Do You Know Where Your Data Comes From?

In a world where adults spend an average of 11 hours a day looking at screens and millions of employees work remotely, it seems like the days of businesses needing faxes, paper, and manual data entry are officially behind us.

But are they really?

It’s likely your company utilizes data in a variety of ways. It could be a part of your core business — like insurance companies sifting through information around new life insurance applicants or medical or property-related claims, or mortgage companies moving through stacks of applications and supplemental materials. Or maybe you focus on utilizing data to drive business decisions like sales and marketing CRMs and pipeline analysis.

But do you know how you’re getting your data?

Machine Ready Data Is Hard to Come By

Even with all our technological advancements, it’s likely that your data either was originally on paper or had to be manually entered or manipulated to get it into a standard digital format. How 1990s, right?

Wrong.

Let’s talk statistics. According to CMS Wire:

  • US companies spend more than $120 billion a year on printed forms, most of which outdate themselves within three months’ time (source: Integrify.com).
  • The estimated global annual invoice volume is 550 billion, and about two thirds of this volume is still in unstructured formats like paper and PDF (source: Billentis.com).
  • Over 17 million fax machines are still in use in the U.S., with global numbers in excess of 46 million fax machines (source: HTPoint.com).
  • There are 116 million Americans over the age of 50, and 20% of them do not use the internet.”

Data comes to your company in a variety of diverse formats and nearly $60 billion is spent every year on data entry – the process of indexing a document, routing it to the correct location, and extracting the data for use by another system.

Whether you’re looking at mailed forms, a scanned image, or even data scraped by bots from various websites, all of it together becomes difficult to manage and turn into a universal machine-usable format without extensive human intervention.

A study published by Harvard Business Review found that most managers don’t realize how many errors are in their data. They found that on average, nearly half (47%) of newly created data records have at least one critical (e.g., work-impacting) error. Only 3% of the data analyzed in the study reached the “acceptable” range.

The study found: “In today’s business world, work and data are inextricably tied to one another. No manager can claim that his area is functioning properly in the face of data quality issues. It is hard to see how businesses can survive, never mind thrive, under such conditions.”

If accurate data is so critical, why is your company still relying on manual data entry? Even if your company doesn’t deal with paper, working with electronically-generated documents can still provide a host of problems.

For example, let’s look at the invoice statistic from above. Today there are hundreds of software companies that make it easy to create and send invoices. These invoices are generated and sent via machines, which should make it easy for software to pull out all the relevant information to allow your company to perform additional analysis. But unfortunately, they don’t.

Solutions Are Available

There are as many different formats as there are companies offering invoice tools, and there is no standard for what types of data are collected and when. The result is humans are still required to bring all the disparate data into comprehensible and usable data.

This is a massive problem for your business and, more specifically, your operations leaders.

“As businesses face increased pressure to lower operating costs, many [infrastructure and operations] leaders have been siloed into a tactical role rather than a strategic one — essentially, becoming custodians of legacy infrastructure,” said Katherine Lord, research vice president at Gartner.

“The result is stunted I&O maturity over the past decade. I&O leaders who harness the power of disruptive technologies, such as cloud and artificial intelligence (AI), will discover new opportunities to serve as business innovators.”

It could be easy to assume that the world will change enough that your manual data entry processes will eventually evolve and no longer be necessary — an inevitable consequence of modernity. But paper forms aren’t going away any time soon, and in absence of a global standard for documents like invoices, even machine-generated documents aren’t going to be inherently machine-readable.

The good news is that there is no need to deal with inaccurate and disparate data. The tools are available to utilize artificial intelligence and machine learning to resolve your data problems; to streamline and automate that critical “first mile” of data processing so that organizations can unlock timely, quality data at scale.

Interested in learning more? Contact us today to learn how Hyperscience automates document processing and data entry without sacrificing accuracy.

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