Why is the Digitization of Documents at the Top of the Agenda?
The essential tools of digitization – scanners, computer networks, content management systems and optical character recognition (OCR) and data extraction solutions – have been around for decades without eradicating paper. In the past, digitization strategies were slow to take off due to a number of factors, including the perceived complexity of digitization, notably the difficulty of managing and synchronizing digital and printed communications; a lack of leadership by senior managers; concern about costs; and fear of change. Today, even SMEs realize that there is no longer any excuse to delay digitization, with 55% of SMEs questioned for Neopost’s CVA Analysis Across Transactional & Marketing Communications agreeing with the statement ‘Digitization is just something that we have to do’, compared to 20% who disagreed. There are many reasons why digitization is at the top of the corporate agenda in public and private sector organizations.
Speeding Up Processes Boosts Productivy
Productivity levels have stayed stubbornly low for decades. They are still below 2008 levels and the UK for example is falling behind competitors, such as Germany. By speeding up processes, digitization has clear productivity benefits.
Switching from Paper to Digital Enables Cost Savings
The 2008/9 crash and its fall-out have forced businesses and public sector organizations to economize. As the costs of printing, mailing and filing have come under scrutiny, organizations of all sizes have taken steps to eliminate waste and unnecessary expenditure. The e-substitution of hard copy mailings with email, web-links and mobile messaging is one way to save money. Another is to scan archives to reduce the amount of space taken up by paper records in on-site and off-site storage facilities. Digitization also makes it possible to centralize processes, such as accounts or mail processing, in one location. This removes the need to duplicate functions in branch offices and offers the opportunity to take advantage of cheaper labor in overseas locations.
e-Government Initiatives is Driving Digitization
A lot of the impetus for digitization has come from government bodies that encourage the public sector to reduce their use of paper and implement electronic workflows. From paperless vehicle licenses and driving licenses to the scanning of patient medical records and court documents, public sector processes are being transformed by digitization. The European Commission has a clear digital agenda and the majority of invoices will be electronic in the EU by 2020. And the U.S. Department of Treasury recognizes that e-invoicing could reduce costs by 50%, saving up to $450 million per year. (1)
Digital Documents Facilitate Remote Working
Changing working practices have strengthened the case for digitization. In order for mobile/remote working to be successful, people need remote access to office files; something that is incompatible with paper-based workflows and filing systems.
Cloud-Based Documents Offer Efficiency
The rise of the smartphone and cloud computing have simplified mobile working and significantly enhanced the productivity of mobile workers. Mobile workers today can capture information on the move with a mobile scanner or smartphone/tablet camera and route to it office systems as part of a paperless workflow.
Digital Channels Increase Customer Satisfaction
Greater competition and easier switching between service providers mean businesses can no longer take customers for granted. Almost one in three consumers in the UK (30%) surveyed by Vision Critical for customer service specialist Kana said that they had become less loyal to retail brands in the last five years, with 25% identifying poor customer service as the main reason. Meeting customer expectations is essential for customer retention and loyalty. This includes responding quickly to queries, personalizing offers and communicating via customers' preferred channels.
Going Digital Reduces Your Carbon Footprint
Businesses are under pressure to cut carbon emissions and reducing paper use is a quick and relatively easy way to shrink one's carbon footprint. Digitization also facilitates remote working, which has an impact on travel-related emissions and can enable an organization to reduce the amount of office space needed, generating additional CO2 savings.
Digitization Makes Regulatory Compliance Easier
An increase in regulatory compliance, particularly in the financial services and health sectors, means that organizations are a lot more accountable for the communications they send out. Opting for digitization brings greater visibility, accuracy and transparency to operations, making it easier to achieve and demonstrate compliance.
Paper-Saving Initiatives Achieve a Return on Investment
Just as strong as the business case for digitization is the financial argument. AIIM, the non-profit association for the Information Management community, estimates that 60% of organizations that have implemented paper-saving initiatives achieve a Return on Investment (ROI) on paper-free projects within 12 months, with more than three-quarters seeing ROI within 18 months (source: Paper Wars 2014 – an update from the battlefield). Neopost’s own research shows that awareness of the financial benefits of digitization is high even among SMEs in the early stages of digitization, with 57% agreeing that “Any investment in digitization now will be worth it in a few years’ time”, compared to just 16% who disagreed with the statement (source: CVA Analysis Across Transactional & Marketing Communications).
A Digital Strategy Gives You a Competitive Advantage
Your competitors are already digitizing their processes and enjoying greater efficiency and lower costs as a result, giving them a competitive advantage. So now is the right time to put to put digitization at the top or your agenda too.
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