When is a letter not a letter? When it is data.
Businesses today occupy a world where knowledge, speed and opportunity can open doors to increased market share and associated revenue. In readiness for the future, industries across the board have long embraced the principles of digital transformation, eager to be at the top of their game with the efficiencies and infrastructure in place to be truly competitive. But to truly transform, every aspect of an organisation must be taken into account. Even the humble mailroom.
Traditionally a place of mailsacks and hand sorting, the mailroom has always relied on the human touch. And with the human touch often comes human error. While the majority of letters are successfully delivered, some are misplaced or lost. There is usually no record of letters sent and received. The contents, despite being business relevant, are read once and disposed of or filed. In short, the process is flawed; labour intensive, slow and inefficient, with little scope for information sharing.
The mailroom now plays its part in business-wide communications
Even mailrooms can be digitised
Digital mailrooms have been around for years but can often be a source of mystery and frustration when it comes to full digitisation. In reality, they are the classic example of what is often called a ‘hybrid’ office environment – where digitisation exists but is inextricably linked to elements of manual processing. From simple beginnings, such as the scanning of documents to ensure a digital record, the mailroom now plays its part in business-wide communications and sits alongside emails, phone calls and instant messaging as a legitimate channel. Technological advancements such as robotic capture, e-forms, and artificial intelligence applied to mail recognition and classification mean that the ‘digital’ mailroom could actually now be described as ‘intelligent’. It’s a mighty leap from the days of sifting through envelopes and piling them on a trolley.
Care, compliance and confidentiality
As you might expect, data security is the primary concern for in the legal profession and by adopting a digital mailroom, international law firm DWF LLP achieved the strictest international information security standards with ISO 27001 certification. They also cut their physical storage costs by over 50% and anticipate annual cost savings of over £1 million.
An implementation of this nature means that businesses can harness a whole new channel of data, which is of huge importance in customer service and gives employees an ease of access to information like never before. However, this obviously brings with it a new area of focus for data privacy. Before digital, a wrongly distributed letter would be a potentially embarrassing, but unavoidable consequence of the handling process. Today, with the introduction of EU-wide directives which protect personal data (such as GDPR) this kind of accident can lead to major fines. Confidential information falling into the wrong hands can put organisations at risk of huge fines from regulators for data breaches, not to mention the potential to reveal business secrets that could affect market performance. Investment in digital mailroom solutions can mitigate human error and reduce potential threats to compliance.
Change is good
Where we work has changed almost as much as how we work. Not everyone heads into the office every day and we use the tools we need to get the job done – whether that’s Skype, Slack, Teams or just email. So, the idea of needing to be in the office to receive mail is almost absurd. Conversely, as work life becomes more fluid, the rules surrounding the flow of data have become stricter and business communication is complex and evolving. The physical mailrooms of a decade ago simply do not fit with the future focus of today’s ‘digital first’ businesses, but it’s important to remember that as the technology gets smarter, it has the potential to become a communication hub – and the ears and eyes of a business.