Merging Paper and Electronic Content

Emerging technology is shifting the paradigm of record origination and records management.  Further innovations in the ability to integrate and merge the applications that manage such data are driving an ever advancing efficiency model. While technology continues to enable greater access of information and records, the records themselves continue to advance challenges.

The reality is that regardless of the deployment of technology to manage records,there is still the matter of the records themselves.

As scanning and capture of paper records emerged, the business community was quick to identify the advantages of employing these techniques.  So the mass scanning of records grew into a burgeoning industry to provide “conversion services”.  And as the number of companies grew to service this advancing market…so the did number of descriptors associated with the service offering.

Among these, are some you may have heard:

  • E-Documents
  • Document Imaging
  • Scanning
  • Imaging
  • EDMS ( Electronic Document Management System)
  • ECM ( Electronic Content Management )
  • Scan To CD
  • Electronic File Cabinet

And probably countless others.

The assumption and sales pitch always being, by companies offering such services and products….SCAN THE PAPER!!!

Scan the paper worked well, until after that paper was scanned…more paper came into existence.


So, the result of that was businesses which had no interest in becoming “conversion shops” became conversion shops.

Why? Scan the paper!!!

Why are we scanning the paper? “It’s a useful, emerging technology…it’s cutting edge…it innovates the business process.”

Well maybe. But, maybe not.  The truth is I have scanned millions of pages of paper, that no one ever looked at again. I have attached them to very high end very expensive systems that served out content in ways you couldn’t conceive to people who never looked at it. Some of this was for the sake of compliance; some was for the sake of vanity…and some was just owing to the existence of a “better” or “newer” approach.

The truth is I didn’t invent what is quickly becoming known as  Hybrid Records Management, but when I heard of it, I immediately embraced it. As a service provider I understood what tremendous advantage I could offer users tailoring a content delivery system that provided delivery of both physical and electronic content based on what was required, not what was required based on some loose interpretation of “emerging technologies”, but what was required right now in reality.

Such a system, I thought, could provide all of this:

  • Management of Record Sets regardless of the state of those records
  • Delivery of those Records regardless of the location of those records
  • Compliance with policy and laws regarding due diligence to records
  • Identification and Disposition of records in the normal course of business
  • Ultimate portability of any record, any where, for any reason

I thought to myself, well, let’s have it all!

In a high use, high access environment SCAN THE PAPER, however in low use environments where the issue is not so much high traffic to the record set, but availability, then don’t scan the records. Maintain the records and offer an on demand system that can deliver content when and where it is required. Then manage those records electronic or physical to the end point of its retention and provide a an easy method to exit them from the Enterprise in a prudent and compliant manner.

I thought to myself, we can have it all!

And we can. You see technology has advanced, new methods are emerging. And with such advances scan the paper has now become manage and deliver the records efficiently and cost effectively.

Through this blog, I’m going to expand on some management opportunities that a hybrid records management system offers. The primary focus, in my opinion, at this time is delivery of content. We’re all used to using our iPads, our laptops, our phones to receive content, these devices are ubiquitous in our lives. The infrastructure that services these devices is ever advancing and offers capabilities that just a few years ago would have been considered fantastic, now they are rather mundane.

Advances in web technology and coding have afforded application developers fast deployment opportunities of complex solutions and an ever advancing standardization of content management standards is bringing unified systems closer and closer all the time.

The operable theory, in my opinion is that hybrid records management offers flexibility beyond what static systems of structured paper filing or huge conversions of paper to electronic media simply don’t.  A well conceived management plan and an effective application can bring all of the records into the same view and offer options, minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day.  This means valuable resources aren’t expended until it becomes clear that committing in a direction will return defined ROI to justify the project.

But, at the same time it preserves prudent management, compliance and availability.

It does this, but it also exposes decision points to reveal effective management strategies.

Merging paper and electronic content is not something that will happen in the future it’s happening right now. The choice is do you manage to that reality or just continue to scan, store and expend dollar after dollar in the dark.



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