Unlocking the hidden value of archives

What is archiving?

Archiving is a process where inactive data, in any format, is securely stored and preserved for long period of time. Such information may – or may not be used in the future, but nonetheless should be stored for as long as possible.

It should be emphasized that archived, inactive data can be made active again, as the proposition of not being able to access stored information after a certain period of time sometimes dissuades organizations from archiving their records. However, archived data can be stored in a number of ways and on a variety of devices.

What is an Archive?

An archive is an accumulation of unique records or the physical places they are located. Individuals and institutions warrant permanent preservation because of the value to their legal, administrative or fiscal purposes or to researchers because of their potential research value.

The majority of archived material is paper-based but archives also include:

  • Parchments
  • Photographs
  • Maps, plans and drawings
  • Audio and visual material
  • Electronic formats

Why are archives important?

Archives are the raw material of history; they are primary sources that provide evidence of activities and information about individuals and community, thereby increasing our sense of orientation.

They ensure justice, as records aren’t generally created for future historical research and often provide a less biased account of events.

They are:

  • Invaluable tools for historians
  • A sign of transparency

There are multiple reasons how archives benefits our lives and the growing organizations

1. Prevents data loss

Information can be lost forever if it isn’t archived on a secure repository. With archived material, the risk of accidentally deleting, misplacing a file is covered. Archived data allows individuals to retrieve backup information independently without having to rely on the expertise of third parties.

2. Increases security

Many organizations accidentally dispose of documents that they legally should be keeping. Archives play as the main backup especially at a time when cyber attacks and data breaches are becoming more common-place.

3. Protection of records

Archives not only protect the object but also protect the interrelatedness, impartiality, authenticity and uniqueness of the object/document.

Archives today

In the 21st century an overwhelming majority of newly created information is digital. The digital compilation of collecting institutions such as archives, libraries and repositories consist of either digitized or ‘born digital’ content.

The existing belief that digital objects can be managed using the same techniques and methodologies that were developed and used over years for physical objects is misconstrued. With digitization, objects are easier to copy, transfer and package.

Our personal documents and files are important to us as they record the details of our lives and define us. But increasingly, our possessions are no longer material: they’re digital. Digital files are encoded to represent text, images, audio, video and more. We can preserve our digital possessions and keep them safe and accessible for years to come, but we have to archive them and actively manage them.

Physical vs. Digital archiving

What are physical archives?

Physical archiving is a traditional method and usually refers to the process of archiving paper documents. Archiving important information like records, legal documents, customer files or conference paper in paper may not be a good idea. Multiple factors like moisture, mishandling or passage of time can all end up ruining important data.

There isn’t any guarantee that physical archives can even survive for a short time period. Although microforms were invented in the eighties, and are more durable than paper; they can be easily damaged because of their small size and further require bulky equipment to view the information

What is digital archiving?

With the invention of scanner, digital archiving came into being. Scanners are used to capture a digital image of a document that can be easily preserved and stored on a hard drive or a server. The biggest advantage of digital archiving is that your data cannot be tampered with. By opting for digital preservation, one can eliminate the need of bulky physical storage space as only virtual space is used in the process.

Mobile friendly apps such as CamScanner, Scanner Pro or Adobe scan have made digital archiving much easier in recent times. A scanned document can be saved in various formats, such as PDF, JPEG, TIFF or BMP. In addition to this, PDFs can be compressed to a very small size and made text searchable, which makes it easier to retrieve any information at any given time. Hence, organizations will never need to worry about finding any archived information.

Great reasons to go digital with your data

If document archiving is not one of your core competencies, you need not worry. Outsourcing document archiving to a service provider is simpler than ever. Outsourcing is not only cost-effective, but can also efficiently save your time and effort, which can be invested in your core business venture.

