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In a recent AIIM Industry Watch report titled “Improving Business Operations in 2017: Capturing Vital Content,” we took a look at how and where businesses are focusing their efforts to improve business processes, specifically in relation to the capture of vital business information. From an inbound perspective, 42% percent report their operations "are somewhat ad hoc at best," and they struggle to match up paper with their electronic information. In addition, 36% of respondents say they process paper separately from their electronic information. They also report that they print their electronic inbound information and then file or process it alongside their paper.
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The obvious question here is, "Why?"
Typically, it boils down to the human factor. This same report finds that people still prefer to have paper in their processes because it seems easier to read, mark up, or handle. Additionally, there is a lack of support by senior management to move away from paper, even though most information is born digital. It is not really a matter of technology failure.
Consider ThisTechnology advancements are enabling businesses to move beyond traditional boundaries, but the human factor hinders progress toward a digital environment. Most discussions I have with folks indicate that the technology is capable, but there is concern about ease of use of the interface. The implication being that these tools seem different and don't work or feel the same as the paper-based work environment. If the digital interface looked like the physical work environment, could adoption be achieved quicker? For example, if employees use folders today with color tabs, could we make the graphical interface look similar?
What to Think AboutWhen it comes to making changes in the way we work, there is a tendency to switch or add technologies, expecting the workforce to naturally embrace it. Yet, in many cases, this does not happen. When we plan for change, it must include process and people. It must consider how the work is done and the interface connecting people, processes, and information.
When it all comes together in a way that feels familiar, the transition is much smoother. When everything is so different and unrecognizable that it causes total confusion, people will resist and return to their old ways of working to get things done.
In My ViewWe can make significant progress, but it requires a team effort that must consider the user. There can't be an "ivory tower" mentality in building the information ecosystem and business processes. Technology must support the workforce, not alienate it.
There are many opportunities out there to enhance the way we work, and many opportunities that are missed. These missed opportunities are all the competition needs to take the lead. Take control of your business processes, but remember to do so holistically. People, process, and technology are the winning trilogy.
Bob Larrivee is Vice President and Chief Analyst of Market Intelligence at AIIM and an internationally recognized subject matter expert and thought leader with over 30 years of experience in the fields of information and process management. Follow him on Twitter @BobLarrivee.