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Information Governance Captures Attention

Marketing Team - Thursday, August 21, 2014

 

 

 

 

Records and Information Managers’ responsibilities are rapidly changing as more regulations and new sources of information are introduced into the business environment. 

They must manage all types of information: paper, electronic as well as digital assets. Information Governance is the guiding principle in narrowing the gap between collaborative communications and corporate records, as well as managing information throughout its lifecycle.

Understanding this growing challenge, Western Integrated Systems (WIS), in partnership with Fujitsu Corporation, recently hosted the first ever Information Governance Practitioner Certification Program for our clients.

“I believe education and training are important in strengthening our on-going partnership with our customers,” explained Ray Hughes, Director of Operations.

The program created by AIIM (Association for Information and Image Management), the global community for information professionals, defines Information Governance Standards and outlines requirements and necessary steps in creating an Information Governance program.  The professional trained in Information Governance increases the efficiency and overall security of the organization’s information assets and mission-critical records.  

Although tuition for Information Governance Certification is normally more than $1,000, the costs were underwritten by Fujitsu, a premier provider of scanners and related document capture hardware.

Pamela Doyle, Director of Training from Fujitsu, taught the day-long course. She provided a road map on creating an IG program. She showed students how to develop an Information Governance policy framework. Some of the steps include: understanding the requirements, defining the scope, securing executive commitment, and communicating the policies for successful program adoption.

Because of the complexity and cost of the program, attendance was limited. Upon successful completion of the online test, participants will earn an Information Governance Practitioner Certification.

This was the first Information Governance program offered by WIS and based on participants’ input, we will be offering it in other geographical areas to serve more of our clients.  

If you are interested in more information on the Information Governance Practitioner Certifications, please contact Cheryl Young at (714) 997-3700 ext 31 or email Cheryl.young@westint.com.

Dan Rogers - New Sacramento Metro Chamber Ambassador

Marketing Team - Friday, August 08, 2014

Western Integrated Systems is proud to announce that the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce has selected Dan Rogers as their newest Ambassador.   Dan is our Government Account Executive based in our Sacramento Office.

As a Metro Chamber Ambassador, Dan plays a vital role in member retention, recruitment and communication. Each Ambassador makes a commitment to ensure that member needs, questions and concerns are heard and addressed by the Sacramento Metro Chamber. The efforts of the Ambassadors such as Dan keep the Metro Chamber in alignment with the desires of the membership of the organization.

Being an Ambassador provides Dan additional visibility and networking opportunities, as well as professional and community recognition through active volunteering and direct relationship building with members and the Metro Chamber staff.   

Dan has been an active Ambassador of the Chamber since he joined the Metro Chamber earlier this year. Dan is extremely valued for his enthusiasm and for his innate ability to champion both the Chamber and business contacts he meets.

For more information, Dan can be reached at dan.rogers@westint.com / 415 989 1777x15.



Real Issues When Using Spreadsheets for Business Analytics

Marketing Team - Wednesday, July 16, 2014

If you analyze data, chances are you use spreadsheets in some capacity in your organization. Spreadsheets are easy to use for simple data analysis and calculations, and they allow you to visualize tabular data via charts and graphs.

However, spreadsheets have limitations that many business people are not fully cognizant of.  Relying on them for sophisticated data analysis and business decision-support can be inefficient.

Even small spreadsheets can contain thousands of links, formulas, and cell references, creating many of opportunities for error. Even in simple spreadsheet calculations, a cell reference that is off by even one row or column returns different results than what you expected.

Let's take a look at some common pitfalls when using spreadsheets for business analytics. We’ll also look at how business intelligence (BI) is a more reliable method for business decision support.

Erroneous Calculations

Spreadsheets are inherently risky because they typically are updated manually, and error-checking is extremely challenging.  A calculation can easily become broken in the course of adding or updating data. An error in one cell can snowball throughout your data. Don’t believe spreadsheet errors represent a significant risk? They are blamed for:

- A $6 billion derivatives trading loss at JPMorgan Chase. Investigators found that the model that underpinned the hedging strategy operated through a series of manually completed spreadsheets that should have been automated but never were.

