Business Challenge: Improving Productivity in a Digital World
Digital transformation...information overload...the chaos of data. Businesses today spend more time than ever shifting information from one place to the other. Yet, despite the increase in data and data mobility, employee productivity is falling, according to a recent report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The question is: What can be done to improve employee productivity?
Organizations of all sizes and types are faced with a near-constant influx of paper and digital documents. Some predictions indicate that digital data will exceed 44 trillion gigabytes by 2020, with 90 percent of that growth in the form of unstructured data.
Unstructured data is information that either does not have a pre-defined data model or is not organized in a pre-defined manner. This undefined information may include items such as books, journals, electronic and paper documents, health records, email, images, videos, as well as other types of information. While the information is not structured, it is in the form of an object: (1) a computer file, (2) a mailed letter, (3) a completed form, and so on.
With the exponential growth of data that arrives in various formats and from multiple sources, organizations must find new and innovative ways to take the complexity out of information capture and routing. Ineffective use and movement of this data leads to lower employee productivity as well as lost opportunities.
An inability to harness this data by turning it into information that can drive an organization's processes and actions leads to needless complexity and lost opportunities. According to Forbes Magazine, some senior managers complain that even the most disciplined employees -- the ones who come to work early, stay late and diligently complete their tasks -- lack the kind of productivity that can make a real difference to an organization.
While deadlines exist for a reason and goals must be met, employees who spend their time blindly completing tasks spend less time questioning, thinking, and collaborating -- the very activities that drive companies forward. Organizations can help to instill this forward drive into more employees and make incoming information more available by digitizing and centralizing information, while automating routine tasks.
Low productivity is most rampant in the areas and activities where physical and digital documents intersect. We have identified five such areas:
- Mailroom: Opening and delivering mail by hand is notoriously inefficient. Mailroom automation, which includes scanning batches of incoming mail, extracting and validating the information, then routing it to the right person or department has been shown to speed business processes. Moreover, research has begun to show that automation doesn't cost jobs; rather, it increases productivity and profits without the need for additional staff and overhead.
- Accounts Payable: Pinpointing a single invoice in a sea of records consumes time, energy and resources. Automation technology is a critical and growing industry movement that is helping companies implement efficient accounting practices. Automatically route invoices and payments through customized procedural steps, streamlining operations.
- Records Management: Scanning records, validating information at the point of capture, and securely sending imaged files exactly where they need to be -- when they need to be there -- improves compliance, makes information easier to access, and saves money on transport and storage costs.
- Forms Processing: By using artificial intelligence (AI) to classify documents and extract critical data, paper forms can be more quickly and accurately processed. In some cases, paper forms are eliminated entirely with the use of online forms and intelligent data extraction. Regardless of method, automating the process speeds the extraction and validation of information. Automated routing eliminates manual data entry or rework and frees staff to do more value-added work.
- Customer Service: Fast, accurate, and secure management of customer information improves the customer experience. Digital automation enables organizations to provide better, faster customer service. Secure on-line access to relevant data empowers customers to serve themselves, increasing customer satisfaction by reducing wait times.
A New Productivity
Today's productivity is not measured in number of tasks completed or number of hours worked. Today's productivity is a measurement of the performance of both processes and people. Management's key responsibility is for the application and performance of knowledge.
Reducing paper, automating routine tasks and empowering employees to get involved with ideas rather than rote tasks generates this new kind of productivity. It's this new productivity that leads to company success, customer engagement and employee satisfaction.