Why Big Data is paving the path to paperless working
David Mills Executive Vice President, Operations, Ricoh Europe
Over the last few years, much has been made of the vision of the ‘paperless office’ – an environment where the volume of paper-based documents produced and stored by businesses are reduced or removed entirely as an impact of digitisation. Recent research reviewed the thoughts of global business leaders today and it appears that a significant number believe the vision of the paperless office will become a reality. 59 per cent of those surveyed agree that the concept of non-digital information will be utterly foreign to employees by 2020*. However the reality is that today organisations are still dependent on paper, with 43 per cent of all business critical document processes relying on hard copy data**.
While it is unlikely that paper will vanish altogether, office workers will still need to write and print to some extent, there is no doubt that the big data explosion is bringing a new dimension to the paperless vision and acting as a catalyst for organisations to get closer to this goal. As the volumes of information in the workplace are increasing, there are some very practical reasons for organisations to accelerate the digitisation of their business document processes in the big data environment; firstly many businesses no longer have the physical storage space for paper based records and archives. Secondly, in a challenging economic climate, organisations are actively looking to exploit the benefits of more client data to influence customer led innovation and ensure faster business decision making. CIOs are all too aware that a first class approach to information sharing can drive up profits, ensure more agile business operations and empower employees. Thirdly, the use of less paper is necessary to reduce environmental impacts and carbon footprint.
To reach a paperless environment, businesses need to automate all business critical processes so that both digital and paper information is integrated and can be accessed from one place, at any time. Currently just 11 per cent of European businesses have a fully automated process to manage business critical documents . And European businesses are estimated to be spending in excess of 362 million hours per year of their working time on managing critical document processes**. A modest ten per cent improvement in efficiency, as a result of optimised document processes, could equate to a profit increase of approximately €46 billion.
Forward-thinking organisations are already engaging with organisations like Ricoh to help them digitise and optimise their current paper based business critical processes and get closer to the vision of a more efficient, profitable and paperless office.
Organisations that have yet to take the first step should not leave it much longer. Instead they should begin to explore a vision that extends beyond using less paper to one where document and information processes are connected; the big data explosion is adding business value and knowledge workers are able to realise their full potential.
* Economist Intelligence Unit. Frontiers of disruption: The next decade of technology in business. Sponsored by Ricoh. October 2011. www.ricoh-europe.com/thoughtleadership
** Coleman Parkes Research - Ricoh Process Efficiency Index http://thoughtleadership.ricoh-europe.com/
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 JPY413.9 billion (approx €3.5 billion based on the US Federal Reserve exchange rate 31 March 2011). Ricoh group’s worldwide sales totalled JPY1,942 billion (approx €16.4 billion based on the US Federal Reserve exchange rate 31 March 2011).
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Ricoh Europe PLC
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