Digitizing Trends in Central and Eastern Europe: What CIOs Need to Know
They say print is dead. But is it? Have we really stopped printing? And what does this mean in the light of digital transformation?
Indeed, printed documents remain a necessity in nearly every office, and A3 printing and color printing are in high demand. In recent years, though, IDC has observed a clear trend toward reducing print volumes — for example, by implementing business rules that limit printing, by improving printing efficiency through managed print service contracts, or by digitization of paper to electronic documents. Yet, organizations are struggling to merge paper and electronic document workflows and efficiently manage information across the different formats and devices.
The boom in adoption of 3rd Platform technologies in the Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) region, is having a pronounced impact on business models and the way people work. Organizations have become increasingly aware that leveraging these technologies is essential for them to run their organizations efficiently and remain competitive in a digital ecosystem where information is at the core. As documents, both paper-based and digital, are integral to most business processes, advances in these technologies puts increasing pressure on organizations to reevaluate not only their printing and document infrastructures, but also their business process and workflow requirements.
Overcoming pain points: Digitization’s value
The number of pages printed (page volume) in the office environment in CEE has been declining over the last three years. Currently, 57% of all document processes are paper-based; however, that figure is expected to fall to 50% in the course of a year, according to IDC's CEE Printing and Digitization Trends in the Office 2018 survey. At the same time, cloud, analytics, and multi-channel communication technologies and services are on the rise, and they continue to transform how and where business is conducted, and hence shape an increasingly digital operating environment for businesses with information at the core of the ecosystem. Documents, both paper-based and digital, are at the heart of every organization and are seen as critical to most business processes.
Among the top pain points for CEE organizations in relation to day-to-day document management and workflow are physically storing and archiving paper documents, manually extracting data from paper documents, and a lack of workflow integration within and/or between organizational departments. In addition, surveyed organizations cited challenges related to automated approvals of documents and document access and sharing from remote or mobile locations. The most important challenge organizations face today is accessing and archiving information within their document and content infrastructures. And this is expected to become a bigger problem in the future. Business data volumes increase in line with growing adoption of 3rd Platform technologies, and so organizations will have to transform their document infrastructures to manage massive amounts of digital content, while also maintaining paper document workflows.
Current and planned investments in digitization technologies
Print and document infrastructures and processes must therefore be adapted to rapidly changing IT infrastructures, service delivery models, and — most importantly — customer requirements and expectations. Most of the organizations surveyed in CEE already use digitization solutions to convert paper to digital, process information submitted via electronic forms, and/or to automate business processes and decision making. Significantly, most of the organizations plan to continue investing in digitization solutions.
Slightly more than half of the survey respondents indicated that they already digitized or are currently digitizing their finance/accounting processes. The most pressing functional areas for digitization in the next 12 months are human resources, marketing, and legal/regulatory/governance processes.
User expectations and benefits
The main reasons cited by organizations for these investments include: improving operational efficiency through faster processes; enhancing employee productivity through improved access to information and reduced manual/redundant work; and taking advantage of multi-channel communication to improve or create completely new customer experiences If given the opportunity (i.e., data protection laws permitting) to use electronic communication with public authorities and/or other businesses, 58% of organizations surveyed stated that they would prefer to use electronic communication, as it allows them to speed up processes and have a secure and audited documentation.
Organizations are very careful in selecting a solution provider for their digitization initiatives. The following selection criteria are the most commonly cited:
- Value for money was the most important criteria for 62% of respondents
- Solutions provided must be easy to use (53%)
- Vendors must provide an end-to-end solution (52%)
Document workflows are often well-ingrained legacy processes within an organization, and there is limited awareness of the potential opportunities for process improvements locked within these workflows. Therefore, organizations choose providers with the capabilities to effectively address document and workflow challenges in their specific business context and to provide innovative solutions for adapting workflows to a new, digital business model.
IDC research indicates that organizations can reduce costs and increase efficiency by digitizing document workflows. In line with this increased efficiency comes the opportunity to develop new business models and revenue-generating processes.
IDC’s end-user survey presents the current adoption levels of print and document management and digitization technologies in key markets of CEE. Moreover, this study reveals users' perceptions, priorities, and challenges regarding digitization and how these differ across verticals and company sizes. Responses such as future investment plans or preferences for third-party providers can be broken down by country, business sector, and company size.
"Organizations in CEE have already started digitizing their document processes with the clear objective to optimize their workflows and improve operational efficiency. Greater efficiency and business agility can be achieved via cloud-based services, big data solutions, and mobile technologies,” says Tobias Kleu, senior program manager with IDC. Digital transformation in the office is triggered by the rise of technological innovations and a competitive business environment. “Nevertheless, some organizations are still hesitant to integrate paper and digital workflows. Some claim that digitization is hard to implement because of their type of business. But those organizations that can, should… because the future is digital, and digitization will become essential for businesses to remain competitive and, most likely, even to survive.”