No business can afford to base important business decisions upon something that can contain mistakes.

Increased Security Risk

Spreadsheets are frequently distributed via e-mail. Unfortunately, both spreadsheets and e-mail suffer from weak access-control capabilities, so you could easily expose unsecure data to both employees and non-employees. Did your spreadsheet with the comp plans for your sales team just get forwarded to your competition? Even password-protected spreadsheets can easily be compromised by free or inexpensive third-party tools (just Google “how to crack a spreadsheet password”).

Another security hazard is that with spreadsheets, anyone can change the data.  Also, there is no built-in audit trail. If someone edits a formula or data, there’s no recording of who made the edit and why. There is also no archive or roll-back capability.

Spreadsheets Simply Cannot Handle Large Data Sets

As they grow in size, spreadsheets become slow and unwieldy, resulting in lost productivity as users wait for queries to complete. Links and formulas commonly break, and ensuring formula validity becomes more and more problematic, if not impossible. Spreadsheets are designed to handle data across two dimensions; analyzing more than this involves creating pivot tables or manually creating views of additional dimensions, which is fragile, time consuming and error-prone.

In addition, reports that must be updated daily (or more frequently) present significant problems when maintained as spreadsheets. Users must manually manipulate them to append the latest data and delete or archive the oldest data. Formulas must then be copied and validated to transform the raw data columns into the final data elements that are displayed in the report.

Spreadsheets are not Intuitive for Your Average Business User

Most business users can use functions such as “sort” and “sum,” but find it difficult to create a moderately complex formula. For more advanced analysis, business users must often lean on the “power users” within their organization to get the job done, which wastes time for everyone.

It’s also complex to update data. Users must manually recreate transformations and debug any calculations each time the data is refreshed. Merging data from different sources is difficult, time-consuming and filled with the potential for errors.

Business intelligence as a solution

While spreadsheets are useful for simple ad hoc calculations, when they are used for purposes more appropriately addressed with a BI tool, they can expose your company to reputational and financial risk, lost productivity and significantly slower time-to-insight as information workers struggle with the limitations of spreadsheet-based reporting and analysis.

Greg Taylor

Technical Operations Manager





New AIIM India Chapter

Marketing Team - Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Western Integrated Systems Announces
The Opening of New AIIM India Chapter

In our continuing effort to expand our regional and world-wide footprint, Western Integrated Systems proudly announces the opening of the new AIIM India Chapter on June 12, 2014 in New Delhi.    AIIM India will serve the ECM clients and community across India and provide up to date information, networking opportunities, business certifications, and education to the local ECM community in India.

India is viewed as a relative hot-bed of new technology and IT development skills. Offshore resources are becoming more and more critical as the world becomes interlinked in terms of networking and telecommunications.    Staff resources located in India now routinely perform data entry and Q/A on documents and images transferred via FTP from the United States and then route the completed documents with metadata back to the US for use by the user community, at a fraction of the cost of the same service in the US.  

AIIM India will provide the conduit for new information regarding ECM solutions, business opportunities, networking and training and will cover the country of India with its population of 1.2 billion individuals.   The new AIIM India executives, Mr. Samir Dhingra (President), Akshay Sukhwal (Vice President), and Prachi Bhatnager (Treasurer) are available to assist clients within India as well as in United States and Canada.



Western Integrated Systems wishes AIIM India the best of luck in its formation and congratulates the AIIM India team on its new Chapter to serve the ECM community across India and is proud to sponsor this enterprise.   Western Integrated Systems will continue to expand our regional and world-wide footprint to service ECM clients with solutions that raise the bar on productivity, quality, and level of service.

Al Ramsay
Secretary - AIIM India (New Delhi)
(425) 681 4689






Al Ramsay - New Docent at Burke Museum

Marketing Team - Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Al Ramsay, Market Operations Manager for Western Integrated Systems, was recently selected as a Docent by the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture in Seattle WA. This continues the long legacy and track record of public service and community support embraced by Western Integrated Systems as one of our key cultural and business drivers.

The Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture is located on the campus of the University of Washington and is Washington State’s oldest museum and was founded in 1885. Al will specifically focus on scout education programs and merit badge activities, including geology, life sciences, anthropology, archeology, and other program areas which relate to scout advancement.

According to Cassandra Sandkam, Docent Manager at the Burke Museum, "Al was selected to be an on-going Docent at the University of Washington Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, due to his commitment level to the scouting organization and their merit badge training programs and because of his other Docent work with the Woodland Park Zoo, Issaquah Salmon Hatchery, and The Museum of Flight. Al will make an excellent addition to the Docent team because of his passion for education, youth development, and community service, so we welcome Al as a permanent Docent to the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture".

All partners, customers, and prospects are encouraged to contact Al Ramsay for a tour of the Burke Museum and a review of the artifacts contained at the facility in Seattle.  

Al Ramsay
Market Operations Manager
al.ramsay@westint.com
425 681 4689 

See: http://www.burkemuseum.org/

Western Integrated Systems Opens 3 AIIM New Chapters / Asia Pacifc Rim

Marketing Team - Tuesday, June 17, 2014

As part of our continuing initiative to grow the ECM industry across traditional boundaries in the USA, Western Integrated Systems recently assisted in the formation of 3 new Chapters of the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) (www.aiim.org) in the Asia Pacific Region. The new Chapters, AIIM India, AIIM South Asia, and AIIM Australia New Zealand will contribute to the knowledge and education of end users and position AIIM as the foremost educational resource in the ECM space across the Asia Pacific Rim theatre of operations.

 

AIIM South Asia was opened in January 2014 and focuses on the countries of Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Viet Nam, Indonesia, and the Philippines. The first presentation given on April 23rd covered international ECM standards and digital capture strategies and was hosted by the new President of AIIM South Asia, Mr. Derek Lee, based in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. Speakers included Eugeniya Popova from ABBYY in Moscow Russia and Mr. Robert Blatt from Electronic Image Designers of Los Angeles CA and both met with significant acclaim from the end user community which had registered for the event.

 

More recently, the AIIM India Chapter opened on Thursday June 12th in New Delhi India at the Foreign Correspondent Club and opened to significant acclaim and interest on the part of both the vendor and end user communities. AIIM India will continue to champion and support the mission of ECM growth and education across all of India. Specific photos of the opening of the Chapter can be found at the following Facebook link:

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1499599413604162.1073741833.1491673197730117&type=1

 

Prachi Bhatnaker (Treasurer) and Samir Dhingra (President) at launch of AIIM India - Foreign Correspondent Club Delhi (June 12, 2014)

'

Finally, AIIM Australia New Zealand is under formation and will open July 1st and cover the major cities and markets of Australia and New Zealand, including Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne, Perth, Wellington and Auckland. Already 14 senior industry leaders have joined the AIIM Australia New Zealand Board and they bring a wealth of experience and ideas to the Chapter and will be responsible for the Chapter growth and direction.

More information regarding these specific AIIM Chapter initiatives across Asia Pacific is available from Mr. Al Ramsay / AIIM Chapter Secretary / Asia Pacific. Any Western client, prospect, or business partner is encouraged to contact any of these AIIM Chapters if they anticipate travelling to these locations across the Asia Pacific Rim region.

Al Ramsay

Market Operations Manager

425 681 4689

al.ramsay@westint.com

 

 

Automated Forms Recognition - Observe, Adapt, Overcome

Marketing Team - Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A major Northern California County engaged Western Integrated Systems to streamline the flow of client applications and supporting documents and reduce cycle times for paper documentation. Our investigation revealed that the county employees were struggling with the complexity of managing over 1600 different types of documents in multiple languages. Inefficient mail handling procedures had also proliferated, due to the cost and difficulty of making changes to the old data capture process. The result was a slow and painful data capture process that became less relevant every year.

