Postal Evolution: The Digital Mailroom
In our previous blog Postal Evolution: From Horses To The Digital Age, we took a look at the history of postal innovation, from the early days of horseback delivery through the advent of airmail, ZIP codes, and mail tracking software.
The next step in this ongoing evolution is the digital mailroom.
A significant amount of our correspondence – both personal and business – is now digital. We send signed contracts and other documents via e-mail, cloud-based file services (like Dropbox), and other types of secure document sharing apps. Birthday cards and party invitations have been supplanted by e-vites and Facebook messages. While this has led to an overall drop in mail volume, a significant amount of paper mail still has to be sorted and distributed via corporate mailrooms.
And that old corporate mail mindset – that a central mailroom will distribute important business correspondence manually to an employee’s desk – still persists despite the fact that employees are increasingly untethered from their offices. In some organizations, employees don’t even have their own desks, let alone offices; they simply plug a tablet or laptop in at whatever workstation is available. Or they work from home. Or they bounce among satellite offices, working from their phones while in transit.
In that type of environment, a paper-based mail distribution system is an anachronism. The technology exists today to link the world of paper mail with the types of digital communications we all rely on, creating a single repository of information.
The mailroom – which acts as the gateway for a lot of the paper entering the enterprise – is a prime spot for the type of process automation required by a successful digital transformation strategy. Recent research from Technavio cites the digital mailroom as one of the key sources of growth in the global document outsourcing market, which will see a compound annual growth rate of 6 percent through 2020.
Document capture solutions that include enterprise-class scanners and document management software are at the forefront of digital transformation. The digital mailroom allows companies to capture documents at the earliest point of entry, whether a large central mailroom or individual facilities at each branch location.
The USPS has recognized this shift and is expanding its own digital services. Its new Informed Delivery service allows customers to view images of incoming mail and packages online. More than 8 million subscribers have already created accounts. The USPS is already working on interactive marketing opportunities with some mailers.
In the digital mailroom, incoming documents are digitized as soon as they arrive, and document management software automatically sorts the documents using optical character recognition technology. Physical mail, electronic documents, and faxes can all be integrated into a seamless document flow and distributed accurately and securely across the enterprise.
Integrating both physical and electronic document flows helps create a more manageable information pipeline that benefits employees and the entire company. This also reduces the total number of manual touches per mail piece, which improves productivity and reduces cost. In some cases, companies can achieve a return on investment (ROI) in just 12 to 18 months.
In “telework” environments where employees work remotely or at a variety of locations, securely delivering mail to an individual can be a challenge. A digital mailroom that scans incoming mail helps facilitate mobile or remote employees without compromising security. Employees can access their mail no matter where they are or what device they are using.
A digital mailroom is the foundation of an enterprise digital transformation strategy. It provides the tools and technologies that help organizations manage data across the organization and throughout the entire life cycle of the data. The digital mailroom also represents the next evolution of the postal system – one that can create significant benefits for companies that embrace the coming changes.
Interested in learning how YOUR organization can benefit from a truly digital mail center?
Our team of project managers, engineers, and analysts can assist and support you through your document management and mailroom automation evaluation and implementation process from start to finish. Contact us today via phone (+1 856.727.1100) or online to learn more.