Digitizing mail seems like it should be simple – just scan it and you’re done, right? – but, as always, the devil is in the details. Mail reaches into every corner of your business, across departments with diverse tasks. And in the same way that there’s rarely a single workflow that works for every department, the same is true for digital mail. In working with a variety of corporations, we’ve found that digitizing inbound mail creates the most significant savings and efficiencies when it’s tailored to an organization’s unique needs – suiting the ways they already do business. In this blog, we’ll review these needs, and the solutions that could fit you best.

Delivering digital mail as email
When we first start talking to executives who haven’t previously thought about digital mail, we often hear, “Why don’t we just send it through regular email?” This fits their personal experience, and email delivery is a convenient solution for mail sent to a single individual. But in today’s world, 70+% of physical corporate mail isn’t addressed to an individual. It’s transactional, not social, and is therefore addressed to a functional department, group, or PO Box. Sending conventional email to a transactional group is a recipe for catastrophe. It requires an extra copy of the content for each member of the group, which bogs down your network. Multiple people trying to manage a queue of transactional email is difficult. And it’s almost impossible to apply audit controls to conventional email queues, so it’s hard to insure nothing gets lost or overlooked.

Let the user decide
Some digital mail solutions initially send only envelope images to each user, and allow them to decide what action to take on each piece – receive the physical or scanned documents within, or toss the mail as junk. This might seem like a good idea, as in theory it looks like it saves scanning cost, sends the user the physical or digital version as requested, and keeps low/no-value content out of your network. But, the reality is this type of solution increases both labor and delivery time, and doesn’t scale well. Every piece of mail is touched at least twice. Users that don’t respond don’t get their mail, and clog up the mailroom with mail awaiting action. Additionally, this model doesn’t work for transactional mail, where 100% of the mail should be digitized and sent to a group destination to facilitate the fastest and most efficient transaction processing and customer response.

Machine learning/data extraction
Technologically, machine learning solutions are the coolest. A piece of mail comes in and magically, the data is extracted and put into the right system. In the right circumstance, this is clearly optimal – the fastest time to get data into your systems with the least amount of labor. But for many types of mail, this automation is unfeasible. AI systems don’t (and simply can’t) come off-the-shelf with all the knowledge necessary to sort and process the full breadth of a corporation’s complex mail. These systems can perform well when gradually “trained” on large volumes of similar documents. But when presented with a corporation’s highly diverse content, the training process becomes unending. These factors make machine learning an unlikely core solution for eliminating physical mail. Mail still needs to be presorted, mail unsuitable for machine learning still needs to be physically delivered, and document training must be coordinated with many groups.

Flexible and complete
It should be getting clear by now that digitizing inbound mail cannot be solved by a one-size-fits-all solution. This is where Eco-mail comes in. The right solution needs to be able to distribute 100% of your mail without presort. It has to be easy and quick to deploy to all corners of your company, so you can reap the benefits of digital mail today – not at some distant point in the future. It needs to have the flexibility to deliver individually addressed mail as attachments to their conventional email, or send transactional mail to sophisticated interfaces that are designed to support groups of users. It also needs to be the digital middleware that allows you to connect your digital mail to existing departmental workflows, or expose the “right” high-volume queues to machine learning solutions to efficiently extract and transform data.

That’s why Eco-mail offers all of these capabilities. It’s a real-world solution that allows you to digitize all of your mail, transform your operations, and capture the strategic and economic benefits today – not at some point far into the future.

Jay Maller
Jay Maller
Jay Maller is the founder and CEO of Eco-mail. He has 30+ years of management experience leading the design, development and implementation of financial products: prime brokerage, hedge fund, portfolio accounting, and fixed-income derivatives trading solutions. As Managing Director at Morgan Stanley, he led the development of the business’ industry-leading client facing applications, proprietary multi-currency portfolio accounting system, and complete re-engineering of all client management workflow systems.

Eco-Mail is a secure, scalable, Digital Post Office system that transforms incoming physical mail into powerful digital assets – at their point of entry to your business. We enable clients to streamline their operations, increase response times, improve their controls and compliance – and, by the way, save a huge amount of money. We’re already helping one of America’s three largest banks. We love to talk about digital mail, so email me direct if you like at [email protected]