Enhancing Business Processes and Productivity
"Information is the oil of the 21st century," said Peter Sondergaard, a senior vice president of research at Gartner and a presenter at the Xerox simple@work event in New York City. He stressed that information is a vital corporate asset and that companies now compete on—and with—data.
More than 800 Xerox customers and other industry professionals attended the event, which focused on increasing productivity and simplifying business processes—both digital and paper-based.
Sondergaard noted that digital disruption occurs at three levels of a business: the process, the model and the moment. He said that many companies spend most of their information technology budget on automating business processes, when they should be spending more on enhancing and creating business models and business moments.
As an example of a disruptive business model, he mentioned Friendsurance, a company that uses social networking to enable people to offer each other a small amount of money to cover the deductible in the event of an insurance claim. Sondergaard's example of a disruptive business moment was a company that offers insurance for a day or a specific event. He called this "competing in the moment."
Sondergaard added that once a business operation is agile, the IT infrastructure must become agile to meet the company's needs in a time of continuous change. "CIOs need to focus on what their CEO is focusing on," he pointed out.
Another presenter at the event, Amir Dabirian, CIO of the California State University at Fullerton, gave an example of how his IT organization became more agile. Believing that organizations should provide their employees with a level of technology that's comparable to what they have at home, he gave 1,200 faculty and staff members iPads. "That changed our paper-based culture to a 'less paper' culture," he said.
Realizing that no organization can be completely paperless, Sondergaard added a Xerox solution that would let iPad and smartphone users print documents from their mobile devices in a secure way. Employees also can scan documents and distribute them digitally. As a result of these changes, the university reduced its paper costs by about $250,000, and it used some of the money saved to buy more iPads.
"We did research on what people print and why they print," said another presenter, Don Dixon, senior vice president, Global Document Outsourcing at Xerox. "We found that people print documents because they want to read, annotate, share and store them. But we asked if that was really useful and whether there was a digital alternative.
"However, to get people to change their behavior, there has to be something in it for them. To motivate a user to give up print and try a digital approach, the reward has to be significant. Companies have to brew a mix of approaches that are appropriate for the organization—one that makes the lifecycle of a document more efficient."