When and Why Should You Digitize?

What do we mean by document digitization? In business, the term is simply a catch-all way refer to the complete set of processes needed to convert physical resources into a digital form that can be used in the same way as the original source materials, and also shared and enhanced in ways that a simple piece or paper or a book cannot.

Paper Work

These newly digitized materials — whether they are internal memos, old contracts, or entire books — can be used across a worldwide organization through digital devices, databases, and networks.

These new digital objects can be viewed as a collection — a shared digital pool of information — that can be quickly accessed by members of the organization and provide continuity for departments and teams over time.

When is Digitization the Answer?

It is important to approach digitization as a series of choices where a variety of factors come into play.

When selecting material for digitization, your organization should answer three simple questions about the material under consideration:

  • Does it need to be converted?
  • Who would benefit from the conversion?
  • Can it be successfully converted in a useful way?

Answering these questions will help your organization when it is time to look at technical feasibility, usability issues, and prioritizing materials to be converted.

Why are you Digitizing?

If your organization is new to digitization you should examine your reasoning along two lines so you have a firm goal in mind before you begin. Is your primary goal to enhance access to the selected materials or are you simply working to preserve long term access to legacy materials that your organization has accumulated over time?

For the first purpose, increased access, one key point to examine is the exact benefits to be gained by providing increased access to materials for your staff. It is quite smart to focus on specific needs and to target a specific group of workers. Having specific people in mind will help in planning as you evaluate options based on concrete needs and work-flows.

For the second purpose, preservation, you may be dealing with source materials that are bulky or damaged, or just inconvienient to store. In this case you want to create accurate reproductions of these originals on a long-lasting medium and focus on long term solutions that can be expanded over time rather than on the selection of materials based to demand. These preserved reproductions need to satisfy both users of today and future potential users, and must therefore both high quality and based on format and structure that can be sustained over a long period time.