’s not the implementation, training or project management. Not the servers, scanners, integrations or web services either. No, not even the support, maintenance or upgrades.  After 25 years working with companies on ECM, workflow and Intelligent Capture (OCR) I have come to realize that the most expensive part of these systems is something rarely discussed. The real cost for most ECM and workflow systems is fingers of gold on keyboards.

Gold Fingers

Gold Fingers? Yes. Fingers touching keyboards to data enter indexes and keywords are one of the most expensive, yet rarely discussed, elements of ECM and workflow systems. Most ECM and Workflow vendors, consultants and customers rarely consider data entry in their cost benefit analysis, but the numbers are compelling. In fact, even a small staff of three to index documents typically costs over $150,000 when salaries, benefits and other costs are factored in. But that’s only part of the cost, data entry slows down mission critical processes and can introduce keying errors that can wreak havoc on downstream processes. Slowing processes and introducing errors most certainly impacts impact customer experience negatively.

1 in 67 Characters are Keyed in Error

One in sixty-seven characters is keyed in error. That does not seem too bad until you consider the “1-10-100 rule”. This rule states that if it takes 1 unit of work to complete a task on an item in the mailroom, it will take 10 units to correct that error mid-process.  If the item makes it all the way through the process to the end and fails, the rule goes on to state that it will take 100 times the effort to correct it. Thinking about this in terms of dollars, keying errors early in the process can cost 10X or 100X the errors that make it into an ECM or any other system.  Those fingers on keyboards really are gold. So why are these costs not figured into most systems?

The Shiny New Object

My experience is that our obsession with technology fuels a “tools first” approach to problem solving. Let’s face it, since the caveman sharpened his first axe, we have been fascinated by tools. Some are mesmerizing.  I recall going to a local Chicago Nabisco factory on a school trip and watching Oreos being made by the thousands by machines that were hypnotizing (#bestfieldtripever). Tools are shiny and new. They hold out the hope of a “silver bullet” – that ONE thing that might finally solve the problem. But the truth is that most tools need much more.  They need people and processes surrounding them to be effective and efficient. Many ECM and workflow buyers, bedazzled by the possibilities of these new tools, fail to consider implications of keying, quality errors or downstream costs. Most vendors and consultants are complicit in facilitating tools to be purchased and implemented without the hard work of a real (bean-counter approved) cost benefit analysis. Every self-respecting accountant knows that people costs and process changes must be factored into a return on investment calculation to understand a tool’s true value.

The Missing Link in Most ECM and Workflow Systems

The good news is that an approach that gained popularity in the 1990’s has, within the last five years, been cleverly combined with artificial intelligence and machine learning to address this problem. It offers the realistic possibility to reduce data entry by over 90% while trapping expensive errors early in the process. The combined technologies are called Intelligent Capture and represent taking the best of Optical Character Recognition (OCR), Handwriting Recognition (ICR) and partnering them up with AI to create a truly intelligent component missing in most ECM and workflow systems. The combination is remarkable and can radically reduce the cost and complexity of ECM and workflow processes. For example, we just completed a project that recognized handwritten enrollment forms with over 87% accuracy. After some tuning and machine learning, this solution will likely reduce data entry by well over 90% with higher quality than the previous process.

Reducing The Gold Content in Data Entry

I commonly hear the “It Ain’t Broke” story.  You may have heard it too. It goes something like this: “Why should I spend time on Intelligent Capture? My ECM and workflow seems to be working fine. Nobody is screaming at me. Plus, change is tough. Intelligent Capture sounds like change to me, plus we’re in a pandemic. It ain’t broke. We ain’t fixing it.”

Sorry to relay here that most systems are indeed broke. Additionally, the toughest change to deal with is the change that is unexpectedly thrust upon you by a competitor or market conditions. You need not look further than the recent unprecedented frigid weather in Texas as an example of an unanticipated event causing unexpected danger. Now apply that kind of event to your organization and you might find your ECM and workflow systems unprepared. Approaches like Intelligent Capture provide process agility for times when change stresses your company. They also can dramatically reduce entry costs and the 10-100X increase in downstream process costs that can be caused by errors.

Take the Golden Fingers out of your ECM and Workflow with BRYJ

Interested in learning more? Reduce the costs of entry and errors in your ECM and workflow systems. Give us a call. We offer assessments of existing Capture, ECM and Workflow systems to identify the opportunities to reduce costs with Intelligent Capture and can help you implement changes if they’re needed.  If you are interested in discussing, or if you simply have a comment, reach out to Mike Hurley at

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The True Cost of Paper in Your Business Operations

Joe Alvarez
301.840.6264 – Space, Document Management & Asset Tracking (RFID) Professional.
Published Apr 16, 2020

Research firm Gartner estimates that as much as 3% of a company’s revenue is spent on paper. Copy paper, note paper, invoices, letters, file folders…it all adds up, and it’s easy to quantify. But that’s just the hard costs. What is rarely calculated are the hidden costs all that paper generates.

