Digitisation: A formattable foe or magnificent opportunity?

by Stephen Duncan

The term ‘digitisation’ evokes a sense of total transformation and specifically for those organisations that have been in business for over 20 years, one where legacy systems or operational processes have been successfully transitioned into a state of binary form. The clear goal; improve efficiency and transparency of business activities for both clients and staff. 

The fact is in today’s digital economy it’s hard to find an aspect of an organisation that hasn’t been touched in some way by digital evolution. Digital technology was always going to be a disruptor, but what impact does that have for those organisations that are centred on content-driven processes?

For example public sector agencies, where the digitisation journey has been less straight forward than for their private sector counterparts. AIIM research shows that there is much work to be done in this sector. In a recent survey findings report, "Digitally Transforming Government with Good Governance" by AIIM, only 14% of public sector respondents state the rate of converting key processes to paper-free is moving quickly. Progress has been increasingly slow for 48% of respondents, with 15% admitting they have stalled after the first few processes.

That said, the results for those that have transitioned is positive. AIIM’s findings include successful results from faster customer response being the biggest benefit, followed by improved productivity and cleaner audit trails for regulatory compliance. Additional benefits include better monitoring and visibility of process workflows, and fewer errors within the process. The transition has also enabled organisations to establish continuous improvement programs that further extend the value of wider spread and potentially more invasive workflow investments.

So, is digitation a cause for concern or does it create new opportunities? The digitisation elephant comes in the form of a lack of strategy, digital capability, budget and the confidence to address governance and security requirements. Forrester, in their “The Future of Business is Digital” describes a similar story, saying a mere 21% of executives believe they have the right people in place to define their digital strategy, and even fewer believe they have the right people to execute it.

One area that is sparking interest amongst public sector organisations is digitising content driven processes through automation and injecting governance. From simple service forms to Cabinet submissions, AIIM describe governance as a key enabler, providing the “foundation that supports digital process transformation, and in turn…the foundation upon which the information ecosystem is built and grown”. Injecting governance into business processes they state provides a framework for success by addressing the needs of customers, staff and other stakeholders for secure, reliable content.

This opens up an opportunity to focus on existing technologies such as existing Enterprise Content Management (ECM) systems through extending the value of their content repositories and information governance rules by automating processes and seamlessly interfacing with line-of-business systems.  

Take Gartner’s 2017 records and document management focus as highlighted in “The Death of ECM and Birth of Content Services”, there is a movement from simply the securing and management of content or ECM to a wider (digital) extension of information or Content Services Platforms (CSP). Gartner appear to be positioning ECM as no longer reflecting market dynamics or the organisational needs for a one size fits all ecosystem. For applications leaders in charge of content management projects, this means casting aside previous notions and rethinking their technology approaches.

Gartner suggest establishing a roadmap for implementing and adopting new content-related technologies during the next 12 months. They recommend prioritising the user experience by focusing on content services that support users' needs within the context of their current roles and work tasks.

This means effectively extending capabilities that enhance existing platforms, for example digitising the customer experience by offering a web-based interface. By injecting governance into the design, we don’t stop there, but also look to digitise the back-end process that supports it. The goal is to make the user experience for staff (within the organisation) just as easy and natural as the customer offering was. For example completely frictionless access to information within the content repository and create tasks that executives can carry out regardless of where they work.

Governance plays a major role by ensuring that each element of the process meets critical timelines and is managed in accordance with the information policies. Modern application providers understand this, offering products and services such as applications that build on your existing technology platforms.

They say that digital transformation is a journey not a destination and digitisation is one element of that journey. Injecting governance into and extending existing capabilities for example, by adopting digital content-driven processes applications, is just one of the opportunities digitisation provides.

Stephen Duncan is Product Marketing Manager, Objective Corporation.