Revive that New Year’s resolution to go digital – before your competitor does

We’re three months into the year and for many of us, our New Year’s Resolutions have already started to wane. If you’re a UK CIO resolved to adopt digital technology, the first few months of the year is a good time to take stock and remind yourself of what it will take to meet your goals in 2017 and beyond.

Remember the findings from Xerox’s Digitisation at Work which predicted that only nine per cent of key business operation processes will run on paper in the next two years?

Whilst many organisations recognise the benefits of embracing digital, the reality is that the weight of paper-based processes is still slowing many of us down. 

Many businesses recognise that a more digital enterprise landscape creates a leaner and more agile organisation, not to mention the financial and time savings it can offer. However, many organisations are not quite ready to part with the millions of pieces of paper which are printed across the globe each year, despite the fact that the majority of this paper will be used once, then thrown or filed away.

So what does this mean for the future? Put simply, businesses must make digital transformation a priority in 2017 or risk lagging behind their competitors. 

What’s the rush?

Regardless of industry, UK customers have limited tolerance for manual, paper-based forms and processes that slow them down. Customers want and expect access to their information to be instant, automated, mobile, and secure. Anything less will feel slow, old fashioned and frustrating.

In a business setting, an over-reliance on paper counteracts efforts to automate, ensuring efficiencies and savings. Automation requires the availability and reliability of data from all business units, in a digital format. Having small, isolated pockets of automation across a business doesn’t equate to a digital enterprise. 

Organisations leading the way when it comes to digital transformation have made it easier for customers to recognise those falling behind. Frustrated with companies that cannot keep up with the evolution of digital business, loyalty can shift, prompting customers to seek out alternate organisations that can better meet their needs. 

With so much potential for positive change, how can businesses move more quickly towards fully digitised processes and start to make good on the promises of digital transformation?

Arming your workforce with digital technology

The always-connected, digital workforce needs secure access to contextualised information from anywhere – whether they’re working from home or travelling. Work is no longer limited to an office and it is not strictly conducted between the hours of 9am and 5pm. For this reason, companies must address mobile access and printing, as well as any concerns around security in supporting bring your own device (BYOD) policies. This will ensure core business processes can function regardless of the employees’ location.

Taking that first step

Going digital is not achievable overnight. It is often a gradual change — one which becomes easier once the first step is in place. Managed print services (MPS) can be a great springboard to bigger digital changes because it transforms the way work is done. 

Think about it. Many essential documents still are managed and processed with paper and printing. It’s common for businesses to replicate its internal approach to paper in its interaction with customers, slowing down even more processes.

To begin the transition, it’s worth considering the following steps:

  • Understand: Establish how and where you use paper today, and identify what you could change. One of the biggest surprises in the Digitisation at Work report was the finding that whilst many organisations are taking great strides towards being a fully digitised enterprise when it comes to processes, many are missing the most important step that sets businesses up for success – the upfront analysis and assessment of how paper processes are currently used.
  • Educate: Set targets, make your case, and change user behaviours. With greater levels of analysis and assessment before businesses make the full transition into digitised processes, handoffs between human employees and automated bots in a given workflow will become increasingly seamless.
  • Execute: Replace key functions and processes with digital equivalents. In the digital age, there are many automated processes which businesses can scale quickly to take on additional work. Inevitably, we’ll see more businesses use software which can mimic humans by manipulating data, triggering responses and processing transactions.
  • Improve: Use data and automation to take your transformation to the next level. Going forward, we should expect to see more businesses take advantage of systems which are more tightly coupled and deliver real time status updates with greater work tracking across various processes.

2017 and beyond

Once you have successfully switched some of your tasks and processes from paper to digital, you can begin to explore the potential for more widespread change projects to automate and simplify important business workflows.

With every small change, you will find that your company increasingly will challenge the way it works so you are less dependent on paper. In time, this will free your organisation to focus on more high-value activities that drive customer satisfaction and top-line performance.

In 2017, future success will largely depend on how well your business adopts digital technology and promises to be the year in which businesses take the steps above to move beyond small, isolated pockets of automation and identify new opportunities to implement more comprehensive strategies and tools that have the potential to truly impact the entire business. With so much potential for positive change, more businesses will make the jump into fully digitised processes in order to reap the benefits.

Over the next twelve months, challenge traditional thinking and look in unexpected places for hidden opportunities to streamline and add momentum to your business. If you put off your digital journey, you put customer loyalty at risk, because they will seek out other companies that provide a stronger digital experience.

Andrew Morrison, Managing Director, Xerox UK & Ireland
Image Credit: Ditty_about_summer