A few statistics from a PriceWaterhouseCoopers study:

· 8 hours – the amount of time an employee spends managing paper documents each week

· $122 – the cost of finding a single lost document

· 750 – the number of lost paper documents per year, per mid-size business

There’s a dollar figure attached to this kind of lost productivity. Even though the math may not show up on a P&L spreadsheet, lost documents alone can be calculated to cost the average mid-size business $91,500 per year.

And that’s before calculating the cost of office space to store all those documents. Paper is undeniably bulky. Just 250 standard file cabinets take up 2,500 square feet. That adds up to a significant sum, too: $135,000 per year, on average.

Knowing those costs could make you think twice about using – and retaining – all that paper. But do you have a choice?

Imaging is the alternative. Converting paper documents to digital documents saves businesses the cost of all that storage space for physical documents. The contents of those 250 file cabinets, after conversion, will fit onto a single hard drive. With imaged documents safely stored on a drive, lost documents are a thing of the past, as is the cost of finding those lost documents.

Even better, businesses can take advantage of the cost savings of a remote workforce. Digital documents, unlike paper documents, can be shared readily with members of a distributed team. And remote teams require less office space, adding to the cost savings.

Of course paper still provides a valuable function even in the digital era. People have a positive response to information presented on paper, and they absorb and retain that information longer. Sales and marketing materials, for example, have a greater impact if they’re presented on paper.

But for many other areas of business operations, imaged documents present a significant value in the form of reduced real estate costs and improved productivity. Take a look at how your enterprise uses paper, uncover the hidden costs, and make a profitable move to imaging.

Joe Alvarez, president of National Office Systems Inc., has over 20 years’ experience helping companies and government agencies to bridge the gap between an organization’s processes and technology when considering storage and asset management systems. Since 1976, National Office Systems (NOS) has been the leading provider of the most affordable and comprehensive storage solutions (high density mobile shelving, automated storage and retrieval, stationary shelving, biometric secure access cabinets) and document management systems. NOS saves money for businesses when they move to a new space, showing them how building smaller spaces and leasing less space provides rapid return on investment for capital equipment projects.

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Joe AlvarezClick
Joe Alvarez
301.840.6264 – Space, Document Management & Asset Tracking (RFID) Professional.
Published Apr 16, 2020
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The Cost of Keeping Paper Documents

March 29, 2021

Storing paper documents for your business can seem simple at first, but over time you will begin to see the overwhelming document overload as well as a drop in your business productivity. According to a Gartner study, one out of every 20 documents is lost or misplaced and companies spend approximately 25 hours recreating those lost documents. Think of all your team could accomplish with that extra time —and the money you could save in labor costs.

Exactly what is the true cost of keeping your paper documents? And how do you avoid it? These are questions that we hear a lot of from our customers. Keep reading to see exactly why keeping your paper documents can be incredibly costly for your business, and how implementing a digital document management system can greatly reduce those costs.

Overall Cost

On average it costs about $4.82 to handle a single paper document and It is estimated that US companies will waste about $8 billion every year on managing paper. If you think about all the paper documents you store within your business and need to retrieve on a daily basis, those numbers start to add up fast. If you keep your documents stored in an offsite storage facility, retrieval costs alone can be expensive. What about when a file goes missing? How long would it take you to find it? Having your team thumb through hundreds of documents just to find one is not what you want your team to be putting their well paid time and effort towards.

You need to also take into consideration the upkeep of storing paper documents as well. According to a Gartner study, each four-drawer file cabinet holds an average of 10-12,000 documents, takes up 9 square feet of floor space and each one costs $1,500 per year. Also the upkeep of printers and faxing machines come into play as well. All of these expenses and time not only hurts the growth of your business, but also puts you at risk of losing important documents.

Lost Documents

Think of how many times your business had misplaced a document, or how many times you couldn’t find a document and had to replace it. According to a Gartner study, approximately 25 hours to recreate each lost document. This is time that could be used toward other, more important business efforts. With 90% of a business’s information stored in documents, you don’t want to put all your trust into a filing system that isn’t very efficient or reliable. What if there was a flood or fire? According to a Gartner study, more than 70% of today’s businesses would fail within three weeks if they suffered a catastrophic loss of paper-based records due to fire or flood. You may be thinking to yourself, “Well that won’t happen to my business!” Unfortunately, that’s a risky way of thinking. You want to be proactive and make sure that if something like that were to happen, your documents are secure, safe, and easily accessible.

