Article | June 27, 2017

Digital Transformation: 5 Stages To Being Fully Optimized

Old Document Conversion

By Wouter Koelewijn, SVP and Managing Director Of The Y Soft Scanning Division

The term “Digital Transformation” is de rigueur: it is often highlighted in news stories and ongoing corporate communications globally and is even the subject of recent TED talks.

However, as IDC often points out, Digital Transformation is a journey and there are five stages to being fully optimized.

Are organizations well on their way to Stage 5? If not, what’s holding them back?

Are plans incorporating the latest advancements like artificial intelligence (AI) and internet of things (IoT) on track?

In reality, most organizations are still in Stage 2, according to IDC. So what are the five stages?

The first stage, “Ad Hoc”, is the manual stage where paper-centric workflows dominate. The second, where most organizations are stuck, is “Opportunistic,” a basic level with image-only scanning. Capture is deployed and connected to content management systems and repositories. The data for the workflow is manually extracted and input. Stage 3, called “Repeatable,” features intelligent scanning and capture deployment with automated extraction, indexing, and categorization. Number 4 is named “Managed”: that stage features organizations integrating third platform technologies to support demands for real-time access and greater transparency.

The fifth and final stage reaches true digital transformation and involves automation across all departments, advanced workflows and use of what IDC calls innovation accelerators like internet of things or IoT, cognitive systems, next generation security and AI in the form of robotics. These are the buzzwords that your customers are trying to wrap their heads around when in reality they need help with the basics: turning paper-based processes into automated scan workflows.

How Can the Channel Help Customers Advance in their Digital Transformation Journey?

The first reaction might be to sell technology to move organizations along the digital transformation journey. And technology certainly exists to do this. However, whether you are a managed services provider, a system integrator or a business consultant, you have a unique opportunity to show organizations how they can begin with small steps and build toward the larger goal.

Help your customers identify repetitive paper processes that can be improved with automated workflows. Show them how through automated workflows, the company can benefit from increased accuracy of digital capture, fewer human errors and increased productivity. Demonstrate how their investment in their existing multifunction devices (MFDs) can be used as a key device for document capture.

Unlike image-only scanning, scan workflows have evolved to be able to process image scanning into text based documents that can be keyword searched.

Through this consultative conversation, customers will realize that automated workflows will also eliminate costly paper storage costs and improve document retrieval (and for many, help with regulatory compliance.) All of these areas help the bottom line.

State of Digital Transformation for Most Companies

At the recent AIIM 2017 conference, an organization dedicated to digital information, AIIM representatives gave a status of where most companies are in their digital transformation. In agreement with IDC, AIIM experts gave this analysis on the state of digital transformation. Along with the status, here’s what channel partners can do to assist customers.

1. "Most companies see human factor, not technology or cost as the main roadblock to going fully digital.”

Simplicity is important when introducing a change from paper to digital workflows. Be sure to offer a solution that minimizes the number of steps the user has to take to select and execute a workflow.

2. Email is king in internal collaboration, but its use and popularity are fading.

Many organizations enable scan to email, which actually is more counter-productive than paper when considering the steps to get it from email to its final destination and security. Document workflows eliminate email and deliver directly to pre-defined destinations whether that is a cloud-based repository, ECM system or a line-of-business application. Work with your customers to identify paper-based processes that are being scanned to email.

3. Companies are adopting SaaS and cloud solutions at a rapid pace. Organizations need to be ensured that workflow solution for documents can work nicely with these technologies.

Be sure to offer scan workflows that can easily integrate into cloud solutions as well as line-of-business applications and ECM systems. Customers are looking for subscription based solutions to make their purchasing decision easier and to only pay for what they need when they need it.

4. File sync-and-share solutions must be embraced and accepted. Workers are demanding to use programs like DropBox and Box. Similar to SaaS and cloud solution scan workflows must be able to integrate directly into these kinds of document repositories easily and without additional log-in requirements.

Similarly to cloud, ECM and line of business solutions, integration with sync and share applications needs to be seamless. In other words, users expect a single sign-on solution to these types of services.

5. Organizations are behind in adopting these sophisticated solutions: paper and scan to e-mail are still heavily used.

Sometimes the extent of digital transformation can be paralyzing. Talk of AI and IoT is much more than most companies can handle. Start small and identify paper-based processes that can easily be transformed into digital workflows.

Organizations are looking for help in setting attainable goals. Today’s service providers need to do more than sales and service. They need to take a consultative approach to understanding their customers’ processes and build plans to help them move along their digital transformation journeys at a pace that fits their needs.

Walter Koelewijn is senior vice president and managing director of the Y Soft Scanning division as well as a member of AIIM.