Image by: Wavebreakmedia Ltd, ©2017 Getty Images

A new year brings new resolutions. While digital transformation has been a buzzword for many years, this year, organizations must truly turn their attention to digitization, because consumers will no longer do business with a company trapped in the past. The digitization journey has many steps and checkpoints to ensure success; however, the first step is the most important.

If your organization’s goal is to communicate with customers via digital channels and use digital data and information to inform business processes, the most logical place to start is at the source of the information—documents, often, printed ones. Thanks to technology, there are a lot of opportunities to be less dependent on paper, and once you’ve successfully digitized some of your paper-laden tasks and processes, you can explore the potential for more wide-ranging change projects to automate and simplify key business workflows.

If you’re ready to get a handle on digital transformation and want to take your enterprise productivity to the next level, here are three questions (and answers) to guide your strategy:

1. How Can We Make Smarter Decisions?

Knowledge capital is the currency of business today, and organizations that leverage their critical information effectively hold a significant competitive advantage. As this knowledge capital grows, so does the challenge of unlocking the trapped information. Without proper management, it simply becomes lost in the fray.

The key? Analytics. It all starts with understanding how documents move through your organization, the processes that carry them, and how workers use them. Your documents have a lot to tell you— they hold more than just facts and figures. Ultimately, documents are intertwined with business processes, and the efficiency of the latter depends upon that of the former.

Analytics can point to specific steps for savings, efficiency, and digitization opportunities. With this knowledge, enterprises can identify printing peaks to adjust resources accordingly, achieve better control over printing, plan for future needs, and identify processes that are candidates for digital transformation.

Analytics go way beyond printing and documents. They help simplify and automate workflows and reshape processes so they’re truly aligned to business priorities. Furthermore, analytics offer insights on customer likes, dislikes, and preferences, enabling organizations to better adjust customer communication and foster long-lasting relationships.

2. What Is the Best Way to Get Work Done?

If your processes are inefficient or taking longer than they should, it’s time to look into a workflow automation solution. Enterprises today are expected to adapt faster to market changes, work more efficiently, and access data immediately. Paper-centric processes are often outdated, inefficient, and make it difficult to stay agile.

Think about it: There is always that one step in a paper process that seems to bottleneck, or that one task that takes longer than it should because of paper. Workflow solutions help automate processes so you can eliminate inefficiencies, improve collaboration, and boost productivity—all of which can help give you a competitive edge. Workflow solutions also allow you to enforce standards to meet changing industry regulations, go mobile, and improve customer service.

In healthcare, for example, instead of faxing, mailing, and inputting patient information manually, providers can simply scan patient documents using a custom app, select a provider’s address from the national directory, and click send, reducing time to share critical information and improving care coordination.

As data breaches continue to rise across all industries, workflow automation solutions help keep critical data in the right hands by digitizing documents, enabling secure sharing, and creating automated processes with audit trails. Content remains in a central repository, yet accessible to mobile workers, and enterprises can enact rules for how and when content can be accessed.

3. How Do We Attract New Customers and Keep Current Ones?

The adage, “It’s much easier to lose a customer than gain one,” rings ever true in this digital age. Today’s customers have access to more information than ever before; they make decisions about a product or brand through their own research and by analyzing opinions and insights from peers and industry experts. The buyer's journey has changed, and every interaction and touchpoint influences a customer’s perception and willingness to do business with your company.

Today, customers expect relevant and timely information that is personalized to them and delivered over their channel of choice—direct mail, email, or social media—to create an effective, memorable experience. By using technology to automate communication throughout the customer's journey, companies build and increase brand loyalty and improve customer experience. Digitizing this process and using workflow automation solutions to improve efficiency also gives a company access to a variety of data to make better data-driven decisions and improve customer retention.

Consider the banking industry: It continues to be one of the most paper-bound industries, leading to repetitive and error-prone data entry, hard-to-find documents, and a lack of secure and auditable records. Workflow automation solutions help banks digitize and automate timely, paper-based processes, helping speed up new client onboarding, reduce fraud, and improve reporting.

Ready, Set, Go

In 2017, the big winner will be the enterprise operating not only with new digital tools but with integrated, agile technology and smart process applications that combine data and information across multiple platforms to streamline routine transactions and change the way businesses interact with their customers—transforming how business gets done.

This is, of course, just the beginning. I’d like to hear what else you are doing to make progress on your digital transformation journey. Leave a comment below!

Wasim A. Khan is the Head of Xerox Global Workflow Automation unit and the General Manager of the Xerox DocuShare software business.

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