We have officially entered the era of small devices and Big Data. This should be a positive thing; however it’s creating havoc among corporations ill-prepared for managing and storing large volumes of structured and unstructured data.
The Big Data challenge seems to have snuck up on many organisations, who have suddenly realised that storing huge amounts of data in various repositories throughout their organisation is increasing costs and negatively affecting performance and efficiency.
According to a recent AIIM focus article, the problem with Big Data is that its volume is too much for normal data sifting technologies or methods to handle. Conventional data processing struggles to accurately or quickly manage Big Data, and therefore lacks efficiency. People, process, and technology in a joint information governance effort are necessary to refine raw organisational content into something useable for enterprise businesses.
For most companies, the process of storing documents for future reference is quickly becoming overly complicated. So, what is the solution? In that same focus article, AIIM concludes that PDF/A assists in improving search-ability and share-ability of data, ensuring smooth-running workflows. For example, ActivePDF WebGrabber offers the capabilities to consolidate and store HTML content to PDF for easy distribution, records retention, and retrieval and reporting, assisting in the workflow process.
PDF/A is an ISO-standardised version of the Portable Document Format specialised for use in the archiving and long-term preservation of electronic documents. PDF/A differs from PDF by prohibiting features ill-suited to long-term archiving, such as font linking and encryption. The ISO requirements for PDF/A file viewers include colour management guidelines, support for embedded fonts, and a user interface for reading embedded annotations.
A solid workflow-based solution can adapt to the needs of just about any business. As seen with ActivePDF DocConverter, PDF tools can ease the burden of archiving, storage and retrieval of Big Data.
Addressing these issues requires a solid workflow-based solution that can adapt to the needs of businesses:
- Information governance: Workflow solutions that enhance your company’s reporting processes and standardise the flow of information will mitigate risk and protect you from noncompliance penalties. You need a way to archive your information in a digital envelope that helps you properly preserve the information you need to stay compliant for the long term.
- Security: You can greatly reduce the potential of hackers causing breach and cyber theft by using features such as firewalls.
Content curation and integration make storing and searching for documents easier:
- Content integration: A better workflow architecture centred on the PDF file format can also give you access to more advanced content integration capabilities. Rather than falling behind on your archive’s rapid growth and losing track of information, you can tag and organize data based on key characteristics such as department, legal requirements and other business necessities. The result is stronger storage and search capabilities that simplify the categorization of each file that enters the archive.
- Content curation: The ability to adjust workflows also helps when separating documents that require long-term preservation from those that are only needed temporarily. This level of organisation unshackles businesses from the save-everything-forever mentality.
- High-volume conversion: With so much information to archive, the ability to scale the storage methods is crucial, which is why PDF automation is extremely useful in converting documents at high volumes. More importantly, the automation process eliminates many steps for manual entry. This reduces the potential for human error, which helps maintain the overall integrity of the data being sorted and stored.
- Browser-based viewing: Creating a platform agnostic system that allows employees to search for documents from any device via Web browser without any requirement or local application to view.
ActivePDF Server is another PDF tool that helps businesses achieve the above solutions and enhance archiving workflows. ActivePDF tools such as Server and WebGrabber offer businesses an alternative to manually managing archival workflows, but also help save time and money by offering a fully digital system. Using a technological solution for archiving means using an automated workflow system on top of the flexibility and utility of PDF tools. All of these features can contribute to a document archive that is accessible and flexible.
A recent article by CMSWire notes that just because a workflow has a basis in software doesn’t mean it’s fully digital. This is especially the case when businesses are working with multiple software programs just to complete the process of archiving. A good way to understand the importance of automated workflows is to find out what areas are pain points, i.e. where data or commands are manually entered.
Are files given names automatically, or does someone name them?
- A good starting point is finding out what happens when a paper document is scanned. Is it given a name, or does somebody have to enter a filename for it? If a file must be saved and/or converted into the PDF file format through someone’s intervention, or if a file needs to be emailed to another person for the file to be confirmed that it’s in the right settings and format. This bottleneck can be avoided by implementing automation processes.
- There are further identifying areas at a granular level, such as when someone is manually uploading documents and where they’re sending them, or if specific tags or compliance configurations need to be added, such as PDF-X (to facilitate graphics exchange) or PDF/A (when archiving and preserving electronic documents). All of these processes can be automated in some way with the right tools.
Automation for business
- Automation doesn’t eliminate humans completely from the archiving process, and it shouldn’t. People should still be looking at the files to determine if what was scanned is readable, searchable and can be opened. Even with a file format as flexible as PDF, mistakes can still happen during the scanning or organisation process (see the next bullet point).
- The IT firm Nexxtep, points out what automation can do. Any repetitive process that previously required manual entry can be done automatically. For example, if scanning a series of tax documents from the given tax year, create a template for identifying each document, and it will be sorted and combined into the appropriate files without having to key in specific details
Archiving and storing Big Data isn’t as daunting as it seems. The implementation of PDF tools from ActivePDF substantially reduces the amount of time spent on archiving critical files, saves money and increases security. By eliminating pain points through a combination of automated workflows and the powerful PDF file format, big businesses are becoming more creative in a truly digital archive process.