Guest Column | May 15, 2017

Don't Forget Data Trapped In Documents And PDF Files

Managing eCOA Data: Principles & Best Practices For Data Managers

By Jeff Segarra, Senior Director of Product Marketing, Nuance Document Imaging Division

Most organizations are probably familiar with the concept of Big Data and how it can help them make better business decisions. Yet until now, many have overlooked an extremely valuable source of data that can be used in the same way: paper documents and PDF files.

The concept of Big Data is now an important tool for many companies. For anyone still unaware, Big Data describes the effort of collecting and analyzing huge volumes of new types of data. Examples include traditional structured data you would expect to find in a database, such as customer information or even machine-generated log files. Another example is new types of unstructured data that can include content from social media sites, pictures and video files, website data, and more.

Once mined and extracted, these extremely large sets of data can be analyzed by sophisticated Big Data applications to reveal patterns, trends, and other insights that help to make better business decisions and improve strategic initiatives.

Documents’ Role In Big Data

At this point, it’s probably safe to say most companies understand the business potential behind Big Data and either have a strategy in place or have at least started to evaluate various tools and technologies capitalize on all Big Data has to offer. As these organizations continue to look for new sources of meaningful data, an increasing number are now realizing their documents — paper and PDF versions — may contain extremely valuable information.

For example, consider an insurance company that may be sitting on reams of paper documents related to its customers. These documents are full of important information including clients’ policies, earnings and other financial details, health records, job histories, family records, and much more. With the right tools this information could be analyzed to anticipate insurance events, better attract and retain customers, reduce risk, and even devise strategies to minimize malpractice suits or other ways to prevent fraud.

Sure, all of this sounds great, but many companies still struggle with how to effectively extract information locked in paper documents. Worse, many even overlook one of the most effective ways: document imaging solutions.

Document Management And Workflow Solutions

The good news is there are a number of document capture and workflow, optical character recognition (OCR), PDF, and mobile document imaging solutions that can extract vital information and integrate with business processes and tools, such as Big Data applications. We will take a closer look at how each of these work and can provide a Big Data advantage.

  • Document capture and workflow. Think of this as the starting point. Document capture solutions can help transform documents into digital assets and efficiently integrate them into business processes and applications. For example, powerful document software capture technologies can manage the entire process of capturing and securely delivering paper documents into enterprise business systems.
  • Optical character recognition (OCR). Effective OCR tools can quickly and easily convert paper documents, PDF files, and forms into documents that can then be automatically archived or integrated in a Big Data application. Plus, because these tools are highly accurate, all data is effectively extracted and advanced features such as automatic document routing make sure documents wind up in the right place.
  • PDF. PDF software tools can easily convert PDFs into Word documents or just about any other format. More, PDF also enables users to export information contained in filled-in forms, so they can search and analyze data in PDF files.
  • Mobile. Mobile capture and print solutions help employees capture and submit documents and images and easily integrate them into a company’s existing workflow management systems. For example, these applications transform employees’ mobile devices into business-critical tools, capable of collecting huge amounts of data and delivering it into core business processes.

If you’re looking to do more with Big Data and take the next step by extracting valuable information currently residing in documents, discover how the right document management solutions can help.