Digitize or die: core Central European countries prepare for document transformation


Nov 7, 2016

31 Oct 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, Prague — Since the advent of information technology, particularly since the Internet arrived, and even more so since smartphones and tablets started their conquest around the (office) world, paper documents were deemed to be a thing from the past. Nevertheless, until recently, International Data Corporation (IDC) surveys repeatedly revealed that organizations in Central Europe (CE) were still relying heavily on paper, and that printed output was actually either stagnating or increasing, while a decline was only likely in the event of an underlying decline in business performance.

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In 2016, for the first time since IDC began monitoring page volume trends in the Central Europe (CE) region, there has been a noted decline in printing, which is not correlated to business performance, but instead to the fact that organizations are now starting to digitize their documents and underlying business processes. In IDC’s latest survey, “IDC Printing & Document Usage Trends for Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary”, many respondents cited that annual print volume at their organizations decreased due to such factors as “increased preference for electronic communication” and the fact that “it is sufficient to view/edit working documents in electronic form”. Also, many respondents indicated that not only did they increasingly scan and digitize their documents, but they also digitalized certain business process document workflows.

In today’s information-driven world, more than ever businesses are being pressured to improve and automate document processes to become more efficient, reduce costs, and increase productivity. Business workflow automation and optimization seeks to remove inefficiencies of information silos and disconnected processes, connecting people to the information they need at the moment they need it, with specific business benefits. The trend for converting paper to digital with automating classification, validation, and data extraction is also a consequence of digital transformation efforts, which shift businesses’ technology investments to be able to support anytime, anywhere initiatives and enable changes to how and where business is conducted. Strongly growing investments in 3rd Platform technologies — mobile, cloud, big data, and social — and the adoption thereof by end users, drives businesses to address new workflow challenges that are associated with end-user demand to have content available anytime and anywhere in an increasingly digital business environment.

The main aims behind digitalization efforts are:

  • To reduce response times to client inquiries
  • To open up new communication channels, allowing for an anytime-anywhere customer experience
  • To increase information management and sharing among employees (particularly in a mobile context)

Given these transformative business goals, IDC expects document digitalization to increase on a permanent, continuous basis. For organizations, document digitalization can not only reduce operational expenses, but it also facilitates such benefits as higher employee productivity and optimized business process efficiency.

While a key benefit thus obtained from workflow automation is the reduction in human interaction and improvement of document processes, the scope of business workflow automation initiatives will go beyond management and optimization. Greater emphasis is being placed on automating revenue-generating workflows particularly around customer engagement and experience. For example, business analytics is becoming an integral part of the workflow, conducting prospects and client trend analytics and providing better insight into clients’ buying behavior in a rapidly expanding digital business environment. Also, as mobile become more prevalent within businesses, and purchase decisions and transactions are increasingly executed on mobile devices, digitization of documents and workflows will open up new service capabilities and revenue opportunities.

That said, paper-based workflows will not completely vanish in the foreseeable future, as there are certain instances where customers/partners require paper-based communication or documentation, or where external regulations demand a hardcopy for certain types of documents. Organizations now need to find a balance during this transition (paper and digital) phase. IDC strongly advises organizations to start digitalization initiatives early, at least for the most value-generating documents and workflows. The IDC Printing & Document Usage Trends survey for the Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary reveals drivers of document digitalization, the main benefits to be gained, and which technologies are used today in end-user organizations that have already started their digital journey.

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