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Are Customers Focused on Achieving a Paperless Office or Digital Transformation? Or Both?

I’m just back from the DocuWare User Conference and it was a high point of the year for me.  Listening to customers talk about their goals, challenges, aspirations—and how they may be changing—never fails to be insightful. I was also paying close attention to the way customers talk about their goals relative to what industry analysts present as business trends.  For example, to what extent are customers focused on “going paperless” versus “digital transformation”?     

My key observations: Customers are very much still focused on the challenge of making the vision of the paperless office a reality.  Our customers have found some creative ways to give the cultural shift to digital workflows a strong nudge. While they don’t talk in the jargon of “digital transformation”, it is absolutely what they are striving for – and they are truly excited by results.  Here are my 4 key take aways from listening to customers.

Take away 1: Going to the paperless office continues to meets with A LOT of resistance because people are emotionally attached to working with paper.  This is a dynamic that managers have to be ready to take on.  Leadership matters in overcoming resistance to paperless initiatives.  AIIM notes that “mandates from above are the motivating trigger for the first paper-free process for 48% or organizations.

Take away 2: There are both carrot and stick approaches to facilitating a transition to new digital workflows.  An example of the carrot, some companies outfit employees with desktop scanners and second monitors in advance to indicate, we’re making a big change and we’re going facilitate making digital work a success for you.  The sticks – thinning the ranks of conveniently placed printers and letting the paper supplies run out for days at a time, thus making old habits too painful to continue.  

Take away 3: The pain of the cultural change pays off when digital workflow initiatives hit their stride. A few of the sounds bytes from our customers who had “crossed the chasm” to a paperless office and digital workflows:

  • “It’s been a total game changer on a day-to-day basis”
  • “Addictive”
  • “The Board was very skeptical, and now they are total believers. We had a pay back of less than 3 months.”
  • “Having our business critical information well-organized and there when we need it—priceless.”
  • “We’re on the path to making this way of working part of the culture of the company.”

Take away 4:  Going paperless and digital transformation are indeed two sides of the same coin. AIIM research indicates that 72% of organizations believe that “Business at the speed of paper will be unacceptable in a few years’ time.” The companies making the effort to modernize their processes are reaping the rewards, and they know that they are just getting started. 

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