Majority of Organizations Miss Opportunities to Leverage ‘Dark Data’ According to New Study from Parascript and AIIM

May 8, LONGMONT, Colo. – Parascript ®, LLC, a leading document capture company, and AIIM, an advocate and supporter of information professionals, are announcing important findings in the area of dark data and how technology can help businesses leverage critical information not being captured, such as signatures and other handwritten data.  The study, “Shedding light on the dark data in your document capture processes,” finds that while the majority of companies realize the importance of dark data, they are not fully capitalizing on opportunities to capture and use that data for information governance and other purposes.

Dark data – information that is available and not utilized – is prevalent on forms and documents, especially in the form of handwriting, according to the study.  Forty percent of survey respondents said half or more of their inbound forms have handwritten data fields, and 55% said signatures are on half or more of these documents. The majority of respondents indicated that signatures are valuable, as a critical part of the information governance process:  86% of respondents in the study indicated that signature presence, validation and lookup would be useful for process enablement or discovery.

Other key findings of the study:

  • 44% said they would find it extremely or very useful to recognize hand-written keywords on open-ended form fields on business documents, for use in tagging or metadata correction.
  • 25% indicated they have processes that require signatures to be matched and verified.
  • 70% of respondents indicated keyword spotting would be quite useful – for tagging, routing, discovery and redaction; identifying keyword matches in hand-written reports or notes, or search tagging/metadata creation.
  • The majority of respondents said it would be useful to detect the presence of hand amendments and annotations on forms for contracts (over 65%); fraud forgery or tamper detection (60%); per page contract signatures (about 65%); and delivery comments (over 50%).

However, many companies are not taking advantage of this unstructured, untagged and untapped “dark” data –  defined by analyst firm Gartner Group as the information organizations collect, process and store during regular business activities, but generally fail to use for other purposes, such as for analytics, business relationships and direct monetizing. In fact, only 6 percent of companies surveyed currently use ICR (Intelligent Character Recognition) or unconstrained handwriting applications that allow fonts and different styles of handwriting to be recognized.  This, despite the fact that: 35% of ICR users from the survey report a payback period of 12 months or less on ICR applications; and 55% see ROI within 18 months.  Even those not yet using the technology say it would be advantageous: respondents, overall, indicated an average productivity improvement of 31% was likely if recognition of hand-written text could be automated; 28% said they would expect a 50% or more improvement.

“Dark data is prevalent on forms and applications in industries across the board. While most companies recognize the presence and importance of this illusive, yet valuable information, particularly when it comes to handwritten fields, many are still not leveraging it, and instead information is either being ignored, or manually entered, leading to errors or loss,” said Don Dew, Parascript’s Director of Marketing. “We see this as a huge opportunity for companies to look to intelligent recognition technologies to capture and better leverage handwritten information, automate workflow approvals for signatures, classify documents for tagging and routing, and, potentially, unlock a gold mine of untapped information.”

Results from the study were taken from a survey carried out between February 14, 2013 and March 3, 2014, with 267 responses from individual members of the AIIM community surveyed using a Web-based tool. Invitations to take the survey were sent via email to a selection of AIIM’s 80,000 registered individuals.

The study can be easily downloaded at

About Parascript, LLC

A leading document capture company, Parascript develops solutions that read information from forms and documents.  The company’s advanced recognition technology processes virtually any document format and text type (handprint, machine print, cursive, marks and more), providing fast, reliable access to information and transactions. Fortune 500 companies, postal operators (including the U.S. Postal Service), major government and financial institutions rely on Parascript software, which is distributed through its OEM and value added reseller networks, including partners such as IBM, EMC, Bell and Howell, Fiserv, Selex Elsag, Lockheed Martin, NCR, Siemens, and Burroughs.

About AIIM 

AIIM has been an advocate and supporter of information professionals for nearly 70 years. The association’s mission is to ensure that information professionals understand the current and future challenges of managing information assets in an era of social, mobile, cloud and big data. Founded in 1943, AIIM builds on a strong heritage of research and member service. Today, AIIM is a global, non-profit organization that provides independent research, education and certification programs to information professionals. AIIM represents the entire information management community, with programs and content for practitioners, technology suppliers, integrators and consultants.