As printer vendors transform themselves into document processing specialists, they are encouraging customers to embrace digitisation to reduce costs, improve customer service and increase productivity. Through a
combination of consultancy and MFP-enabled workflow automation solutions, they are encouraging users to drive paper out of their organisations and adopt electronic workflows.
Ricoh, for example, actively promotes electronic billing and invoicing through Ricoh Invoicing Services. It has just released the latest annual Billentis Report, which suggests that European businesses could cut invoicing costs by up to 80% by switching to electronic billing and invoicing.
The study estimates that 42 billion e-bills and invoices will be issued globally this year and highlights European efforts to encourage the shift to paperless billing. Denmark, for example, banned paper invoices from its public sector as early as 2005, producing savings for today’s taxpayers of €150 million a year, plus savings of €50 million for businesses. In Italy, the government’s adoption of an e-procurement system has reduced costs by over €3 billion.
Edward Gower-Isaac, vice president of Business Process Services at Ricoh Europe, said: “Digitisation is undoubtedly a key driver of the growing pan-European appetite for e-invoicing. Businesses realise that ‘going digital’ is no longer a differentiator, but a paramount requirement for any organisation with hopes of a long-term future.”
The benefits of digitisation are widely understood by senior managers. In a 2014 Ricoh Europe survey conducted by Coleman Parkes, 73% of business leaders said that achieving digital maturity would lead directly to an increase in profits, with 62% agreeing that it would increase their organisation’s appeal to potential investors and new owners.
Despite awareness of the benefits of digitisation, the scale of the transformation involved means that many organisations require additional expertise to help them make the change. In the Coleman Parkes study, 50% of business leaders felt they could not achieve digital maturity without the support of an external partner.
Gower-Isaac commented: “As with any change-based programme, organisations are rightly seeking external help as they make the move to e-invoicing. Ricoh’s Invoicing Services allows businesses to easily manage both paper and digital invoices at the same time. Not only do they stand to benefit from third-party expertise, their workforce is relieved of this often laborious and time consuming task. Crucially, this gives them the capacity to undertake other business-critical and cash generating activities.”
Another company successfully making the transition to solutions and services is Lexmark. It has been spending income earned from its traditional print business to acquire software companies specialising in information management, notably Perceptive Software.
Through a combination of software solutions and ‘smart’ MFPs, Lexmark offers a range of solutions to facilitate enterprise digitisation projects. Its latest is Perceptive Checklist Capture, which helps minimise the risk of human error in business processes by pulling together documents and data from smartphones, desktop PCs and MFPs.
By removing manual steps involved in the collection of related documents, Perceptive Checklist Capture reduces the rate of mis-filed or mis-classified content and frees knowledge workers to focus on customer service and compliance.
It can be used to capture photos and other content with a smartphone, tablet or Lexmark smart MFP and add them, along with computer files from a desktop PC, to a project or case folder. It notifies users when a document is missing or incomplete and delivers information directly to the user’s core business system, with storage in a central repository for rapid retrieval.
Leveraging the Perceptive Evolution platform, the capture interface provides a consistent and unified experience across all devices and platforms.
Lexmark says that Perceptive Checklist Capture has applications in almost every industry, including retail (incident management), government (public assistance), banking (new loan or account automation), insurance (claims), back office (HR case management), manufacturing (logistics document management) and higher education (enrolment).
As an example, it cites the case of a loss prevention agent who, on arrival at the location of a reported theft, can launch a smartphone app giving instant access to open case folders. On opening a folder, the agent is presented with a checklist of items that still need to be collected, e.g. photographic evidence. From the same interface, the agent can take a photo, which is automatically added to the folder. When a checklist is complete, the case is automatically flagged as ready for review.
Workflow automation is a priority for Xerox too. Xerox Large Enterprise Operations recently announced four new document processing solutions for specific applications and industries. Involving a high degree of consultancy, they combine workflow and content management from Datawatch and Hyland with change management, process improvement, technical implementation, integration into existing systems and data capture through imaging and scanning.
The four solutions are:
Workflow Automation Solution for Supply Chain Optimisation – to help retail organisations manage in-store returns and reconcile orders, stock levels and supplier payments. Xerox says that the fist company to use it – a large retail chain in Canada – has reduced the labour required for reconciliation by 50% and cut associated printing by 33%;
HR On-boarding – to create a unified workflow for the provisioning of laptops, tablets, telephones, corporate IDs, cars and other assets to new employees. It brings together information from disparate sources including paper, scans, web forms and phone information;
Loan Origination – to manage the capture and archiving of information needed for loan applications from paper, electronic forms and email, with routing to loan officers via a tailored workflow; and
Health Records Information Management – to provide clinicians with a unified view of patient data held in paper archives, Dicom systems and electronic patient record (EPR) systems. The system is already being used by The Luton and Dunstable NHS Trust, which has digitised about 1.2 million paper patient records, freeing up floor space for a new cardiac ward and improving patient and clinical safety.
For smaller businesses and channel partners, Xerox is developing packaged cloud offerings. For example, it now offers its DocuShare document management solution through a private cloud, giving SMEs a simpler, faster deployment option with remote access from anywhere in the UK.
Sharp, too, provides a range of cloudbased solutions designed to improve the productivity and efficiency of users, including its own Cloud Portal Office (CPO) secure document sharing and collaboration solution.
It has just released a new version, CPO v1.3, with a number of enhancements including the ability to share files securely with non-subscribers using time-limited links; email notifications informing colleagues that a document has been shared and is available for viewing; and mobile access to files on smartphones, tablets and laptops, with the ability to select which documents to sync to which devices.
Jason Cort, Sharp’s European director of product planning and marketing, said: “With many high profile information attacks in recent years, security remains a major priority for businesses. CPO is a robust and secure cloud collaboration solution specifically for businesses, putting them firmly back in control of documents throughout their lifecycle, while giving employees the flexibility they need to work together wherever they are.”