External forces were also at work. The County staff were also facing unpredictable work volume increases resulting from Healthcare Reform changes and a reoccurring seasonal influx of migrant farm workers. The County needed a data capture system that was not merely accurate, but easily adaptable.

The County chose to update their old data capture process to replace Separator Sheet based, manual document classification with a solution utilizing Kofax Transformation Modules (KTM). They would use KTM to auto-recognize the form types and make the determination automatically of each specific form within a batch of case documents and index them accordingly, without the need to buy pre-printed separator sheets and without the need for manual intervention.

To do this using typical imaging software would be a mammoth task and the resulting process would be out-of-date before it was even deployed. It would have been built on classic deterministic, logic-based software and making any changes would be costly and difficult to both develop and test. Luckily, learning software like KTM produces probabilistic results using training data. KTM adapts based on experiences to enable effective responses to changes which cannot be predicted and planned for. It is very much like the way the human brain adapts to change.

Because Probabilistic Learning Software is changed via training, no big project effort is needed to update it. When new forms arrive, KTM learns to recognize them in the future. Admins simply define how the system is to respond when it sees a document type again. As new "lessons" are added, the system gets more and more accurate. Internal document experts provide the raw material that makes KTM's automatic classification system perform better and better over time. In doing so, they pass on their capability to identify key process documents to KTM. KTM then automates. That raw material consists of good representative samples of documents that are not being auto-classified correctly.

As the number of document types increases in many business processes, it can quickly become impossible for workers to keep up with the changes. However, the County’s new KTM can easily manage a vast number of rapidly changing document types in an assortment of languages. Like most learning environments, the County’s EBSD classification system depends on observations, leading to feedback and testing... that drives decisions which result in action. This is critical because rules don’t learn… and logic doesn’t adapt easily to change.

Thomas Jones

Senior Technical Engineer

Western Integrated Systems

 

 

Confessions of a Road Warrior II / Happy Landings

Marketing Team - Tuesday, April 29, 2014

It was a cool, moonless night in the middle of Fall and I was scheduled to depart from Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport in Taipei Taiwan and make the short 1 hour+ hope/flight from Taipei to Hong Kong.  Not a problem I thought – easy jump and a good way to end up the week, after a long travel week to Korea, Japan, and Taiwan, working with and training clients on the finer nuances of ECM technologies, and now back home to the security of one’s own bed, home cooking, wife, kid, and amah (housekeeper), plus a visit to friends over the weekend.

I boarded the Cathay Pacific 747-400, the biggest plane in the sky at the time and settled in next to two Australians.    Before I left, I noted on the TV screens in the terminal that a typhoon was advancing on Taiwan and Southern China, but really didn’t think much about it, because we seemed well outside of harm’s way, and not even particularly sure what risk a typhoon presented, I settled into my seat for the short 1hr+ flight to Hong Kong.

About half way through the flight, I woke up and I noticed that the plane was really rocking.   It would then pitch up and then pitch down.  Yaw, twisting motion side to side. Control problems!    What the heck is going on?   I looked out the window and I noticed the biggest meanest darkest clouds around us at 30K+ feet and I thought, oh oh, this cannot be good.    Lights flickered in the cabin and then people started to gasp and shriek with each sudden, violent jerk of the plane.

This can’t  be, I said to myself – this 747-400 is the biggest commercial plane in the sky and it’s getting swatted around like it’s a bug, given the awesome power of the elements outside us, the winds, the updrafts, and turbulence.   In these circumstances, I noticed that cabins get very still and quiet, ie. conversation ceases and the assumption that we’re going to survive is no longer taken for granted.   People contemplate their mortality and their trust/faith and reliance in air travel.  

We forged on to Hong Kong.   Now landing in Hong Kong in the 1990’s, before the opening of the new airport, entailed coming in from the south, advancing across the Hong Kong Harbor, then taking a radical right hand turn before the impacting the hills of Kowloon, and then descending base to final from the West to East, just over the apartment buildings of southern Kowloon, where the population density is roughly 75,000 people per square mile and the apartment buildings present a pretty decent challenge to any flight crew.   There was a single landing strip at the old Kai Tak airport, for take offs and landings, which of course simplified the choices for incoming and departing pilots.