Retrieval Time 

One main issue we see with our customers is the retrieval time of paper documents. On average it takes around 10 minutes per paper document to retrieve, copy and re-file.  When working with paper documents, no matter how organized your filing system is, you will run into the problem of not being able to retrieve documents in a timely manner. Say you need to find an invoice for a certain client and it’s not in its normal filing cabinet? You have already spent time looking for it and now you will have to track down this document which increases your retrieval time and can upset your clients.

Security & Audits

Your business may keep certain paper documents due to legal reasons and/or for possible audits. According to an AIIM research, 62% of businesses are strongly reliant on their file-shares. These types of documents are extremely important and by storing them in a filing cabinet or an off-site facility, you are making it more difficult for your business to retrieve them in case of emergency. For example, imagine your business is going through an audit and production must halt until the audit is completed. If you and your co-workers are spending hours going through each filing cabinet to find the exact documents the auditor needs, you are keeping your business from moving forward with production, thereby exponentially losing money.

Overall Efficiency  

Each business is different when it comes to their document lifecycle. You may have processes set in place for when a document is created it moves from one department to the next. However, with paper documents you would need to either hand it in person, fax it over to the correct department, or scan and email it over with the other department reprinting it. Especially with many people working from home nowadays, these processes may not be the most efficient way of moving your documents around.

As a business you want your processes to be streamlined and customized to your business needs. By keeping  paper documents, you are holding back your businesses efficiency and could potentially hurt your business in the long run. The International Data Corporation found that a business with 1,000 employees wastes $2.5 million to $3.5 million a year chasing documents. You may not see the problem within your business right now, but over time if you keep storing paper documents your business will run into at least one of these issues if you are not proactive.

What Can Be Done?

So what exactly can be done to minimize your paper documents? The best path to go down is to start your journey to become paperless with a document management system (DMS) or Enterprise Content Management system (ECM). With a DMS or ECM, you are able to:

  • Build a secure and trusted repository of accessible documents
  • Drastically reduce the cost of off-site paper document storage and per-page retrieval costs with document scanning
  • Address both internal and external auditor’s requests in a timely manner
  • Prevent fire, flood, or theft from putting your company out of business
  • Track and get approval on work as it traverses departments
  • And more!

Over time you will be able to see the ROI on implementing a document management system through reduced labor and physical storage costs. Your business will become more efficient, save money, and reduce the risk of losing documents.

With Optix, we will help you start your process of becoming paperless with a document management system. Our document scanning, document management, workflow automations, and more will help your business grow without the hassle of storing paper documents. Still have questions?

K.J. McCorry is CEO of Officiency a business consulting firm based out of Boulder, CO.

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Why data and the pandemic are ripping up paper processes.


Marc Ambasna-Jones

The recovery will be digital, says a recent McKinsey report focusing on how businesses can grow at speed and scale against the backdrop of Covid-19 pandemic-suppressed economies. Nothing unusual there. We’ve all seen the rapid adoption of digital technologies to enable remote and socially distanced workers, but few would have put the paperless office high on the agenda for change.

“Many organisations will need to rapidly reinvent processes that previously required physical documents, to become paperless,” says the report. “Enabling the submission of scanned copies for document verification and supporting contactless servicing capabilities (for example, by creating digital forms to replace physical forms and enabling electronic signature capture) will likely be key priorities.”

This is not the first time paper processes have become a poster child for digital progress, but unlike in previous years, there is now an element of necessity. This is not so much about reducing paper consumption, but more about improving overall document management in an increasingly touchless society. For years, technologies have been capable of reducing paper consumption only to see paper consumption increase.

The key here is the proliferation of data and the management of that data. Paper is increasingly cumbersome within new information processes and organisations are slowly realising the operational value of digitised document management.

According to the Association for Intelligent Information Management (AIIM)’s State of the intelligent information management industry 2021 report, on average, organisations expect the volume of information coming into them to grow from X to 4.5X over the next two years. They expect more than 57% of this information to be unstructured (a contract or a conversation, for example) or semi-structured (such as an invoice or a form).

The problem is that not many businesses are geared up to manage this volume of information, something that Covid-19 exposed as organisations scrambled to manage remote working. While the importance of effective information management may have been recognised in boardrooms, the reality, according to AIIM, is that still too many organisations lack the tools and knowhow.

“Organisations are losing the battle against information chaos and need to rethink outdated manual approaches to information management,” says the report. “Overall, respondents in the AIIM survey give their organisations a grade of C minus (1.64 on a four-point grading scale) in the battle against information chaos.”

This is actually slightly lower than the grade assigned to business/information management alignment. Almost half of participants (46%) graded their efforts at battling information chaos as “needs improvement” or “poor.”

Almost certainly, problems exist because of a lack of insight into the impact of paper-based processes. Knowing how paper is affecting the organisation from a cost and information management perspective is half the battle. Whether it’s monitoring printer use or understanding workflow processes better, organisations need more joined-up thinking.

