Digitising the economy – what businesses need to understand before starting the journey

On 1 March 2017, the UK government unveiled a new digital strategy intended to help the country develop a world-leading digital economy that benefits the UK’s government, businesses and citizens. The announcement was hailed by many as a much-needed impetus to boost business prospects, especially with the country’s upcoming exit from the European Union and impact it might (or might not) have on the economy. Some commentators have asked for more clarity and for the government to provide further detail, which points to the general mystery that tends to surround digitisation – in fact, 24 per cent (practically one in four) executives are still unsure why their organisations are placing such a great emphasis on digital technology.  

It is too easy for conversations about digitisation to be consumed by the technologies underpinning the initiative, or treated as something for the IT department to grapple with rather than the business decision and process improvement it truly is. With its implications on customer acquisition, retention and satisfaction, business-wide buy-in is essential to ensure success. Right from the start, businesses must pay attention to what truly makes a difference to their customers and staff – what experiences do both groups have when they engage with the company? 

Starting digital benefits everyone

Putting the user at the centre of the experience you provide is essential to delivering a good one. Regardless of whether the user is old or new, business can’t afford to provide anything less than an excellent experience. From onboarding to closing a deal, businesses must invest in delivering an experience that reflects positively on the business. But this is not always the case.

Customer onboarding remains one of the few business processes yet to be fully digitised. Some businesses have already tried digital onboarding with low value, high volume use cases but we are now seeing growing interest for mobile onboarding around high value transactions – typically mediated scenarios with more complex workflows. It’s because of the emergence of onboarding platforms like e-signatures that can handle sophisticated workflows and transactions, and provide the ability to connect to popular back-end technology systems, that we are seeing the shift to automate more complex onboarding scenarios.

One look at the half-digital process of printing, verifying, scanning and uploading documents and it is easy to see the inconvenience this can cause to users. Not only is the need to print out documents a burden, exposure to errors also presents an issue that could cost businesses significant time and money down the line. On the other hand, a digitised process not only presents users with the choice of how to engage with your business – web, mobile, call centre or in person – it also provides safeguards to ensure that processes are appropriately completed before things proceed.

The real cost of paper goes beyond paper

Paper-based processes seem easy and safe but behind the façade is a series of hidden expenses and unrecognised potential that can be realised from serving users digitally. By examining the paper trail and assigning hard numbers to each step eliminated by going digital, making the case for digitisation becomes easier. Steps like printing documents for review and verifying signatures add deceptively significant costs to the business process. One leading global insurer, for example, saved $10 per new business transaction by eliminating paper ($2), service ($6) and scanning ($2). When you consider the number of transactions and the number of staff managing those transactions, the magnitude of this cost becomes increasingly clear.

For one Canadian bank, digitisation meant saving two to three hours per week per advisor. Across the bank’s 8,000 advisors, that savings translated to about 24,000 hours per week in time saved. For another Canadian bank, delivering a straight-through digital onboarding process increased efficiency by 40 per cent, with an 80 per cent improvement across the audit function. Customers are now able to search, select and open an account on their smartphones in under eight minutes.

We are living in a digital world

When you consider the generation of digital natives that are becoming more visible and influential, the need to provide a truly digital experience becomes even more necessary. Providing a digital experience brings processes into the modern age, improves the user experience and enables real choice on how an entire generation interacts with the businesses looking to serve them. And by embracing best of breed in digital technology, business can achieve this digital transformation quickly, effectively and see a positive impact on the user experience.

Digital technology is more ubiquitous and secure than ever and businesses of all shapes and sizes would be hard pressed to ignore the need to provide services designed primarily with the user’s digital experience in mind. The best thing for businesses is to choose technology that can be built as enterprise solutions and reused across all lines of business and processes, essentially a “build once, deploy anywhere” model. This simplified approach allows businesses to take on digital transformation at a pace that works for them.

The digitisation process is not always as intricate and daunting as it can seem, especially when businesses understand the tangible benefits that come with it. Once this is done, a strong business case can be built to drive the change and put businesses in a great position to capture new clients, and build the sort of loyalty the yields results. Digitisation truly is a gateway to growth and efficiency and seeing the UK government taking the lead in doing so is encouraging and a message to other countries.

Tommy Petrogiannis, President, eSignLive by VASCO
Image Credit: Ditty_about_summer