Businesses to enter a new era of decentralisation

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Businesses to enter a new era of decentralisation

London, 16 February 2012 - New figures from a study sponsored by Ricoh show that by 2020 the impact of new technology in the workplace will force businesses into a new era of decentralisation. The research, conducted by the Economist Intelligence unit, shows that 63 per cent of business leaders predict a shift towards a more decentralised business model and that responsibility for business decision making will move from centralised management boards towards individual employees. 

“We believe that businesses will be more process orientated, ensuring that critical information is more centralised and data can be received, stored and retrieved by employees. This will mean decision making can be less hierarchical and allow employees, who are collaborating directly with customers, to make important business decisions, without delay,” says David Mills, Executive Vice President, Operations, Ricoh Europe. 

In the past decentralised structures were generally criticised for their inefficiency, duplication and lack of consistent strategic direction.  By 2020, effective business processes will empower workers to better meet the needs of the market place and enable organisations to be more agile.

Supporting closer customer collaboration is essential as by 2020, business leaders believe that customers will be the main source of new product or service ideas.  Furthermore, 86 per cent of business leaders agree that customers will become an integral part of internal decision-making and that project teams will typically include people from outside the organisation such as customers and business partners.

At the heart of successful decentralisation in 2020, lies a network of integrated processes to manage information, and ensure that it is accessible by key knowledge workers, wherever they are, to make business decisions. In the future, there will also be a need to consider how experts outside the organisation can input and retrieve information to act on behalf of the business. 85.7 per cent of business leaders agree that project teams will typically include members from outside the organisation (for example, customers, partners, communities). 

Information will also need to be created, stored and retrieved securely by knowledge workers.   Central governance is essential to protect business critical data, one of the organisation’s most valuable assets.  However this will be challenging as currently 43 per cent of all business critical document processes in European organisations rely on hard copy data and only 22 per cent of organisations currently have a fully automated workflow.* 

Mills says, “In the new era of decentralisation it will be essential for businesses to do more to adapt to the digital world, especially as critical information will need to be accessed by employees, many of whom will be working virtually or outside the business.  

By choosing the right partners to help them optimise business critical processes, they can ensure that information is controlled and secure. It should also be easily accessible by employees and project teams to act in the organisation’s best interests. With this approach they can reduce duplication, ensure consistency and importantly gain an accurate insight into the costs that are being incurred across the business.”

The Economist Intelligence Unit surveyed 567 executives in September-October 2011 on their expectations of the future technology impact on business. The survey sample is global, with 32% of respondents based in Europe, 29% in North America and 28% in Asia-Pacific. They hail from over 20 sectors, with financial services, government and public sector (including healthcare), education, professional services, IT and technology, and manufacturing especially prominent in the sample. 46% of the respondents hold C-suite positions and they work in organisations of different sizes, with 43% earning annual revenue of US$500m or more.

To download the Executive summary visit

* Coleman Parkes Research - Ricoh Process Efficiency Index

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About Ricoh

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).

For further information, please contact:
Ricoh Europe PLC
Janice Gibson/Louise Yarrall 
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7465 1153
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