What is Multichannel Capture?
We’ve covered the importance of Information Capture on the blog before and explored how capture represents the first step in the information lifecycle. In this step, we “capture” or gather information into our business ecosystem to store, manage, protect, and ultimately it use for business value. It ALL starts with capture.
But, the value of a document is in its content, not whether it was received as an email attachment, captured via a smart phone or tablet, or scanned using a multifunction device. Therefore, multichannel capture takes into account that your business likely has multiple channels or sources of information flowing in and out of your business. As we will discover together, these channels often need to be treated individually, and your Information Capture strategy must take into account the differences from channel to channel.
What is Multichannel Capture?
Before we go further, let’s define Multichannel Capture.
Simply put, multichannel capture is capture from a variety of sources. These range from traditional production or desktop scanners, to multifunction devices, to mobile devices and applications, and everything in between.
And it’s not just the capture of paper through a scanning process: multichannel capture may also include information received via web forms or website uploads; email attachments; and even fax and structured print streams. Ideally, multichannel capture can work in every channel through which the organization receives information.
What are the Types of Multichannel Capture?
Multichannel capture also describes the point and approach to capture. It certainly includes traditional production capture but extends beyond that to include ad hoc capture at the point of service or of a transaction. And it includes on-demand capture, often using a multifunction device or mobile device.
Classification and Routing
Once the content enters the organization, it will go through the multichannel hub. Here, the content is identified, classified, and routed to the appropriate work process. Different platforms take different approaches to this. Some solutions apply specific templates, rules, and analysis per channel; others attempt to apply a uniform set of rules and analysis regardless of the format or source of the content.
Classification and routing can be done through static rules and template-based recognition; today, there are also solutions available that can automate some or all of this process based on patterns. These patterns and relevant rules are derived through the application of machine learning to the incoming content.
Once the content is identified and classified, it can be sent automatically to the appropriate workflow if one exists.
And a key piece of the capture process is assigning metadata to the document. This can be automated as well using many of the same techniques.
Security is even more important when digital information can come in from so many sources. As things come in, the organization needs to implement effective processes and protocols to ensure, for example, that personal medical information doesn’t sit on an open fax or in a shared inbox.
Incoming digital documents need to be scanned for viruses and malware, too, to make sure they don’t cause information security issues.
And access controls need to be set up to ensure that only authorized users have access to the incoming information, and only for the purposes they need it for. For example, someone assembling a mortgage application based on the customer’s submissions probably doesn’t need to be able to edit the documents submitted.
Quality control is always important, but it becomes even more important as organizations incorporate more of these ad hoc capture processes, perhaps using untrained “operators” (aka customers, line of business managers, or anyone whose main job doesn’t involve scanning) and a variety of capture hardware including personal smartphones.
So the first thing to look at is the quality of the actual captured content. There needs to be a step in the process, manual or automated, that ensures that the source content is captured effectively. Images can’t be blurry or out of focus. The entire document needs to be captured. And so forth.
Metadata also needs to be checked. While character recognition technologies are mature and better every year, they are still not perfect and can vary widely depending on the source and operator. Something as simple as a 1-off mismatch can result in every single document’s metadata being incorrect.
Security needs to be checked periodically as well to make sure only authorized users are accessing and interacting with the captured content. Security of the various inputs and channels should be checked periodically as well.
Pop Quiz Time
Now let’s test your knowledge with this sample exercise from AIIM’s training:
What platforms should be included in the multichannel capture strategy? (select all that apply)
- Mobile devices
- Digital copiers
- Book scanners
A, mobile devices; B, digital copiers; and D, email are all among the platforms that should be considered in the multichannel capture strategy. C, book scanners, are very specialized and unique to the book digitization process and generally would not be included.