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What Are the Benefits of a Digital Archive?


Or: What Do We Need a Digital Archive For Anyway?​

It’s a fair question. For businesses and organizations whose main focus lies far outside history, it might be difficult to see the benefits of digitizing all your old records and documents. Why add more to-dos to your organization’s already busy workload?

Digitization can create efficient workflows to solve problems you may not even realize have a solution. Each department in your company might have numerous reasons why digital copies of your collection, a digital archive, and Digital Asset Management (or DAM) would come in handy. Here are a few ideas.

digital library in phone

Turning a physical object into an accurate and useable digital record takes an investment in time, equipment, and personnel.

magnifying glass on computer

Quick Reference

If you find yourself needing to reference physical documents frequently, it might be time to consider digitization. Not only is looking through digital files much easier than searching through boxes or filing cabinets filled with oldpapers, but with Optical Character Recognition (OCR), you have the ability to search your digital files for keywords or phrases. Do you know the information you need is somewhere in the text, but you just can’t remember where? No need to reread hundreds of pages looking for one quote or stat! And once you’re there, you can just copy and paste the text out of the PDF. No more retyping!

Promotional Materials

Having your company's history digitized makes for great marketing opportunities or promotional materials. Does your company have a big anniversary year coming up? This is the perfect opportunity to give your clients a look back at your beginnings and show what makes you experts in your field. Sharing photos of the founders or a timeline of significant events in your company's past connects with your audience in a deeper way. Here at Anderson Archival, we have the equipment to capture your historical documents and photos at a high resolution to use for banners, posters, and more! And if your documents show their age with stains or tears, don't panic. We can also digitally repair them so they're ready for the limelight.

Saving – Space, Time, and Money

For organizations not required by law to keep physical documents, a digital archive and materials, erasing the need for shelves full of papers or that warehouse of file cabinets. The only physical space required for digital archives is a computer or other devices needed to access the collection; however, a digital archive does require an ample amount of digital storage space.

There are also the added benefits of saving time and money. Organizing and maintaining a physical archive is time-consuming and can include a decent amount of physical labor. Even if you outsource your storage, you are often responsible for packing and shipping the documents to a storage facility. When a document or record is needed, it takes time for the archival company to pack and send it back to you.

Stack of books need to be converted to ebook

There are also the added benefits of saving time and money. Organizing and maintaining a physical archive is time-consuming and can include a decent amount of physical labor. Even if you outsource your storage, you are often responsible for packing and shipping the documents to a storage facility. When a document or record is needed, it takes time for the archival company to pack and send it back to you.

A digital archive can eliminate all these tasks and help save your business money in the long term. There is no need to spend money on the expenses associated with packing, shipping, and storing of the physical documents, including the costly storage space rental. Want to save some money and free up some storage space? It might be time to make the switch to a digital archive.

binders of paperwork

Flexible Accessibility

Working from home is more popular than ever. If your location shut down even briefly in 2020, you know how frustrating forced remote work can be when physical documents are only accessible within the office. Since then, we’ve seen an explosion of remote work. Is your business still working remotely without the benefits of a digital archive? Once digitized, documents can be accessed from home, on business trips, and by multiple people at once. In addition, a found that 92% of respondents said flexible working location is moderately or very important to them, meaning that offering a WFH option could be a significant appeal for prospective employees. Digitization even makes completely office-free businesses possible, saving serious money.

Enhanced Security

Tangible physical files always carry the risk of being lost or damaged in some way. A digital archive has enhanced security measures in place to protect the information from potential threats. A secured digital archive employs encryption and access controls to safeguard your data, which can be backed up and stored on multiple devices in different locations. Developing access controls allows you to limit what each person can access, modify, and download. Though the chances of online theft cannot be eliminated entirely, a digital archive with the proper security measures put in place significantly reduces the chances of being hacked.

The chances of the accidental loss of data or data being damaged are also reduced. Even though digital files often deteriorate at a faster rate than physical documents due to bit loss and other digital hazards, restoring them is easy when appropriate backup copies are in place. Protect your data by digitizing your records!

Updating Obsolete Formats

In the past few centuries, we have seen a number of media and file formats for storing information be developed. Some stuck around for a long time, and others faded just as quickly as they appeared. It’s probably been a while since you last used a laserdisc or an 8-track tape (that is, if you’ve ever used one at all), but it’s not uncommon to encounter slide photos or VHS tapes. If your business has media stored in older formats, you know the hassle of hunting down the outdated machine you need to view or listen to it. Once digitized into ISO-approved file formats, the risk of obsolescence rendering your data useless decreases dramatically. With digitization, you can have all that information at your fingertips and ready to work with. Never fuss with the office VHS player again!

old tech

Legal Compliance

Depending on your industry, keeping certain documents or records is often a regulatory requirement. Several laws, statutes, and regulations on the federal, state, and local levels expressly require that certain documents be retained for a specified period to help ensure regulatory compliance related to information governance. There is a wide variety of documents businesses are required to keep, including accounting records, tax records, legal documents, and personnel records.

It’s important to note that some of these guidelines require preserving the physical document and not a digital copy. Retention schedules also vary depending on the document type, though the most common duration is seven or more years. If regulation demands a physical copy, your digital archive won’t replace that storage but can serve as a useful tool for search and access.

A digital archive can help categorize and index these files for easy access and help prevent accidental loss of the documents, as failing to keep these records could result in fines or adverse inferences. It also can automate retention schedules so you don’t keep files you no longer need.

Digitally preserving your documents is a great way to keep them safe from disaster and degradation, but that’s not the only reason to digitize your business or organization. From convenience to legal requirements to promotional materials, there’s a multitude of ways digitization can serve your business. Anderson Archival has worked with many companies to create a digital collection that serves their specific needs. 

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