One important reason for digital transformation failures is employee pushback. To overcome this problem, top management can ensure employees know the importance of digital transformation and cultivate an organizational culture.
However, only ~11% of executives are technology pioneers with a well-defined corporate strategy and level-headed technology knowledge.3 In this article, we highlight the benefits of digitization to assist executives in managing employee resistance to digital transformation.
What is digitization?
Digitization is the first step in digital transformation (see Figure 1). Digitization turns physical documents, images, or other materials into digital files. Digitization can be achieved using optical character recognition software (OCR) or an intelligent document capture (IDC) tool.
Figure 1: Steps to digital transformation.
1. Increased accessibility
Digital documents can be saved in the cloud and accessed from any device with an internet connection. This makes them easier to use and more accessible than physical documents.
Access to documents through the internet is more important now that people often work from home or in a hybrid way:
- ~15% of job opportunities in the U.S. is remote work.
Paper-based documents can be difficult to access and share. Paper-based documents, in particular, cannot be easily accessed by:
- interdepartmental workers
- teams in different parts of the world
To take advantage of the increased accessibility of electronic files, digitized documents can be stored on content service platforms (CSP). Content services can allow users to:
documents from a single platform.
Figure 2: Percentages of U.S. citizens working remotely.4
2. Improved searchability
Digital documents can be easily searched using keywords, making it faster and easier to find specific information. Reducing document search time can be critical for office efficiency since
- ~60% of office professionals say they spent more time searching for documents than responding to emails.
Content services platforms, for example, can offer improved search capabilities for electronic files (see Figure 3). CS platforms can organize electronic documents using metadata information. Therefore, the search feature on content service platforms can be used to look up these documents.
Figure 3: CSP capabilities.5
3. Improved collaboration and digital competition
Digital documents can be shared by multiple people simultaneously, making it easier for teams to collaborate. This can help organizations become more competitive by enabling them to respond faster to changing market trends and customer needs.
Digitizing documents can allow employees to share documents through the company’s file management system, such as content services platforms (see Video 1). This can increase efficiency in small and large businesses, especially global ones.
For example, BNP Paribas, a banking company, was having trouble integrating different banking inputs for their leasing operations that came from global banking transactions. With the digitization of its paper documents and the use of a content services platform, the company was able to make its files available to approximately ~1500 users in approximately seven countries.
Video 1: Document sharing with content services:
4. Enhanced document processing
Digitization can enable the automation of document processing, such as data entry, making it faster and more efficient. Unstructured data is estimated to account for 90% of all data.6 For instance, manually processing paper documents like rental agreements can be time-consuming. Using OCR software or an IDC tool to scan paper documents can speed up document processing.
The employees of Fleet Hire Services, a car rental company, had trouble manually processing ~11,500 rental contracts and other documents each month. To overcome this difficulty:
- The company digitized its documents.
- Automated data extraction of critical information like payment information from digitized documents with an intelligent document capture tool.
In this way, the company:
- Saved employees’ time by reducing the need to enter information manually into their document management system.
- Increased visibility of vehicle logs and saved ~£1200 per month in taxes.
5. Reduced storage costs and increased sustainability
Digital documents take up less space than physical documents, which can lower the costs of storing and managing physical documents.
Storing physical files in folders and storage rooms can be costly.
- 1 terabyte equivalent of physical documents can be stored in 2 file cabinets, according to estimates. 2 file cabinets can cost about $450 per year (see Video 2).
- Storing 1 terabyte of data in the cloud can cost about $75, which is about six times cheaper than storing the same information in file cabinets.
Digitization can also reduce the need for paper documents. For example, a finance company reduced paper costs by digitizing physical documents. Reducing paper usage can increase sustainability in a business.
Video 2: Cost comparison of storing documents in file cabinets to cloud
6. Improved document retention
The long-term stability of digital documents can be important for ensuring compliance with laws and regulations. Digitizing and storing documents, such as tax returns, in digital format can be crucial. For instance, the IRS requires that the originals of income tax returns be kept for three years from the filing date and for seven years if a loss from bad debt is claimed.7
Digital documents are:
- More durable: Digital documents can be preserved in a stable, digital format, making it easier to retain them long-term. Changes in temperature and relative humidity hasten the decomposition of paper and similar materials.
- Backed up digitally: Digital documents can be backed up and stored in multiple locations, making it easier to protect them from data loss due to accidents or disasters. Even after a catastrophic failure, digital backups can restore your files. If you lose your paper files, they are gone for good.
- Retained in content services platforms: Content services platforms can offer record retention capabilities to ensure compliance. CSPs can provide automated or manual zero-click declarations to prevent document access for a specific date or time (see Video 3).
Video 3: Records management with content services
7. Increased security
Digitized documents can be more easily protected from unauthorized access or disclosure, helping to ensure the privacy of sensitive information. For example, content services platforms can help protect electronic documents with encryption services and access controls.
Content services platforms can provide the following security benefits:
- Role-based authorizations can restrict document reading or writing permissions to authorized users.
- Audit controls can record document access by users. This can help organizations meet regulatory requirements by providing a secure, traceable record of transactions and activities.
- Content encryption can encrypt files in the CSP’s cloud storage. Only employees with access keys can view the encrypted content in the content-encrypted cloud storage.
For more on the benefits of digitization, please contact us at:
Cem has been the principal analyst at AIMultiple since 2017. AIMultiple informs hundreds of thousands of businesses (as per similarWeb) including 60% of Fortune 500 every month.
Cem's work has been cited by leading global publications including Business Insider, Forbes, Washington Post, global firms like Deloitte, HPE, NGOs like World Economic Forum and supranational organizations like European Commission. You can see more reputable companies and media that referenced AIMultiple.
Throughout his career, Cem served as a tech consultant, tech buyer and tech entrepreneur. He advised businesses on their enterprise software, automation, cloud, AI / ML and other technology related decisions at McKinsey & Company and Altman Solon for more than a decade. He also published a McKinsey report on digitalization.
He led technology strategy and procurement of a telco while reporting to the CEO. He has also led commercial growth of deep tech company Hypatos that reached a 7 digit annual recurring revenue and a 9 digit valuation from 0 within 2 years. Cem's work in Hypatos was covered by leading technology publications like TechCrunch and Business Insider.
Cem regularly speaks at international technology conferences. He graduated from Bogazici University as a computer engineer and holds an MBA from Columbia Business School.
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