Just before landing, more turbulence, more buffeting and the lights of the apartments are looking dangerously close, that I could almost reach out and touch.    This is a wild landing I thought!    At that moment, the pilot aborted the landing, pulled up the nose, and the biggest commercial plane in the sky was returning to the airspace over the South China Sea, to sort out what to do next.

You could cut the tension in the cabin with a knife.   It dawned on everyone that we in fact were riding on air and tonight the air was not cooperating, nor did it ever really have to.  From my flight experience, I knew that the pilot was making a decision to do a go-around or to divert to another airport such as Guangzhou and Shenzhen, where more than likely the conditions would be the same, and fuel management could then become a challenge.

I felt the pilot make a 180 degree turn back to Hong Kong and I thought, OK here we go, he’s going back in for a second try from the opposite direction and he is going to land ‘hot’.   Sure enough we were descending at a rapid rate of speed and thrust and sink rate, somewhat like a fighter onto an aircraft carrier, and he was using speed to create extra lift and offset windshear and turbulence.   

Bang!   The wheels landed hard on the runway and I felt the Captain throw on maximum reverse thrust and apply full brakes as we hurtled down the runway, slowly decelerating.    We’re going to make it I thought as I was watching sheets of water cascading down the runway outside of the window.

The Captain came in on the intercom and thanked us for our patience (very British of you) and also indicated that this was the worst flying weather in his 20+ years of flying.   I said to one of my Australian seat mates, “Thank God for this aircraft, God, and that pilot”.     To which, in typical Aussie wry spirit, he said “Right Mate!   And not necessarily in that order.”  

There was unbelievable overall relief in the cabin and with our flight down, the authorities closed the airport.

The lesson learned here folks that every flight and everyday actually introduces risks and 1) every landing that you can walk away from is a good landing and 2) every new healthy day is a Gift from God and a new opportunity to help customers and business partners -- it should be appreciated as such.

More on the trials and trepidations of flying and some much needed levity in the next blog and your feedback is of course welcome.

 Al Ramsay / Marketing Manager / Western Integrated Systems

Asia Pacific Typhoons

 

 

Records Management - Dental Care

Marketing Team - Monday, April 21, 2014

                                Why is records management like dental care?


If you don’t take time every day to manage it, it costs a lot of money to fix the problems!
There are many sayings to describe the state of records and information management in American business:

  1. “File it and forget it”
  2. “Now that I’ve found it, I’d better make a copy”
  3. “It’s on the back burner”
  4. “It’s in the black hole”
  5. “Storage is cheap”

This mindset leads to HUGE mountains of cabinets, boxes, directories, file shares, etc. of information to go parse when business needs change, such as in an acquisition, divestiture, merger, audit, litigation and/or change in direction due to customer needs.

Managing business records is a matter of having the correct tools, just like in dental care.
Proper dental care requires daily brushing with toothpaste, a toothbrush, dental floss and a rinsing agent (water or mouthwash) and a cleaning by the dental hygienist twice a year.

Records management requires a retention schedule for records based on content, procedures for managing records based on format, annual clean up days and reviews of the retention schedule. Daily tasks include reviewing your email inbox for emails with business related content and preserving them in, at best, a content management application, such as FileBound or PaperVision, or at the very least, printing to a pdf format and saving in a file share. Outlook .pst files are not recommended due to the ease with which links can be broken.

A root canal can cost up to $800, not including restoration. A painful experience, both physically and financially. ARMA International conducted a study in 2009 that found, on average, employees spent the equivalent of $5,000 per year looking for “that email”. Painful.

Even more painful:

  1. Each Gigabyte of data equals approximately 65,000 pages of information
  2. Assume each document to be reviewed is 10 pages
  3. One attorney can review 300 of these documents per day
  4. 65,000/3,000 = 22 days or 176 hrs per gigabyte of data
  5. Assume contracting attorney for discovery review is $150/hr.
  6.  $150 x 176 = $26,400 
  7.  Storage isn’t so cheap anymore, is it?

