Using MDS to tackle the big data conundrum

There is little doubt that the lifeblood of any organisation today is data, as reliable, structured data can easily provide a business with a strong competitive edge. The trouble is that the vast majority of data today is unstructured, which makes the business of capturing, managing and providing access to this data increasingly difficult.

In fact, according to an article published by SINTEF, the largest independent research organisation in Scandinavia, a full 90% of all the data in the world today has been generated in the last two years. The current estimation is that 2.5 quintillion bytes (2.3 trillion gigabytes) of data is created every day.

What this ultimately means is that the manner in which companies manage their data – particularly the unstructured type – will become a huge determining factor in their ability to operate effectively. After all, data volumes are only going to continue to increase at an exponential rate.

Examples of the type of unstructured data that exists in enterprises include every conceivable business document, from invoices and orders to remittances and contracts. These documents are inevitably paper-based, meaning that to even begin to improve access to this corporate information, it needs to be transferred into an electronic format. While such transfers are usually conducted manually, a business that wants to retain a competitive edge needs to find a better way of doing things. Nashua's Managed Document Services (MDS) are capable of serving as the bridge between hard copy and the digital space.

MDS enable companies to optimise the way their data is managed, stored and accessed, making it a crucial business tool for addressing the problem of big data. The larger the business, the more documents it has that need to be processed, with the information ultimately required to be input into the company's customer relationship management (CRM) or enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.

Using people to convert paper-based information into an electronic format is not only expensive and inefficient, it is also prone to error. It also presents a huge security risk to the companies that still use these systems because vital information can easily be destroyed, misplaced or stolen.

Perhaps more critically, successful enterprises rely on rapid access to information to stay ahead of the game, and manually inputting the data is incredibly time-consuming. Adopting an MDS solution eliminates the inefficiencies, errors and security risks inherent in utilising a manual system. More crucially, it actually improves productivity by allowing the organisation to redeploy employees who would otherwise have been involved in processing the information into other areas of the business instead.

Moreover, a good MDS will not have to replace existing systems, as it should instead leverage off the systems that businesses already have in place, providing a layer in between these legacy systems that creates structure and ensures a company's document workflow operates as efficiently as possible.

And when one considers the rapidly changing legislation around maintaining information as well as the increasing proliferation of big data, a massive advantage that a good MDS offers is that it makes data auditable at every point of the document life cycle. It further allows users to put certain restrictions on documents that restrict other users from accessing or editing those documents to ensure none of the data in those documents is changed or compromised at any point.

This functionality is one that becomes increasingly important as more and more companies start mobilising their work forces and larger numbers of employees begin using their own devices to work remotely.

At the end of day, MDS can provide an enterprise with an automated process that ensures the required information is listed, validated and integrated into the relevant back-end system, in a way that speeds up the process, drastically reducing errors while increasing efficiencies and productivity.

When one considers the potential insights into customer behaviour, demographics, market trends and overall business intelligence that can be unlocked by structuring big data, the increased ability to rapidly access and utilise the information delivered by MDS could create a huge competitive advantage for the enterprise that chooses to implement such a solution.

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