IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

The Cold Hard Truth about Digital Transformation

While most companies are not far along on the road to digital workflows, channel pros can help clients make the transition with these simple tips. By Wouter Koelewijn

IN THE WORLD OF IT, it is difficult to avoid hearing about digital transformation. Analysts are talking about it and CEOs are interested in its lofty promise of improving productivity and lowering costs. The hype around this new concept is high, yet very few companies are far along in transitioning to digital processes. Smart channel pros should realize that the cold hard truth is most organizations are not even halfway there.

In fact, analyst firm IDC says most organizations are only at the second of five stages. That doesn’t mean the technology isn’t there. On the contrary, it is. Much of what’s needed has been around for more than five years, according to CapGemini, a consulting, technology, and outsourcing firm headquartered in Paris.

Wouter Koelewijn

IDC defines digital transformation along a maturation curve in five stages, as it pertains to the paperless office. Ad hoc is the first, manual stage in which paper-centric workflows dominate. The second step on the curve is opportunistic, a basic level in which image-only scanning and capture is deployed and connected to content management systems and repositories; data for the workflow is manually extracted and input. The third, fourth, and fifth stages of digital transformation and the paperless office are intelligent, connected, and optimized.

The fifth stage, optimized, reaches true digital transformation. It is characterized by automation across all departments, advanced workflows, and use of what IDC calls “innovation accelerators” such as IoT, cognitive systems, next-generation security, and artificial intelligence in the form of robotics. Many experts indicate that printing and document management are ripe for this kind of disruption, which makes sense, but the pace of the transformation is slower than in some other industries.

Advice on Digital Workflows
If most companies are only at the second stage, what does that mean and how should they proceed? Here are three tips for advancing customers to a more intelligent digital workflow:

  1. Team effort is golden. IDC and AIIM, the Silver Spring, Md.-based Association for Information and Image Management, have both cited human factors, not technology or cost, as the main impediment to going fully digital. Make sure the whole team—from worker bees to senior executives—is on board with what is to be achieved, expectations, and how the transformation will evolve.
  2. Keep it simple. Understand the client’s complete workflow, ask for management and employee input, and start with repetitive paper-based processes.
  3. Make the workflow smart. Here’s just one example: Opt for scan workflows that have evolved into more automated workflows that capture, process, and deliver based on predefined configurations. These modern, text-based document scans can now be searched via keywords versus those that produce images only. Scans that can be searched can make find and retrieval much easier and faster, reducing time and costs spent on this activity.

Channel pros should keep these tips in mind to help move clients and partners into true digital transformation that yields productivity and costs savings. Clients will show their thanks via repeat business and an openness to adopt more modern technologies.

WOUTER KOELEWIJN is a member of AIIM and senior vice president and managing director of the scanning division at Y Soft Corp., a provider of digital transformation tools based in the Czech Republic.

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