Next month – inventorying electronic records. 
 


Cheryl Ahrens Young, CIP, CDIA+, CTT+, APMD

HSMG / Western Integrated Systems

Southern California Office

Direct: (714) 997-3700 ext 31

Mobile: (626) 824-1628

Email: Cheryl.Young@hsmg.biz

 

   

Confessions of a Road Warrior / Sailors Guide to Air Travel

Marketing Team - Friday, April 18, 2014

Being a 27 year veteran in the IT/ECM business, I have some unique perspectives to share with clients and colleagues regarding the industry, especially with respect to air travel. Air travel has always been a steady component of my IT/ECM career, starting in 1987 when I was tasked with building the ECM market for Wang Laboratories across the Western US, including Alaska and Hawaii and then progressing to air travel out to Asia Pacific.

Life revolved around the airlines and airline schedules and I would typically visit 2-3 cities per week, to work on RFPs, deliver presentations, help with projects, build vendor alliances and otherwise engage customers and prospects. This later expanded to include Asia Pacific and covered countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Borneo, Australia, New Zealand, Korea, European countries and probably other places and other countries that I don’t specifically recall at this point.

A typical transaction with my boss would consist of “Al, we need you to go to Singapore and work with client X, then head over to Germany and assist with client y project, check in with our folks in London as they need help, get to New York and Plano Texas and then be back by next week”, to which I would say “Um, you’re basically asking me to go around the world, right?”, to which the response was “yes I hope that you OK with that?”

The consequence of all this air travel is very interesting on the human body and I would like to suggest in this blog some basic guidelines and how/to concepts from a seasoned veteran / road warrior.

First, always look behind you when you leave a location, like a taxi, airport/aircraft seat, hotel room or what have you. Do the quick head side turn, the head flick, just like we do when we’re driving and changing lanes, and check the place you have just left, like my hotel room yesterday.

This head flick/last minute check has saved many a road warrior from leaving passports, MP3 players, headphones, cellphones, files and other essential paraphernalia and essential gear of the full-on road warrior. One small head flick can make the difference between a missing or recovering an important file, power cord, cell phone or other tool, which would otherwise be lost to eternity and create embarrassment, inconvenience, or unnecessary replacement costs.

Second, especially with international travel, put a note on the side table before you go to sleep, as to exactly where you are located. Typically the seasoned road warrior after a trip to Sydney, Auckland, Wellington, and Seoul in one week, wakes up in a panic and can’t remember where he/she is located. It’s the creepiest feeling and it’s due to all the time zone changes and impact on the body. That note on the table is very refreshing and reassurance and inspires confidence that the body knows where the body is located when that person awakes on that specific morning.

Third, take the stairs whenever possible. The body when travelling doesn’t get sufficient exercise and also is exposed to excess calories and roadie food which is typically in abundant proportions and perhaps one or two extra drinks on the road.    Remember all those sumptuous buffets and catered lunches from generous business partners?   Bodies are not necessarily meant to live in this calorie regimen and there is a distinct absence of exercise during air travel, typically associated with an expanding waist line or girth.

The answer? Simple – throw those bags over your shoulder and whenever/wherever possible take the stairs and not the escalator. Then see if you can outpace the people going up or down the escalator. (This also caters to the fundamental competitive nature of IT/ECM people). Test your breathing at the end of 50-60 stairs and feel the reward for quitting smoking or never taking up the pernicious habit.

I’ll have some other future insights into air travel in future blogs, especially the 2-3 flights where I nearly didn’t make it home, giving credence and reinforcing the ultimate road warrior concept, that, in air travel, any landing you can walk away from, is a good landing.

Thanks for listening and I hope this blog today assists you with your future air travel.

Al Ramsay
Marketing Manager / Business Analyst / Road Warrior
Western Integrated Systems


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