Digitising documents is currently at the forefront of digital transformation efforts at law firms, banks, corporate businesses and organisations of all sizes and across all sectors, and is likely to become even more important in a post-Covid world. Current projections show that business-related data is growing at a rate of 30% every year – but the trouble most companies have is managing that data in a cost-effective way and being able to reuse it to drive more timely decision-making.
A medium-to-long-term view of how this information is captured and curated is going to be a key part of every organisation’s future data strategy. The opportunity now exists to combine collaborative solutions and their benefits with a data strategy that enables firms to ensure data is captured, structured, enriched and connected in the best possible way for future use.
Breaking down barriers
Silos are like double-edged swords: we can overcome problems created by people working in silos, but we can’t be as positive about the data that’s created and stored in silos as a result. Silos are barriers to sharing information and making faster decisions, and they limit collaboration in a world in which remote working and collaboration are increasingly important. Yet, they’re ubiquitous: silos are probably the most common cause of challenges faced by every organisation, be that a bank, a law firm or a corporate business. As organisations adopt the use of more technology, the risk of creating even more silos is higher, so technology decisions have to include more than just solving the problem at hand – and data will be a key factor to consider.
Accurate data structures
The tools we use today to create documents focus more on how they are created and presented than how they are stored. This is radically different to collaborative solutions, which tend to take a balanced view using proven practices such as version control, auditability, and data from other industries. While offering a unified experience and solving the challenges of working remotely, there are platforms which also focus on using proven standards such as DITA (Darwin Information Type Architecture) and other formats to enable digitising and storing complex documents as structured data.
Structuring the information in documents enables them to be easily consumed by machines and tends to yield more accurate results for decision-making. Unstructured data is very objective and isn’t suited for insights
Metadata meets insights
Our view of what we see in a document needs to change – for examp
le, a prospectus is created using a combination of financial, legal and compliance information. Being able to extract datasets and then targeting that information at the right audience is faster if cap
tured at the source using a data standard. A change in perspective of how we view documents, what they represent, how they are created, presented and stored is required to capitalise on the information in those documents. Using tools that enable you to tag data based on taxonomies, for financial and regulatory purposes, will enable documents to become sources of data that can then be leveraged in the future.
Connecting the dots
The future of digitised documents will revolve around how you can connect information between them and capitalise on insights and facts based on the information in them. For example:
- An analyst might want to extract the profit and loss data from a prospectus or an annual report.
- A compliance officer might want to extract key phrases that highlight conformance.
- A smart contract system might need a list of conditions subsequent that can be acted upon.
- A regulator might want to pull information based on a specific regulation.
How data in these documents is captured, related and connected is key to a future where faster, cheaper and more accurate access to information is required to make just-in-time decisions. This will also be a key driver for enabling both unstructured and structured data to coexist and provide benefits around insights and decision-making.
The opportunity to reset and align data strategies is here now, in the shape of collaborative, cloud-based solutions. The question that remains is whether organisations are looking beyond solving immediate problems – a large number of digitisation programmes continue to digitise documents, but data is duplicated, disconnected and stored across silos in formats that are incompatible with each other. As we move into the future, the time taken to provide cleaner, machine-readable data will limit the adoption and benefits of such technology – so creating data in the right format right from the start will be key.
ScribeStar, at its core, is built on the principles of structured data, standards and multi-party collaboration to provide efficiency gains when complex content has to be published. This enables different parties to consume data in different formats while guaranteeing that data is stored in a format that’s usable in the future. While it specifically shines in corporate finance documents, annual reports and possibly sustainability reports where content needs to be reused, data extracted and published in different formats, its capabilities can be applied to a wide range of documents that span across most legal matters and projects.