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I recently read a provocative article by Tom Monahan in Fortune magazine called “Revving Up Your Corporate RPMs.”
The speed of business is getting slower, not faster
What struck me was his conclusion that rather than speeding up, business is slowing down. Decision-making is taking longer, and project completion times are extending. Some of it is bureaucracy; some is risk aversion and regulation; and in some cases, it is due to cost cutting. Even too much collaboration (too many people involved on a project) can be counterproductive. Monahan states that between 2010 and 2015:
- The average time to hire a new employee went from 42 to 63 days.
- The average time to complete an office information technology (IT) project increased by more than a month to over 10 months (from start to delivery).
- Sales cycles are taking 22% longer, partly because two buyers have turned into five buyers.
Of course, we can’t help but notice the impact that increased regulation and financial reporting is having on business profitability. In addition, who can’t help but note the increasing number of people who are copied on an email or invited to a meeting, just so they can be informed and kept in the loop?
Closer to home is the general slowdown in mail delivery. As the United States Postal Service (USPS) works aggressively to control costs in light of declining volumes, the percentage of mail delivered on time has decreased. In order to improve performance against standards, the standards are lowered.
Technology to the rescue: e-delivery and e-billing
In contrast, electronic delivery and e-billing run counter to these trends. By its very nature, e-delivery allows businesses to deliver mail more efficiently and quickly than through the Postal Service and overnight services, like FedEx.
Most large businesses have offered and promoted electronic delivery and e-billing for a decade or more, and the results have been mixed. Some have achieved adoption rates approaching 50%, for at least some documents, while others are stuck in the mid-teens. It often depends on the relationship a business has with its customers (e.g., arm’s length like utilities or more intimate, such as some insurance companies). Maybe even more important is a company’s focus on programs, contests and incentives. My insurance company offers a two percent discount for e-delivery, a costly but effective incentive.
The trick, of course, is to make the customer experience for e-delivery and electronic payments better than the paper experience. We’re all about, “What’s in it for me? Who cares if e-billing saves the biller money if it’s more work for me?” The rapid growth of and use of smart mobile devices and enhancements to mobile wallets (e.g., Apple Wallet and Android Pay) make the user experience and convenience much more compelling for customers to make the switch and finally give up their paper.
With mobile devices, you can see your bill anywhere, anytime and, just as importantly, pay it right away and forget about it. FiServe stated in their recently released report “Mobile Billing and Payment: Consumer Preferences and Billers’ Strategic Response” that in 2015, 33% of households paid at least one bill on their mobile device, up from 27% in 2014. Why?
- It was easy to do (47%)
- Convenient (44%)
- Not near a computer (42%)
- Saves time (41%)
- Anytime access (40%)
Richard Rosen is the chief executive officer of The RH Rosen Group. The RH Rosen Group works with clients to reduce costs and improve cash flow through paper reduction and process improvements. Contact him at RichR@RHRosenGroup.com.