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Mailroom must get smart

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By Dana Eitzen, corporate and marketing communications executive at Canon South Africa.

While digital mailrooms have been around for many years, they are sometimes still a source of mystery. But, in an age where all businesses are looking for cost-effective, high-impact digital technologies to make them more competitive, the role of the digital mailroom continues to gain importance.

The introduction of the digital mailroom was the next logical step in the move towards digitalisation. Before the digital age, businesses were burdened by a clunky and awkward process when it came to handling mail. Sacks full of letters would be directed to the mailroom in the organisation, where it would be sifted, sorted and then distributed at regular intervals by people from the mail room throughout the business.

On the face of it, this was a straightforward process. Apart from human errors in the system, where letters were misplaced or lost, the process of receiving mail was usually successful. However, there was no record of the letters once they were received. The receivers would usually extract the relevant information and then either dispose of them or file them locally. It made it very difficult for the business to gather centralised intelligence about its key contacts and correspondence. What’s more, it was labour intensive, slow and inefficient. The potential of the digital mailroom was born.

Businesses drivers behind digital mailrooms

It is almost impossible to find an industry that has not been affected by digital transformation. The desire to become digital-first has also become the driver behind the evolution of the digital mailroom. What began with scanning documents to ensure there was a digital record, quickly progressed to improving business connectivity. A business’s overall performance is now dependent on its ability to manage it communications across every channel – phone calls, instant messages, emails, physical letters and new channels as they continue to evolve.

With digital transformation comes the proliferation of data. Technologies like cloud have meant that data can not only be stored, but also harnessed for business insight. Businesses can instantly assess who has been contacting them across every channel and address any queries or concerns in the most appropriate way. This can be hugely important for customer service queries and in turn its reputation.

However, this data revolution has brought with it a growing spotlight on the way companies manage their information, protect user’s data and provide security for confidential business information. Prior to digital, a wrongly distributed letter was simply regarded as a potentially embarrassing, but unavoidable consequence of the handling process. Now, following the introduction of EU wide directives such as GDPR, it can lead to major fines. Confidential information reaching the wrong person can also reveal business secrets, further underlining the importance of getting it right. With this in mind, more businesses are investing in digital mailrooms to reduce human error and in turn, reduce the threat to compliance.

Click here to read about the new approach to digital mailrooms.

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Jaguar drives dictionary definition

Jaguar is calling for the Oxford English Dictionary and Oxford Dictionaries to update their online definition of the word ‘car’

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Jaguar is spearheading a campaign for the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) and Oxford Dictionaries (OxfordDictionaries.com) to change their official online definitions of the word ‘car’.

The I-PACE, Jaguar’s all-electric performance SUV, is the 2019 World Car of the Year and European Car of the Year. However, strictly speaking, the zero-emission vehicle isn’t defined as a car.

The OED, the principal historical dictionary of the English language, defines a ‘car’ in its online dictionary as: ‘a road vehicle powered by a motor (usually an internal combustion engine) designed to carry a driver and a small number of passengers, and usually having two front and two rear wheels, esp. for private, commercial, or leisure use’.

Whereas the current definition of a ‘car’ on Oxford Dictionaries.com, a collection of dictionary websites produced by Oxford University Press (OUP), the publishing house of the University of Oxford, is: ‘A road vehicle, typically with four wheels, powered by an internal combustion engine and able to carry a small number of people.’

To remedy the situation, Jaguar has submitted a formal application to the OED and OxfordDictionaries.com to have the definitions updated to include additional powertrains, including electric vehicles (EV).

David Browne, head of Jaguar Land Rover’s naming committee, said: “A lot of time and thought is put into the name of any new vehicle or technology to ensure it is consumer friendly, so it’s surprising to see that the definition of the car is a little outdated. We are therefore inviting the Oxford English Dictionary and the Oxford Dictionaries to update its online classification to reflect the shift from traditional internal combustion engines (ICE) towards more sustainable powertrains.”

The Oxford English Dictionary is widely regarded as the accepted authority on the English language. It is an unsurpassed guide to the meaning, history, and pronunciation of 600,000 words – past and present – from across the English-speaking world.

Jaguar unveiled the I-PACE, its first all-electric vehicle, last year to deliver sustainable sports car performance, next-generation artificial intelligence (AI) technology and five-seat SUV practicality.

Featuring a state-of-the-art 90kWh lithium-ion battery, two Jaguar-designed motors and a bespoke aluminium structure, the I-PACE is capable of 0-100km/h in 4.8 seconds and a range of up to 470km (WLTP).

While both the Oxford English Dictionary and Oxford Dictionaries review the application, Jaguar is encouraging people to get behind the campaign by asking how the word ‘car’ should be defined. Contact Jaguar on TwitterFacebook and Instagram using #RedefineTheCar with your thoughts.

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How Internet blocks visually impaired

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Picture: Amelie-Benoist / Getty Images

A pervasive “digital divide” inhibits blind people from accessing the Internet, according to a study conducted by Nucleus Research for Deque Systems, an accessibility software company specialising in digital equality. This results in visits to websites being abandoned, further resulting in a missed market opportunity for the websites in question.

The study, which conducted in-depth interviews with 73 U.S. adults who are blind or have severe visual impairments, revealed that two-thirds of the Internet transactions initiated by people with vision impairments end in abandonment because the websites they visit aren’t accessible enough. Ninety percent of those surveyed said they regularly call a site’s customer service to report inaccessibility and have no choice but to visit another, more accessible site to make the transaction.

The Nucleus study also scanned hundreds of websites in the e-commerce, news and information and government categories and found that 70 percent had certain “critical blockers” that rendered them inaccessible to visually impaired users.

“Besides the moral dilemma and legal risk, businesses with inaccessible websites are missing a huge revenue opportunity by ignoring an untapped market,” says Preety Kumar, CEO of Deque Systems. “Among internet retailers specifically, two-thirds of the top ten online retailers had serious accessibility issues, meaning they are leaving $6.9 billion in potential North American e-commerce revenues on the table.”

Web accessibility refers to the ability of people with disabilities to independently gather information, complete transactions, or communicate on the Internet. Most visually impaired Internet users rely on assistive technologies like screen readers or screen magnifiers to render sites perceivable and operable. However, these assistive technologies require that websites be built with accessibility in mind and optimized to interface with assistive technology, in order to convey information in an accurate and understandable manner.

Critical accessibility blockers can vary across industries. In e-commerce, problems include issues like missing form and button labels (thereby making forms or the “checkout” button invisible without context). Amazon, Best Buy and Target were found to be accessibility leaders in this space. Additionally, the study found:

  • Eight out of ten news sites had significant accessibility issues.
  • Seven out of ten blind persons reported being unable to access information and services through government websites, including Medicare’s site.
  • Fewer than one in three websites have clear contact information or instructions for blind persons to seek help if they encounter accessibility issues, meaning many have low levels of success in reporting and solving these problems.

“A focus on accessibility needs to be a core part of the website design and development process,” continues Kumar. “Considering accessibility as early as the conception phase, and proactively building and testing sites for accessibility as they move towards production, is significantly more effective than remediating it later, helping organizations save significant time and resources while avoiding unnecessary customer grievances.”

To download the report, visit: https://accessibility.deque.com/nucleus-accessibility-research-2019

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