Digital transformation means the use of technologies that empower all employees – not just IT leaders and CIOs – to improve business performance, transparency, efficiency, speed and agility by bringing together previously siloed departments.
This collaborative business atmosphere doesn’t just happen by itself. In a QuickBase study, 80% of respondents – from the CEO down to the rookie employee – agreed that data integration and workflow automation technologies will play a massive role in digitally transforming organisations.
As enterprises revamp their processes to meet the demands of a changing marketplace, workflow automation and document management tools can accelerate digital transformation by letting employees work smarter and streamlining business operations – but there are six key features without which true digital transformation isn’t possible.
1. Integration of technologies
IDC says that 81% of business leaders run into problems because different applications don’t talk to each other, meaning employees need to perform separate, manual activities to complete tasks – which is not efficient.
Systems that can adapt to and integrate with other third-party business technologies (for example, Salesforce, DocuSign and others) allow the organisation to be more productive – even though multiple tools are being used, having them all integrated builds bridges between various departments in the business.
Digital workflow automation technologies let employees be more effective by allowing tasks to be delegated, grouped and balanced across different teams. Every organisation has a structure – some employees may have admin rights or different clearances than others – and a workflow automation system accommodates a variety of organisational structures through role-based accessibility.
3. Reduced risk and liability
Companies deal with a huge amount of data on a day-to-day basis, and much of it lives within items like documents and contracts, which are attached to revenue.
According to IDC, more than a third of business leaders say they have problems with documents that are missing information, and 51% have problems with documents that are misfiled or lost – all risks created by not being digital.
A paper document relies on human intervention to catch any flaws, sensitive information or clauses that create business risk. Document management software can flag this information automatically, and the document can be fixed before it goes out into the wider world.
Today, companies can employ artificial intelligence techniques, allowing systems to parse out the meaning of various documents and take action. This lets an organisation make decisions about the fate of a document through advanced computing techniques.
Superior language processing using categorisation and taxonomy, instead of keyword-based searches, will allow programs to make sense of a document based on its content and make decisions without human intervention, thus achieving standardisation and efficiency and further eliminating errors and risk.
We live in an on-demand economy – everyone wants-slash-needs to have everything immediately. Business documents need to be sent from person to person in a workflow process, from approval to editing to redlining and signaturing, at the speed of now, and it’s no longer feasible to route documents the traditional way. It’s simply too slow.
Whether employees are delivering an internal document to other team members or whether a company is delivering a service to vendors, digital methods give immediate access, allowing documents to be instantly collected, modified and routed via cloud, email or software.
Visibility ensures documents and tasks are progressing correctly and on time, and lets a business track any breakdowns in the process or recurring issues. Digital dashboards and process management consoles allow employees to view progress toward goals, and can see at a glance what documents are being routed and where in the process they are.
A digital system also can send updates and notifications on progress via email or through the system. No more wondering where documents are bogged down or when one can expect them.
6. Sharing and collaboration
In the not-so-distant past, employees would print out documents, redline them with a pen and send them to the next person to add comments by walking them down the hall, faxing, or scanning and emailing. This no longer makes sense in the digital era.
When documents live digitally, they can be shared instantly and be worked on by various departments simultaneously – and document management tool features like versioning and reverting don’t mean that an older version is lost, because the document can be reverted if needed.
IT leaders today are in the business of building experiences just as much as they are building products, and digitally transformative tools like workflow automation and document management systems enable that.
By eliminating or revamping outdated processes and adding new technologies to automate some tasks, a business can bring consistency and efficiency to its operations – and although digital transformation is very much about technology, ultimately it’s people who benefit.
A business that connects people and departments through streamlined processes and collaboration has the ability to address shifting market needs – and the agility to meet current and future challenges.
Sourced from Dr. Antonis Papatsaras, CTO, SpringCM