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by Steve Todd | January 12, 2010


In this post I’d like to address a technology known as information capture. Wikipedia defines information capture as
“[T]he process of collecting paper documents, forms and e-documents, transforming them into accurate, retrievable, digital information, and delivering the information into business applications and databases for immediate action. “

Information capture technology is primarily aimed towards medium-to-large size businesses that employ hundreds or thousands of employees (although it is also applicable for smaller businesses as well).

(This follows on from my last post, which introduced the importance of understanding the enormous variety of information technologies being developed by high-tech companies. Understanding as many of them as possible can only benefit your career.

That post also introduced a simple diagram which emphasizes, at a very high level, that one of the core technologies within the high-tech information industry is the persistent storage of the digital bits that are being generated by applications.)

Which brings us back to information capture: The diagram below highlights a subset of inputs and content types that can bombard a corporation with incoming information. Some of this information is digital, and some of it is in other forms (e.g. paper).

content types; information capture


What is the value of information capture technology? It allows a business to realize the following advantages:

  • Helps reduce (or completely eliminate) error-prone manual data entry
  • Saves time by enabling fast retrieval of ALL content electronically.
  • Scales a growing business from hundreds of documents per day to thousands.
  • Centralizes the information captured at distributed offices.
  • Allows for the immediate categorization of incoming content.
  • Reduces the risk of failing government audits (by making it easier to quickly find requests for categorized content).

In order to truly recognize the value of information capture technology, consider the long list of document types that typical businesses struggle to ingest (by the thousands):

  • New account applications
  • Invoices
  • Purchase orders
  • Human resource records
  • Patient records
  • Legal documents
  • Mortgage and loan documents
  • Insurance claims
  • Tax forms
  • Permits
  • Prescription orders
  • Shipping/receiving documents
  • Etc.

Corporations that cannot effectively ingest, organize, and persistently store their documents are at risk. At best they risk functioning inefficiently; at worst they risk breaking the law by being unprepared for governmental audits.

Study up on information capture technology. For starters, my own company (EMC) provides a robust information capture technology known as Captiva.

Twitter: @SteveTodd
EMC Intrapreneur


Filed Under: Technology

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