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The end of pandemic and physical records in sight?

Authored by David Gould - Sep 22, 2021


The transformation of physical to digital content creates a whole new set of process issues around classification and location.

The pandemic changed a lot of things; most notably how people worked alone AND together outside the office. Without an office to go to during lockdown meant that we learned how to recreate at home our work-based creature comforts – free coffee, office supplies and a cafeteria. Another office creature comfort for which we had to figure out workarounds during COVID centered on the file cabinet, desk drawer or remote warehouses to access physical records. Frankly, the inability to access paper-based information easily and efficiently from remote locations during the Pandemic exposed the primary weakness of paper records — easy access. Never mind the cost of maintenance, processing, filing and re-filing; the inability to access paper-based business information had a dramatic impact on productivity. Contrast that against searching an intranet, file share or content repository.  

Remote access to electronically stored content saved our businesses during the 18 months of not going to the office. It’s hard to place 100 percent blame on the pandemic for the demise of physical record keeping, but the pandemic has really accelerated the transformation of how we do business. Post pandemic – in a distributed work anywhere workplace – paper records seem headed for the same fate as other iconic office tools such as the Rolodex, electric typewriter and spools of White-Out tape: Office relics, antiques with very limited long-term usefulness.

Like everything else, the pandemic is accelerating the transformation of physical to digital. So the real question becomes, what is the future of physical records? That future is very, very limited. Of course, some jurisdictions still require physical copies of records. But more importantly, those organizations who rely heavily on physical records to support everyday business processes are going to find themselves in an even more precarious and non-competitive position — even when the pandemic is fully in our rear-view mirror.  

When it comes to paper records management, the industry leaders in physical records storage have seen this transformation coming for a long time and have taken very aggressive steps to offer alternatives way before the pandemic era. The physical records management industry has not only consolidated but is undergoing the same transformational shifts that we are seeing in other parts of the digital world. Every large records management company has been actively supplanting their physical records warehousing offerings with solutions that accelerate the transformation and digitization of physical records.

The transformation of physical to digital content creates a whole new set of process issues around classification and location. The good news is that post pandemic technologies such as machine learning and artificial intelligence driven analytics will help in the last mile of managing the lifecycle of your newly created digital content. Our advice at EncompaaS is to really begin looking at your organization’s dependency on physical records and begin the transformation process to minimize the use of physical records except for when absolutely required, such as local legal statutes or the fact that the object is truly a physical asset. Even then, a photograph of the asset, complete with rich metadata is better than just good enough. The EncompaaS platform can help you accelerate your digital transformation program safely and compliantly with modern functionality and tools that complete the last mile – analytics, metadata enhancement, auto-classification and policy to manage.  

Let’s get the conversation about the future of physical records started, reach out to me anytime to discuss.

David Gould

Chief Customer Officer

Send an email to [email protected] for more information.

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