The idea of the paperless office has been around for quite some time – since the first computers for business use became available in fact. Over the last 50 years, this idea has gone from mere futurism to ecological idealism to a reality for some, and is soon to become all but inevitable for most.
That last bit is more than just speculation. The World Economic Forum tell us that the real digital revolution, at least from the business perspective, hasn’t hit yet – but that it will be here very soon. The idea is that the movement to combine digital and physical systems will only accelerate, and quite a few of today’s business models will be entirely disrupted in the near future.
However, it isn’t happening overnight. The process is ongoing, and that means that the time is right to start transforming your business in order to stay relevant (and profitable) when the great change really takes hold. Most of the technologies that will be central to the new digital economy already exist, and can be integrated into existing businesses today. Becoming an ‘early adopter’ of digitally transformative technologies can give your organisation a huge ‘leg up’ when it comes to responding to disruptive changes to the business environment.
So, how do I plan for this ‘digital transformation’?
There is no magic formula that will work for every type of business, obviously. Whilst the details of transforming your own organisation are up to you (and your technology partners) to decide, there are two core ideas that you will have to make central to your business:
- No matter what the nature of your business it, information is already your most important resource.
- Without a constantly evolving skill set, neither you nor your people will be able to manage that information effectively or profitably.
You need to create a viable transformation strategy for your business – not soon, but now. Yesterday would have been even better.
But as the business landscape is already transformed (to an accelerating degree), your strategy can’t be the ‘same old type’. My ‘one size fits most’ suggestions are:
- Focus on business, not trends and not appearances. Remember what it is you do, and how you make money. Changes that don’t help that won’t help at all.
- Plan for contingencies. Change is expensive, and unexpected change doubly so. You won’t see every change or every emergency coming. That’s not how disruption works. Be prepared and be agile.
- You don’t understand the full journey yet. You can’t know exactly how the business environment will evolve. Make today’s processes as flexible and robust as possible and have the infrastructure in place to respond as the landscape unfolds. This means business processes that can grow with you and be easily updated and maintained.
- Do you have a robust business process platform which enables you to flex your way of doing business over time as your industry and customers evolve? You can only adopt a posture from which you can better respond to developments as they happen.
- If your plan stops working, get rid of it! Planning to remain agile and adaptable also means being willing to adopt new plans when they are needed.
If that seems daunting, or even terrifying, you’ve got the right idea. Planning for disruptive change is never easy, but finding the right technology partners can at least make it possible. If you have access to real specialists who can stay at the cutting edge of technologies like business process automation, paperless document management and data capture for you, the battle is already half won!
If you’d like to learn more about going paperless, our business process experts would love to speak with you. Call us at 020 77 32 32 23.