The Big Data Conundrum
By Carsten Bruhn, Executive Vice President at Ricoh Europe
The huge volume of information flowing through organisations is increasing at an alarming rate. Dubbed ‘big data,’ this trend presents both challenges and opportunities for companies. A recent report1 states that, “the increasing volume and detail of information captured by enterprises, the rise of multimedia, social media….will fuel exponential growth in data for the foreseeable future”. It also suggests that “as organisations create and store more transactional data in digital form, they can collect more accurate and detailed performance information on everything from product inventories to sick days, and therefore expose variability and boost performance”.
At Ricoh, we believe the capability to manage the big data explosion will be the defining factor in European businesses’ ability to maintain a competitive advantage. In preparing to manage the data, it is essential to think about the critical business processes that will convert the data into knowledge, enable it to be shared efficiently between employees across the organisation, and converted into action as a result. By doing so, C-level executives will have unprecedented access to a data rich landscape to support or drive future decisions. By adopting the right approach to big data they can gain unique insights into their organisation and their customers, improve efficiencies and ultimately add value to the bottom line.
These benefits of increased productivity and profitability are applicable to the public and private sectors. When we speak to public sector organisations, they tell us that breaking down big data is high on their list of priorities, in particular, to ensure they remain compliant with the regulations in place to protect confidential documents and manage records.
However, a recent survey by Coleman Parkes Research2 shows that the majority of individuals in public sector organisations continue to receive and manage their own documents directly without collaboration or notification to other departments. This is true, for 41 per cent of organisations in the education sector and 34 per cent in healthcare. This approach means that the overall value of the data cannot be realised by the entire organisation, duplication of efforts is likely and the benefits of fast, access to valuable information are not being realised. What’s more it leaves them susceptible to compliance breaches as information is difficult to track and manage. But there are success stories. We recently worked with a European company in the Healthcare sector who identified the need to transform and streamline the HR and Accounts processes to maximise productivity and compliance. Since the introduction of more efficient automated processes the HR department have experienced a reduction in finding a single piece of information from 6.7mins to 30 seconds. At the same time the accounts department reduced search process time from 4 minutes to 30 seconds per document. The company has also generated annual cost savings of approximately €345k annually as a result of the optimisation.
The situation isn’t exclusive to the public sector. Across Europe, 43 per cent of all those surveyed by Coleman Parkes** stated that they were still relying on hard copy methods for their business critical document processes with just 22 per cent of organisations using a fully automated workflow. In the heavily regulated financial services industry, less than half of European organisations (45 per cent) confirmed that they have the ability to conduct audit trails for all confidential business critical documents and 20 per cent said that they have no audit processes in place at all. These figures are significant and could put companies at odds with compliance regulations such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act which mandates that organisations must ensure that business critical documents are not altered, destroyed or misplaced.
As well as compliance breaches, another big data conundrum faced by organisations across Europe is how to reduce the time and money they spend on managing it. Approximately 362 million man hours** are spent across Europe every year to manage business critical documents alone and the employees responsible, admit there is significant room for improvement, citing that just a 10% improvement in efficiency would generate a potential profit increase of €46 billion** across Europe. It is therefore essential that business leaders act now to address the situation within their own organisations and uncover the process inefficiencies that exist. A good example of the benefits to be gained is from a Ricoh customer based in Germany. The accounting firm transformed the processes used to produce its document heavy annual audit reports. Today it has a centralised management system and an automated document workflow. It is gaining approximately €600K euro cost savings per year and is enjoying a consistent and productive way of working.
By taking a closer look at the overall business processes, including those that are associated with the management of documents and information, businesses can fully harness the benefits of big data. It doesn’t have to be about problems – with the right systems in place it can be about profitability. Conundrum solved.
A whitepaper can be downloaded from www.ricoh-europe.com/thoughtleadership
1McKinsey Big Data report, May 2011 http://www.mckinsey.com/mgi/publications/big_data/
2Ricoh Process Efficiency Index, June 2011, conducted by Coleman Parkes Research – www.ricoh-europe.com/thoughtleadership
Ricoh Company, Ltd. (Ricoh Company) is a Fortune Global 500 company specialising in technology and services that transform high volume, document intensive business processes into more efficient ones. This is achieved through Ricoh’s expertise in Managed Document Services, Production Printing, Office Solutions and IT Services.
By working with Ricoh, businesses can streamline the way they work, become more efficient and profitable, and share knowledge more effectively within their organisations. With a global workforce of 109,014, Ricoh operates in Europe, the Americas, Asia Pacific, China and Japan.
Ricoh Europe Holdings Plc is a public limited company and the EMEA headquarters of Ricoh Company with operations located in London, United Kingdom and Amstelveen, the Netherlands. In the fiscal year ended 31 March 2011, revenues from Ricoh's EMEA operations totalled ¥413.9 billion (approx US$4.99 billion). Ricoh Company's worldwide sales totalled ¥1,942 billion (approx US$23.4 billion) during the year ended 31 March 2011.
About the Ricoh Process Efficiency Index.
The Ricoh Process Efficiency Index was conducted by independent research firm, Coleman Parkes, and commissioned by Ricoh Europe. Survey respondents held full responsibility for managing the processes surrounding the critical business documents inside their organisations and were employed within: Financial/accounting, sales, HR or payroll, customer or client information, legal, warehouse and supply chain. The research consisted of 458 telephone surveys within large (1000+ employee) organisations, located in Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, The Nordics (Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark), Spain, Switzerland and the UK. The organisations are based within the education, legal, utilities, healthcare, manufacturing and financial services sectors. Qualitative interviews were also completed with European CIOs to gain further commentary about their business critical document processes.
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