Print management

For healthcare technology, data and analytics business IQVIA, this need for oversight, especially as a result of remote working during the pandemic, drove its decision to deploy a print management system. The company wanted to see who was printing and why, and where it could use its printing resources more effectively.

The company teamed up with Intuitive to use PaperCut, a business intelligence tool that provides print and process management capabilities via a set of dashboards. Reporting is automated and spreadsheet-free, enabling visibility not just of printer use, but also costs by user or department.

“Due to Covid and the closure of some of our offices, printing is still happening but remotely at home and the consumables are costly,” says Mario Massa, principal technology architect at IQVIA. “We have print volume from over 70,000 employees. The data from PaperCut and the Intuitive dashboard allows us to see all the costs quickly and easily. We have also found that if we hold a candle up to the figures, experience shows that this visibility has an effect on user behaviour.”

Massa says this visibility will enable the business “to change our current process from paper to more digital”, recognising both the potential for greater workflow efficiencies but also reduced costs. IQVIA, Massa believes, will be able to make decisions more effectively on how it uses paper in future thanks to visibility of current paper use. Of course it makes sense, but not all organisations are approaching paper processes from the same perspective.

For North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust, for example, digitising paper is not just a cost issue, it’s an information retrieval issue. For any healthcare organisation, accessing new and legacy medical records has historically been a challenge.

According to Deborah Dearden, assistant general manager of health records and outpatient administration, keeping up with an ever-growing paper records library used to be tough. The trust’s staff could spend several days hunting for a specific file or chasing down departments. There was a risk that records could get mislaid or lost, resulting in a patient’s appointment or operation having to be cancelled.

Of course, digitising large volumes of records is not easy either. As well as the actual scanning of documents, there are also requirements for secure and compliant digital storage. North West Anglia turned to Iron Mountain to help create a digitisation process with off-site storage that would help deliver patient records quickly and securely wherever and whenever they were required.

The paper-scanning process

According to Dearden, documents are scanned and returned as digital images usually within 24 hours, while legacy patient files are scanned on-demand. The service is delivered by a dedicated Iron Mountain team, backed by weekly update calls and monthly meetings to review service levels.

“When a patient visits hospital, we create an event pack, which moves between various specialists and departments,” says Dearden. “We are also required to retain legacy medical files and corporate material, such as financial and pharmacy-related documents. We needed a supplier that understands our processes and what is involved in managing case notes. Previously, one in every 10 images was lost due to software error. We had no option but to go back to manually retrieving paper files, putting massive pressure on already-overstretched resources.”

It was a similar story at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, another Iron Mountain customer, where paper medical records had become complex to manage and store. The back scanning project involved about 40,000 patient records, which were all digitised at the Iron Mountain specialist facility at Stone, Staffordshire.

Other traditionally paper-intensive industries, such as the legal profession and government, have had to rapidly adapt. One example is the Council of Europe, a Strasbourg-based body, founded in the wake of the Second World War, which promotes human rights, democracy and the rule of law. It regularly produces documents (reports, studies, recommendations or judgments) that are collaboratively produced. These documents are highly sensitive, containing vital information on human rights topics and need to be accessed remotely from offices in more than 23 countries and by over 6,000 external users.

With nine repositories, various field offices, and files being saved on local servers, the organisation was encountering a lack of version control, which meant it was difficult for staff to search for and determine where the final version of a document was located. Also, having several disparate documentation systems made it extremely difficult for its infrastructure and security teams to guarantee a full and comprehensive data backup.

The Council of Europe teamed up with NetDocuments to deliver a cloud-based document management system (DMS).

“It was our aim to store all working documents in a single, shareable DMS that can be directly managed in terms of security, access and folder structure by the different departments within the organisation,” says John Hunter, CIO of the Council of Europe. “Having a central DMS to store documents means that we will be able adopt common working methods and best practice.”

The shift towards digital processes has been welcomed, especially during the pandemic. The Council of Europe had already taken the positive step of enabling remote collaboration, with at least 40% of its staff working remotely in different locations across its member states. A secure, mobile-ready platform, with a central DMS to store documents, has transformed workflows and operations, with NetDocuments ensuring the proper safeguards for the organisation’s data, guaranteeing that documents are protected and secure, from wherever staff are working.

Given the pandemic and working from home, many organisations will recognise these challenges and needs. As the AIIM research found, the two most important information challenges remain “digitising, automating and integrating processes” (25% say this is the top challenge), which is followed closely by “managing information throughout its lifecycle” (24%).

With the rapid growth in data – every day, 200 exabytes of data is generated worldwide and enterprises account for about 42.2% of that number – organisations will need to digitise processes or face the prospect of ever-increasing complexity. Paper, for all its culturally aesthetic qualities, is surely reaching the end of its corporate life.


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