Here are the best benefits of outsourcing document archiving:

  • Get cost-effective, time saving and accurate document archiving services
  • Save on making investments in digital archiving technology or infrastructure
  • Focus on your core business venture, by outsourcing document archiving to experts
  • Get your archived information in any format of your choice- JPEG, TIFF, PDF or BMP

Conclusion

Notions of authenticity, originals and origins remain significant in the proficient practices of many communities. Archiving practices have evolved to ensure evidential value of records, however a clear understanding of the value and storage options will ensure that archives continue to convey context and communicate its importance to an ever-expanding audience for archived materials.

Archives are vital as much from the past as for our future.

Do you or your organization use any kind of preservation technology to preserve your archive collection? Do let us know.

What Disruption Really Means For Business

“Disruption”! If only I had a nickel for every time I heard that phrase, well, let’s just say, “I would be writing this while flying to my own island in my own private jet! So, does this mean the phrase “disruption” has become overrated and it’s time we retire the buzzword? Our take is that instead of retiring the buzzword completely, we just need to kill the negative connotation that most start-ups seem to associate with the word ‘disruption’. Disruption doesn’t have to be a word for threat to established business models. Instead, it can be a method of looking inwards and focusing on creating values for the customers rather than trying to be one up on the competitors.

Constant and constructive disruption is positive and keeps the organization on their toes as they look forward to staying at par with start-ups coming in with new zeal and fresh ideas for doing businesses.

What is Disruption?

So, what exactly is disruption and how is it affecting the way marketplaces and businesses are evolving? Disruption in simple terms can be described as a wave of change in the way things are being done since ages. In the late 1990s, the Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen defined the concept of “disruptive innovation”, a principle whereby entrenched, dominant product or service providers could be unseated in the market (have their leadership position disrupted) by smaller rivals who offered solutions more simply or at less cost.

To put it in business terms, disruption is the change in way companies design, deliver, and serve products and services to the consumers. In today’s world where companies operate in a complex business environment, which is diverse, dynamic, and integrated, like never before, vulnerability to change is obvious, especially for the ones who have failed to incorporate change. Hence, we can say that the success mantra towards building a sustainable organization lies in its ability to adapt and not only accept the new order but blast open new opportunities from it.

Then and Now

Since the book “Innovator’s dilemma” hit the stores, people took the word disruption coined by Mr. Clayton seriously. He spoke about how companies will miss out on seizing new innovation opportunities as they fail to keep their ears on the ground and put money where it matters. To look at it more closely with an illustration, the trends that have followed the digitization revolution and budding opportunities in AI are prime examples. Many businesses failed to keep up with the rapid changes happening especially in the mobile landscape. Organizations that jumped on the bandwagon of digitization and automation in time arguably have better customer satisfaction.

Disruptions in the past decade have not only assisted companies but have helped the end user substantially too. The distance from company to consumer is down to fraction of a second enabling higher level of integration and engagement.

Looking Ahead

In this time of disruption and booming innovation it’s essential that organizations invest in the right research and development option and look at suitable channel partners who can help them accelerate growth while staying ahead of times. The nascent technologies of today like blockchain, crypto currency, etc., can become next big thing in terms of business. As we look ahead it is essential that a company formulates an innovative approach and portrays a sustainable strategy for its stakeholders. Challenging the status quo and taking calculated risk has become the need of the hour but the disruption should be projected inwards before outwards.

Strategies for Data-driven Organizations

Time and again, it has been said that, to survive in today’s business environment companies should target their efforts in becoming data driven. A vast majority or organizations have actually taken cognizance of this and are striving to become conscious data-driven enterprise. Although many organizations think of themselves as data-driven, many lack the level of integration and change in organizational culture that is a requisite in organizations. This is the primary reason why companies are nowadays struggling with data overload & inefficiency in using the data accessible to them.

You have data, now what?

The trend of investment in big data and analytics has been swelling up with private equity and venture capitalists flooding the money in. But, just accessibility to data is not enough, the data acquired has to be put to use by constructive decision-making. Thus, there has to be effective strategy making at the other end of the spectrum for all the data driven organizations to exploit the potential that the data actually holds. While creative channels for acquiring data are in abundance now there is a need for quality sorting and getting crunched insights even when the data is from disparate sources.

