The future according to Invu
Stuart Evans, chief technology officer of document management company Invu, highlights the key trends affecting businesses in 2015. Over the page, he explains how organisations can get rid of paper without compromising compliance
If Microsoft is to be believed, the megatrends of the moment are Mobile, Cloud, Big Data and Social. And, to be fair, the signs are there. While IT departments are still trying to spell BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), the population as a whole is now used to, and expects, mobility. Desktop sales are in steep decline and smartphones, touch-laptops and tablets dominate. Humans expect data to come to them and software vendors now have to add a twist of mobile to everything they do – which can be a shock for some. Mobility will continue to grow into an expected aspect of business solutions.
The mobile revolution is very visible – we all love toys – but the Cloud revolution is much more disruptive because it affects not just software functionality but the business terms that surround it too. The Cloud is not just ‘hosting’; it’s a whole new approach to software and its consumption. It will change the speed of delivery and software sales cycle and enable new solutions to be assembled as IT barriers are torn down.
From a vendor’s perspective, the Cloud is a maturing and powerful new enabler that is ripe for use. Customers are still wondering what it really is, but they will all too soon be demanding its benefits: reduced IT barriers for projects, Opex commercials, powerful computing features and scaling not possible on a normal business network. Cloud is now in its prime time of disruption when it is vital for vendors to embrace it and of real interest to customers.
Cloud is a great place to collaborate and in 2015 we will see many vertical Cloud apps appearing that solve collaboration challenges and an increase in the use of self-service in the Cloud. It means companies do not need to run their own 24/7 server solutions; they can work in the Cloud with integration into back office systems.
If Cloud is a little stratospheric, then ‘Big Data’ is more or less surreal to our customers. Nonetheless, the new generation of business user understands the value and nuances of data and wants to use data to help drive their decisions and processes. Access to good quality plentiful data can enhance or completely transform solutions. For most businesses this will not be an overnight epiphany, but will smoulder for a few years as disparate systems and poor data are herded into the new Big Data world. For 2015, we’ll see an increased demand for better and effortless reporting from a more articulate customer.
To prepare the ground, start organising your data – show it some respect. Most companies are not measuring the correct things and are lying to themselves about the accuracy of their data capture. 2015 will be the year companies look to clean up their data capture process to ensure they are analysing information that is beneficial to them.
Meanwhile, social has caught the attention of all businesses as a ‘new’ way to reach and interact with prospects, customers and competitors. Contentfocused solutions will have to offer more value from social content, events and software systems than ever before; these features will start to become deal winners. Long-standing businesses still have a hard time understanding the ‘Social’ role in their business, but many consultancies are doing a roaring trade helping them make the turn, and this activity will only increase next year.
And what of Paper?
Last year I predicted growing resentment of the photocopier, and I am pleased to say there were signs of this – with sales of those ghastly machines finally taking a downward turn. I am sorry to say that change is happening more slowly than I would like, but department heads now understand that paper and the machines that produce them must be removed from business processes in order to achieve greater efficiency and competitive edge. I am begging business leaders to accelerate the trend and replace over-priced copiers with a few good quality scanners and put this clumsy era of computers for paper to bed.
With over 100% penetration of mobile devices in the UK, printing is now seen as a dirty activity and is being limited to transportation/delivery/ shop-floor use cases. We shall see the continued battle against paper. Clean desks and paper-free offices are appearing in many places now and not because of the ‘90s paperless dream, but because of the clarity of vision of new business owners and progressive IT directors
Beginning of the end for shared drives and huge mail boxes Many companies are still having trouble knowing where important information is kept. They have bloated mail boxes and chaotic file shares that are not visible to the business in any way – and Dropbox is only making it worse.
In 2015 I predict that many more companies will be shutting down their file shares and taking control of the information in there. These shares have been ‘dumping’ grounds and many business owners will be looking to introduce easy discovery of information and policy-driven control of access. After all, everything you do at work is corporate property.
Add to this the fact that 80% of your shared drive is irrelevant, a duplicate copy or digital rubbish. Companies are realising that if they discard the waste and put the remaining quality documents into a document management system, business information is known and access is far more efficient and IT money is saved.
Companies are also starting to reduce their reliance on email – and the huge email boxes that employees hog. Email is like ‘digital paper’ in disguise. Email is a slush of notifications, conversations and unmanaged agreements that can be moved around without anything but the simplest of restrictions. Who’s to say an employee won’t email something important to the competition? Using a company depository platform extends a business’s control and will help you prevent your email turning into chaos.
Changes in how people use Invu?
Whilst we expect users to keep enjoying good Document Management, I expect to see many more Finance departments automating their Accounts Payable function to make their processes more efficient and their controls more effective. Invoice Processing is a fabulous solution that is high on benefit and relevance to businesses of varying size. Customers are now seeing the need for Workflow solutions. They understand that a process needs to be embodied in a system and not just described in a standard operating procedure document, printed out and left on a shelf. Auditors now expect, and hope, to dock into an electronic store of data and electronic audit trails that make their job easier too.
Stuart Evans is Chief Technical Officer at Invu Plc. Since joining the company in 2007, he has overseen the development of Invu Document Management, taking the Invu product portfolio from a simple eDM solution to a suite of products that can automate processes, provide real-time information and offer security and compliance of critical data. Invu’s products are used by 1,600 organisations in diverse sectors including financial and professional services; manufacturing, engineering and construction; estate management; education; housing associations; transport & logistics; retail and wholesale; and leisure.