Questions to Frank McKenna, CEO of the Knowledgeone Corporation
Q1. If you were trying to persuade a business to go digital what would you list as the reasons and the advantages?
There are common sense, good business, legal and risk management reasons to digitize your records. For example:
Every industry has a plethora of legislation it must comply with. Most of this compliance legislation is around documents (electronic and physical) and processes. It is virtually impossible to meet all required compliance legislation without digitizing both your records and business processes. There are also financial penalties, often huge, for not meeting compliance legislation. It is about risk management; why take the risk?
Given compliance legislation and the very real possibility of punitive fines, the cardinal rule is to retain information only as long as legally required. Maintaining records past their legal life creates a real and tangible risk for your business. Of course, you should never destroy information other than via an established retention process and schedule. It is virtually impossible to enforce a compliant retention regime without first digitizing your records and processes.
Natural disasters are a fact of life, floods, fire, earthquakes, tsunamis etc. Having your records, especially vital records, in a form that can be easily and quickly recovered is essential for your business to survive a major event. Having your records digitized and then secured by backups or DR systems in other locations is the only way to ensure business continuity.
Every business transaction relies on having the most current and most accurate records. This is impossible without first employing a digitization process to ensure that you capture and record each version of an electronic record and accurately track and locate the latest versions of electronic and paper records. Good business decisions are always based on the most current and most accurate information. Digitization provides the most current and most accurate information and facilitates the best business decision making and lowest business risk.
Speed and Ease of Access:
Digitization is the only way you are assured of being able to search for and locate the most recent and accurate information instantly. It is also necessary for staff to be able to work from home or a remote location while traveling.
Productivity, Cost-Saving and Increased Profits:
- Do you want your staff spending hours, days or weeks trying to locate vital information or just seconds?
- Do you want your staff to be able to complete their work in the shortest possible time?
- Do you want essential business processes to be automated to massively improve productivity and profits?
If the answer is yes to any of these questions, then you must digitize your records and business processes.
NB: AS an elevator pitch it requires that we travel to the 200th floor, or just use the headings.
Q2. Why is now a good time to go digital? Are there any business/economic/socio-economic drivers that make going digital in 2021 even more important? Are you finding that enquiries are on the up?
Any time is a good time to go digital but as we have seen over the COVID Pandemic in 2020, those organizations that were already digitized found it far easier to survive the pandemic and the major disruptions to business operations associated with it. For example, companies that had already digitized found it infinitely easier to rapidly move to a new regime of staff working from home.
Digitization provided the flexibility organizations needed to rapidly adapt to the ‘new normal’. The Pandemic is a salient lesson to all businesses, you cannot adapt and survive without going digital and the right time is always now. Going digital is insurance against future disruptions and an investment in increased productivity and profits.
Q3. Can you list some of the business problems that Knowledgeone’s solutions could solve?
The most common problem we were first asked to solve (way back in 1984) was missing or lost file folders. Digitizing paper records and processes (e.g., requests and movements) with an electronic records management system and then tracking the movement of all records using bar codes and bar code readers provided our early customers with a solution because RecFind told them where the missing file folder was last seen. In most cases, this allowed the records manager to quickly locate the missing file folder. This functionality is still part of the current RecFind 6 product and is still used extensively by our customers still managing physical records.
In today’s world most of the problems we are asked to solve are in relation to business processes, commonly called workflow. As expected, most of these processes are document centric. Examples are mortgage application processing, contract management, case management and securities management. RecFind 6 is also used as a solution for vaccination management, capturing and managing all of the child vaccination information in the state of NSW, Australia.
And of course, digitization of physical records, the management of electronic records along with the automation of business processes are the most common requirements across our customer base.
Q4. Can you explain how going digital could save a business both money and time?
As explained previously, a great driver for digitization is to is to increase productivity. To enable employees to do more in a workday and to give employees more time to work on important matters and to reduce the time they must spend on mundane tasks.
Simply being able to find anything instantly can save thousands of man hours and do away with workplace frustration. Knowing that you have access to the most current and most accurate information facilitates better and faster business decision making. Digitization is a win win in all business operations and always leads to increased productivity and profits. As they say, knowledge is power, and digitization provides the knowledge businesses need to be successful.
Q5. Do you have any stats we could use that show how much time a business could save by using Knowledgeone solutions for specific tasks?
In the early days, just being able to quickly locate missing file folders saved organizations thousands of man days. A missing file folder could be located in hours instead of days or weeks or, in the worst case, never found.
An automated records management system saves thousands of man hours over a manually operated physical records management system.
