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There exists a notion today that the world is well on its way to becoming paperless. But that is more wishful thinking than reality. It is true that some paper use, such as printing magazines, is on the wane. But in the corporate world, the use of computer paper in offices is actually growing worldwide. Companies – law firms, in particular – continue to create, consume and manage vast amounts of physical paper. Yet, very little is done to protect them.
Digital data is an entirely different story. Companies go to great lengths to safeguard data, employing primary storage systems, backup systems, and secondary sites with backups for disaster recovery. By taking such precautions, companies can rest assured that if anything unexpected happens, such as a natural disaster, their data can be recovered quickly, with little impact on their business.
So why are the same precautions not taken with paper? There are many reasons. Paper is difficult and slow to process in large volumes. It requires a lot of physical space to store. It degrades over time. It is vulnerable to being misplaced or damaged, and presents a whole host of security issues. Simply put, there is little room for more paper in today’s business world.
Still, companies must deal with their paper records and develop some sort of recovery plan for them. For most companies, that typically involves prioritizing some paper over others and storing them in climate-controlled rooms, usually across multiple locations. Sometimes, retroactive measures are employed, such as attempting to dry already compromised paper records. But these methods are unreliable, outdated, and costly. Rather than spending valuable time and effort determining which records they can afford to protect, or how to save them after the fact, companies should be aiming to protect all their records.
In truth, very little can be done to mitigate the risks of keeping records in paper form. Contingency plans are important in preparing how to proceed when an extreme weather event is on the way, but natural disasters often strike before records can be moved or protected. The threat of natural disasters demands that companies address the discrepancy between standard IT practices and the manner in which paper records are handled.
Digitization and Cloud: The Road to Recovery
The most important thing any company can do to secure their paper records is to digitize them and store them in the cloud. These are the first steps toward secure document management. That many companies put off digitizing their records, or avoiding it all together, is understandable. The vast amount of paper records they hold can take a very long time and cost a lot of money to manually scan, index, categorize and classify.
Fortunately, technologies exist that can manage the logistical headache of record digitization. Using robotics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence, this process can be greatly accelerated.
Once records are digitized and stored in the cloud, a disaster recovery plan is in place, as records are no longer reliant on the physical storage location in which they were housed.
Additionally, records are rendered easily searchable, shareable, and trackable. With digital records management, companies can protect and secure their information and never worry about a large-scale loss of important documents from a natural disaster or other catastrophic event. Digitization plus cloud-based technology is simply the best way to ensure their safety in the face of unpredictable events.
Addressing Security Concerns
The other major concerns large organizations have in regard to records management, beyond protecting against natural disasters, are data privacy and cybersecurity. Global cybercrime is projected to become a $6 trillion dollar industry by 2021, and the average enterprise cyberattack cost $1.3 million in 2017.
The more data an organization processes on a daily basis, the bigger a target it becomes. This is the primary reason organizations choose to move away from paper and towards digital transformation and secure document management.
Keeping track of records in an organized, effective way is hard enough when large numbers of employees have access. Manually verifying the authorization, access privileges, and responsibilities of every employee is not feasible without an automated solution for digital transformation. Digital records should be encrypted both in transit and at rest. Sensitive records can be individually password-protected, and access can be restricted to your corporate network, by role and user. Additionally, automating the compliance-check process by running a remote-system check against predefined compliance requirements to make sure everything matches up is key.
Without an army of security technicians available to manually verify every event log and compliance requirements, the need for automated digital transformation and record management is clear.