Capture in the mailroom was a concept originally developed in Europe to understand scanned contents of an envelope, to classify and route incoming mail to whomever it is addressed to. In the US the application expanded into integration with BPM. The digital transformation that companies now are undergoing has resulted in companies starting to expand this technology in order to understand electronically generated information at the time of impact. This can result in major benefits across the whole corporation.
Incoming transactional information comes in many forms with the greatest growth coming from electronic media, much of which is email. But faxes still enter corporations and mobile created communications increasingly use multi-media. So mailroom systems expanded into understanding and routing emailed images – mostly PDF’s and faxes, which are effectively 200 dpi TIF images that are scanned remotely.
The terminology Mailroom Automation never gained much traction in the US perhaps because of the extensive use of PO Boxes to presort physical mail, but the basic process has been implemented in conjunction with high-speed scanners in many companies.
Now with increasing amounts of incoming information delivered electronically, agile organizations have realized that they can leverage their existing business rules in conjunction with relevant business processes. These organizations are implementing new capture technologies in order to extract image data from multiple sources and route that information.
We are now seeing the advent of the utilization of SaaS platforms by leading capture vendors. These SaaS platforms can lower the cost of integrating new data elements and allow corporate IT departments to experiment with new inputs, data types and usage into analytics. One example of this is Dell EMC who has developed a product named LEAP Snap as a SaaS platform. Using this software, organizations can effectively test new processes, BPM integrations and services without having to set up a complete “mailroom type environment”, which is expensive and time consuming. The system becomes more modular.
One big advantage is that organizations can expand the data types through implementing advanced recognition of new elements such as incoming statements for reconciliation, as the vendor expands availability and functionality, without having to license a full solution. As these services improve and widen their character sets and language support, they will be immediately available compared with needing to wait for ‘the next release’.
The user can more tightly integrate with other external cloud services such as Salesforce, language translation, voice to text conversion or mapping to be able to handle more inputs, enhance the data and further reduce manual effort.
As classification improves with new technology such as semantic understanding, organizations can incorporate this and see how they can reduce the cost of manual classification of complex data sets, such as mortgage applications. Using semantic understanding they can integrate with Customer Communications Management (CCM) such as EMC’s Document Sciences or Engagement Management systems (CEM) improving customer relations services at lower cost.
Auto-classification and auto-extraction of data becomes an automated process at the time of impact, regardless of source, type of input or usage. In fact an input such as new collateral information for a loan or new information for an insurance claim may change the workflow dynamically, requiring a request for new inputs handled effectively in real time.
But we need to think of Mailroom Capture services being available for use on a broader basis — not just for incoming information. Rarely can we not learn from history, and historical information that is archived within the company, may hold clues to trends and direction. Using SaaS mailroom services, a company can scan, classify and extract analytics information from a broad variety of documents. Many of these have already been scanned for archival and records management reasons – but SaaS services such as the Snap product or others can be used to go through these scanned files extracting a wider variety of information, for example medical information from patient back-files.
New user departments can start to leverage these mailroom Capture services to understand and drive their processes faster. One example is automated invoice processing, which in conjunction with Procure-to- Pay solutions and AR with Order-to-Cash, can improve a company’s cash management. Capture technology can help with automated reconciliation of bank accounts which improves closing times. This all starts to affect investors. So interestingly, Investor Services can use Mailroom services to better handle inquiries as well as monitor sentiment in the blogosphere.
Better analytics from a broader set of information and assistance in better management of cash. This technology provides important input for Boardroom discussions with better and more timely decision making.
Capture Analyst company HSA has been documenting best practices where companies are using proven capture / ECM platforms improve their time to market and likelihood of success.