A fully digitized electronic document and records management system (EDRMS) moves up to another level and saves thousands more man days.
Adding automated business process management (workflow) provides the ultimate increase in productivity and streamlined business processes.
Q6. What does the future look like in this field? Could AI, IoT or robotics make changes to the sector?
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
The future and certainly our future development, is around the appropriate use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Natural Language Processing to automate manual processes like record selection and record classification. In our current fully automated RecFind 6 products like GEM (automatic email selection, analysis, capture and classification) and RecCapture (automatic electronic document selection, analysis, capture and classification) we use sophisticated rules-based engines. Our plan is to gradually replace these rules-based engines with AI based engines.
We, like all other vendors, are also replacing all of our ‘fat’ (desktop installed) products with ‘thin’ (run in a browser) products. Right now, our customers still have a choice of using our RecFind 6 smart-client (installed on the desktop) or our web services client (runs in a browser). We have deprecated our smart client product but still support it as our customers transition to the web services client. Very shortly, all applications will be either browser-based or native apps on mobile devices.
Cloud instead of On-Premises
We have offered Cloud based solutions for many years but are now seeing an accelerated take-up of this option. More and more of our clients are asking us to move their on-premises solutions to the Cloud. Our online new service, RF6Cloud.com, provides just Cloud based solutions for our smaller SME customers.
Q7. Businesses in certain regions of the world are still working on paper, so it might be a bit daunting for them. What would you suggest are the very first steps to take towards going digital?
All organizations beginning to move to digitization are faced with the same problem. How do they capture, clean up (i.e., de-duplicate) and capture all of their existing paper and electronic records?
Common questions are:
- How do we determine redundant, obsolete and trivial content for deletion?
- How do we analyse millions of documents and items and apply pre-defined classification and retention to them?
Our usual response is “This clean-up process is part of every EDRMS implementation, and we have specially designed tools to make it easier and faster.”
- In all cases, the first step is an inventory, what do we have? What form are they in (e.g., paper, Excel spreadsheets, records in a legacy system, etc.).
- The next step is to decide what you want to capture (it is rarely everything). A key factor here is access frequency. Do we need to access this record every day, every week, every month, once a year, infrequently or never? Why capture and digitize something you are never going to look at again?
- Then how you want to capture them. We have a number of automated tools for this purpose so as to make the capture and import process as quick as possible.
- Then how you want everything to appear in your new records or document management system (how everything is ‘mapped’ into a new data structure).
Another common question is “Do I do back-scanning” or do I just start digitizing paper records from day one? In most cases, the cost to back-scan many thousands of paper file folders far exceeds the benefits. In some cases, the records are valuable enough (e.g., Vital Records or records with historical value) to justify the expense. We consult with our clients to help them make the right decisions.
For customers with a “It looks too big” problem we may also propose just digitizing one section or division first as proof of concept and to develop the team and methodologies that will work best for that organization and its culture. We may also recommend just choosing a few troublesome business processes first to automate, again as proof of concept and to assist in selling the approach to the rest of the organization.
Q8. What are the questions that prospective clients ask you the most?
- How long will it take?
- How much will it cost?
- Can you integrate to our legacy systems?
- How disruptive to normal business will it be?
- How much training will be required?
Q9. Can you pick out your most popular products and what they do in easy-to-understand language? Just a line or two each.
The most popular products are our core product RecFind 6 (one that every customer has), and the RecFind 6 Button.
RecFind 6 is a fully featured Electronic Document and Records Management System (EDRMS) with all the functionality any organization will ever need including workflow, document imaging, full text searching, barcode reader support, offsite storage management, check-in, check-out, versioning, retention, classification and a full power report writer together with a full complement of standard reports. RecFind 6 also offers a web client in addition to the standard smart client to assist in rolling out a zero footprint, zero maintenance application.
The RecFind 6 Button ‘sits in’ the toolbar of your native application (e.g. Word, Outlook, Excel) and allows you to quickly and easily capture any electronic document and store and index it into the RecFind 6 database in its native format or as a PDF file without ever having to leave the native application or run RecFind 6.
In addition, the RecFind 6 Button allows you to either create document profiles (Metadata) or search for existing document profiles. It also includes Check In, Check Out for electronic documents stored in RecFind 6 plus Document Scanning for desktop scanning operations to digitize paper records.
It is a low-cost, small-footprint, electronic document management system. The ideal add-on for RecFind 6 that makes it easy as possible for staff to capture and manage electronic documents from within an application they use every day and are familiar with.