CEOs are concerned their companies will lose competitive advantage by losing out to the pace of technology innovation just as the economy seems buttressed by nothing but promises. They are also concerned that they lose competitive edge due to inefficiencies, that they are at risk of poor governance, they are not agile enough to deal with current and future market changes, and that they do not have their fingers on the pulse of their operational data to support e-discovery. And it is in these, their greatest fears, they can find their greatest opportunities, says Jurgen de Jongh, head of pre-sales, Enterprise Services Group at Ricoh SA.
Business leaders know they must transform their organisations to be competitive and relevant in today’s tough economic climate. Their major challenges are ascertaining precisely how to get what will count, where they need it in their businesses, from diminished budgets, while also supporting unknown future needs.
It’s a tall order. CEOs are understandably agitated. For some it will be a last shot effort. Get it wrong and they risk everything. Get it right and they stand to gain a significant march on their competition.
Digitalisation is fundamentally altering the landscape of what it means to be a business today. That’s not to say the principles of business are changing. Even though digitalisation has enabled entirely new businesses, opened new markets, not all traditional industries are being torpedoed – far from it. But the way that people do business today is being altered, no matter what type of business you’re in. Even something as far from digital as can be imagined, a South African waste management company, has digitalised its operations to provide better customer service.
A core element of business is the data about what’s happening in the business. When stock is ordered, delivered, paid for, and so on, does not change. Business leaders have to know what’s going on if they hope to run the business effectively. Paper was extensively abused in the past in an effort to keep effective records. We all know the story. It’s much more efficient to digitalise that paper.
So our first point of impact in helping businesses maintain pace with technology, become efficient, manage governance risks, become agile to deal with current and future market changes, and support e-discovery, are the documents that inhabit their processes and workflows. Imaging devices, the ubiquitous printers and scanners, coupled with software intelligently injected into the network, and specialist partners under one service delivery umbrella, combine to deliver what CEOs and other business leaders need.
Bringing the physical world into the digital in this way is important. But it’s important to do it in ways that promote the flow of information back into physical business activities so that intelligent business decisions result in concrete, cost-saving, revenue-promoting activities.
A lot of that now gets built directly into what used to be simple imaging devices – the printers, scanners, and multifunction devices. They automate more, such as workflows, and they make people more productive, they protect information and demonstrate compliance, and they eliminate waste and reduce costs.
Being able to share information so that people have actionable intelligence is now improved through projectors, smart boards, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. People can be productive, tap into the more informed processes and workflows from wherever they are, for more of their time each day.
And more data is not necessarily a good thing. It can swamp knowledge workers and render them useless. Structuring the data so that it’s contextually sensible is just as important as getting at it in the first place. Workflows and processes must provide the right data to the right people when they need it.
These core elements gives businesses and their leaders the bracing their current and unknown future endeavours demand during economic uncertainty, digital disruption, and the demand for greater accountability.
By Jurgen de Jongh, head of pre-sales, Enterprise Services Group at Ricoh SA