When a company brings new technology into its offices it needs to do so as part of an overall strategy that embraces both existing IT infrastructure and document process management.

Technology Alone Won’t Transform the Workplace

Many companies are not able to maximise their use of the latest business technology they have acquired. According to the Ricoh Document Governance Index 2012(compiled on the basis of 1,075 interviews among C-level executives, directors and other employees in Europe)79% of businesses are being held back by their ageing legacy IT systems. In addition, 78% of the business leaders polled admit they sometimes invest in new technology before making sure they are using the functionality of their existing systems to the full. The findings underline once again the fact that technology should not be seen as a universal panacea, as it cannot transform the workplace all by itself. Business technology and business-critical document processes must go forward together.

Processes and technology should be inseparable

The study demonstrates that companies tend to assess the business technology they use separately from their document process management - which basically means the way information circulates through a company - instead of thinking of these two aspects as working in tandem, with the efficient functioning of one dependent on the other. Only 53% of the organisations surveyed stated that they reviewed their business-critical document processes every six months or every six to twelve months. Michel de Bosschere, President of Ricoh France, insists that nowadays European companies should assess their business-critical processes and their technology regularly in order to get the very best out of them, under a rigorous overall strategy.

A clear divide between front and back office investments

The Ricoh study illustrates that a deep understanding of how document processes work is crucial to truly understanding the challenges and identifying solutions. When technology is well integrated it can have an impact on working methods, making information flows run more smoothly. Technological innovation is in any case set to continue at an unprecedented rate, so businesses need to act now if they are to keep ahead of the competition. However, the study uncovered a clear divide between front office (sales and customer service) and back office (finance, HR, and marketing) technology investments. Many businesses go all out on new technology for the front office but fail to integrate it with the back office. This disjointed approach to process management could mean document processes are exposed to bottlenecks, wasteful duplication of effort, and even security risk, the Ricoh study warns.