Consider this as a long-term organizational goal to be 100% data intensive but in order to achieve that goal you need to ensure that you have the following ready,

You have connected all your complex data sources
You have the ability to share data swiftly via various dashboards, storyboards, applications etc.
You have data warehousing abilities (this is critical as the mass of data you will have to store in near future is only going to increase).
Analytical tools are in alignment with your managerial strength.
Capacity to crunch data and provide business intelligence at ease.
If you do haven’t ticked these boxes then every time you take a step forward to utilize the data for more you will be restricted by one thing or the other. If you have ticked the above boxes then congratulations, you are on the right path on using your data well but in order to do more it’s essential that you do more with data.

Strategizing with data

Effective strategizing with the data can transform the way business is done and speed up the problem finding and problem solving processes for companies. McKinsey & Company tells us that companies that have adopted data-driven strategies enjoy 5 percent higher productivity and 6 percent higher profits than their competitors. This proves that strategy making based on data can give an immense boost to your organizational performance. Now let’s have a look at what all can be done on an enterprise level to capitalize on the data.

1. Smashing the Silos:
After you have sourced the data from various channels, it so happens that there is departmentalization of the data, which leads to creation of data silos. This restricts an organization’s capacity to make the most of this data. To inhibit this from happening it’s essential that we break down these silos. For doing this, it’s essential that all the data sharing platforms are integrated and all teams have access to all types of data at any given time. For example, if the marketing team has access to sales insights, it will assist them in coming up with better marketing content to push the product portfolio. Similarly if the operations team has access to marketing & sales insights then it can implement production schedules by understanding which products are in demand more which in turn can help save on the inventory pile up and guarantee the product being at the right place at the right time. All of the raw and unstructured data has tremendous consumer behavioral insights which if considered while creating the business strategy of a company the results obtained would be tremendous.

2. Creating Analytical Models:
With the uncertainty of business outcomes at an all-time high, managers need to work with analytics models that can forecast and optimize these outcomes to the fullest. Once you have identified a business opportunity you need to build a model around it so as to increase the performance levels of that venture. Creating models based on a hypothesis and statistically reviewing it helps managers understand the crux of the data faster and assists in gaining actionable insights, which then enhance their decision-making ability. Clarity of thought acts as a byproduct here but doing any modeling exercise requires extensive investment in terms of time and can put practicality at risk. Thus, executives need to understand which model can serve them the most with the least amount of complexity.

3. Leveraging Capabilities:
Achieving and maintaining a level of balance between your human capital and technical capabilities is paramount. Only when you have achieved this can you then leverage the potential they carry. It is not pragmatic to bring expensive data driving systems onboard when you haven’t got the human resource with the right skill set to drive it. One of the primary goals can thus be working towards building a stable bench of analytics professional within your company, which can be backed with continuous training and development to maintain the efficiency. Creating platforms, which can be easily accessed by the employees to draw and use data, is essential. It calls for an advanced backend infrastructure and improved front-end capabilities like report generation and visualization. Once the above is done and your data strategy is aligned with the business strategy then the opportunities for value creation are endless.

4. Agility + Security + Quality:
Failure in creating a feeling of data drive in your organization and a poor data governance structure can turn out to be catastrophic for any enterprise. To protect your company from this it’s imminent that 1) there is a clear definition of business outcomes known to all and 2) clarity in terms of accountability i.e. there should be no miscommunication in understanding the ownership of work. Integrating business workflows with employees accompanied with a strong compliant data governance structure will only certify higher efficiency for any organization. The right amount of vigilance also keeps quality of work in check and maintains discipline.

Conscious efforts in incorporating good data driven practices in your organizational culture will serve the organization in the long run and increase the adaptability to any changes in the near future.

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