Abhishek Sarda

Abhishek Sarda has over 13 years of experience in driving managed services business for telecom and IT/ITeS organizations in various capacities. At Xerox India, he is responsible for marketing the Document Outsourcing Services portfolio of Xerox.

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Are You Focusing Only on One Half of Your Digital Strategy?

Xerox, the iconic photostat brand encourages printing less – “How can you hope to pull down paper-based barriers if you don’t understand where, when and why all this printing is happening?”, they ask.

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It’s curious to note that an organization’s obsession to deliver “customer first” services often leads to ignoring the same level of transformation internally.

Imagine if you offer the latest - most differentiated and competitive offerings in digital offerings to your customers. But, internally your operations are badly weighed down by not only manual but also highly paper-driven processes. To add to the woes, you may not even be aware of many such processes existing in your business today!

Not only does this undermine productivity by perpetuating slow and expensive manual processes, it’s also wasteful e.g. easily half of the paper we print at work is used once, then thrown away. If companies aim to transform into a strong digital entity, it is crucial to free the organization from paper-based and manual processes – setting the stage for future success.

In its narrowest sense, true ‘digital transformation’ means ‘going paperless’. More broadly, it means re-imagining and re-engineering the way businesses operate. In between, there’s a spectrum of other meanings for digital transformation. None is ‘wrong’ or ‘right’, because ‘transformation’ is so relative to where you are today; much depends on where businesses are starting from and what they wish to achieve.

Many organizations today initiate digitizing before the data is in; automate without first analysing where they currently stand. In short, they’re failing to make a level-headed assessment of paper use and the flow of documents before mindlessly throwing themselves into the digital race.

What benefits do organizations expect to derive? Today, the main drivers for digitisation are cost, information security, agility, speed of service, data management as well as gaining a competitive edge over others. For example, if an HR manager prints out résumés that have been submitted electronically, works through them on paper to make acceptance and rejection decisions, then enters those decisions into the recruitment system to trigger the next step in the process — and throws the printed résumés away – resulting in redundant print costs.

Reflecting on our personal lives, it’s easy to believe that we live in a digital age. But at work, paper-based processes are still the rule. According to a recent Microsoft survey, 57 percent believe they still do not have a full digital strategy in place. In comparison, 68% in India believe they have a full digital strategy in place today.

But the pressure’s on!

Businesses today have identified processes that would benefit from intelligent automation technologies. And in two years, most expect to be working in digital enterprises, compared with less than half today.

Research and experience tell us that perhaps the most risky part of a document process might be the people who use it. Knowledge workers and other employees mean well, but they’re human. They make mistakes. They find shortcuts, so they can do more with less. And sometimes, they take information security decisions that put the firm at risk. Information is not only in binary format, it has many mediums today, including paper based documents.

Information security affects most industries – healthcare, finance, government, education, and more. According to another IT research study, 70 percent of IT professionals believe the use of unauthorized programs resulted in as many as half of their companies’ data loss incidents. This belief was most common in the United States (74 percent), Brazil (75 percent), and India (79 percent).

Keeping information safe takes awareness and effort at all levels, from end users to leaders who create the security strategies to the vendors who help deploy them.

To summarize, organisations are missing a major trick to deliver on the expected benefits of digitization and they are not looking with the same conviction within the organization as they are for their actions in the market place. You may want to wonder about the following: Most documents today start their life on a computer, a tablet, a smartphone — devices that offer easy sharing and storage. Why would anyone print them? Yet they do.

Are these actions having implications on your speed of getting things done? Is it keeping your business information secure? If these questions get you thinking, here’s the first step to action: How can you hope to pull down paper-based barriers if you don’t understand where, when and why all this printing is happening?

By analysing employee print habits and associated processes, businesses can see hidden opportunities for digitization, where paper use is unnecessarily high and slowing down the speed to market. Without such insight, all you can do is guess for the best candidates to process digitization or workflow automation. And guesses are never as reliable as well-analysed data.

Once you have the data, you uncover the candidates for other half of your Digital Strategy!

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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