Even as digitisation takes hold in businesses across New Zealand (and indeed the world), elements of the physical remain. After all, we live in the flesh, not some Cartesian vision like that portrayed in 1990s movie ‘The Matrix’. And, said Cameron Mount, Fuji Xerox New Zealand GM Enterprise Consulting, it is through an optimised combination of the physical and digital worlds that the best digital transformation results will be found.
For its part, Fuji Xerox NZ is focused on the transition between the physical worlds of documents – printers and multifunction devices are still an integral part of the corporate landscape – and the digital, where increasingly documents form components of electronic workflows. Or, indeed, workflows which combine the digital and physical.
“One of the issues businesses face today is that they don’t have a platform to manage these transitions, which are becoming increasingly commonplace as digital transformation initiatives get underway,” said Mount. “Instead, they labour with a collection of point solutions which do a bit of a half job.”
Since digital transformation has, at its core, a drive towards efficiency, clunky exchanges and hand-offs which interrupt the smooth flow of information shouldn’t be tolerated. Instead, said Mount, approaches should be considered which ‘extend the transformation journey’. “That means the ability to integrate physical and digital workflows, including the use of the variety of devices commonplace in business today – and in particular, the mobile devices which typically enter the workplace on a ‘BYOD’ basis.”
That’s a problem which has long beset workflows: if a ‘casual’ device enters the workplace, getting it to act as a part of a process can be a time-consuming and overly difficult affair. Mount said such devices shouldn’t be automatically excluded, as they are tools being used by people to get things done. Instead, the platform should provide the capability to rapidly enroll new mobile devices, while allowing the secure access to data assets and printers which might be required by the individual using that device.
“Mobile printing is relatively late to the game, so getting it to work at all, let alone well, has been a bit of a problem and an insecure one at that,” he said.
If workflows are part of the information superhighway (a perhaps amusingly nostalgic term) then the onramps to that highway, from the physical world, are still in many instances more of a rutted goat track than a smoothly graded, asphalt-coated launch pad.
Mount said with the right platform in place, which should also integrate with the variety of external content storage repositories both on-network and online typically in use today, digital transformation strategies can be accelerated and some of the more obvious sticking points ironed out.
“At the core of it, you need a platform which produce documents when required, but which also dries out the need to print where possible by equipping for the use of digital signatures or annotations, which provides the ability to rapidly and easily share with teams, and which acts as an integral component of digital workflows, rather than one which sits alongside or outside.”
Mount added that effective digital transformation journeys require both a ‘helicopter view’ as well as getting into the finer details, such as looking at the functions and actions required as documents move through a workflow.
And as for which organisations are looking for solutions for better digital onramps, Mount said it is a broad range. “It started with the financial services and health industries, where there is a high degree of regulation and compliance, and high usage of paper-based processes. But there has been a broadening of the brush, reflected in the cross-industry interest in digital transformation and how that can save money and get things done faster and more effectively.”
What is clear is that on the journey to effective digitisation, smooth on- and off-ramps can accelerate the process of effective information access and flow – a concept which applies to organisations of any size and across industry verticals.