Content Management: The Surprisingly Obvious Starting Point For Digital Transformation

Bil Khan

Part 2 in the Content Management ROI series

Digital transformation is quickly rising to the top of the business agenda. Across nearly all industries, executives fear being outperformed by digital competitors. Some see the potential for breakthrough opportunities made possible through advances in digital technologies. The writing is on the wall: Digital innovators are redefining long-established business models, turning competitive landscapes upside-down, and rendering obsolete the value propositions of established products and services.

There are all kinds of studies and papers and examples focusing on how to drive digital transformation. But the challenge for most organizations is where to start. It can take time to develop the right strategy, get it approved at the board level, secure budgets, and start the implementation and change management program. Digital transformation initiatives can require far-reaching changes – including organizational structures, processes, resources, culture and values – and related networks.

The problem is that there’s no time to waste. Companies need to get started today, because by the time external pressures make apparent the need to shift strategy, it could be too late.

The question is, how?

Start simple – and start now – with ECM

Here’s an idea: While you’re busy creating your digital strategy and securing resources, lay the foundation with an enterprise content management (ECM) solution that prepares your unstructured content for use by a digitally transformed enterprise. Unstructured content includes everything from emails and attachments to Microsoft Office files, videos, CAD drawings, claims, medical notes and test reports, call center records, and recorded phone conversations. These assets contain critical information that core systems cannot capture, and yet are critical to day-to-day operations and processes. In addition, they can yield valuable insights and can be shared with partners to facilitate closer collaboration, automation, transparency, and efficiency.

Increasingly, our customers understand that if they are serious about digital transformation, they need a strategy for handling this unstructured content. 80% is a huge proportion of your information to have trapped in silos, disconnected and inaccessible for analysis or reuse within digitally transformed processes. In fact, I believe it’s impossible to realize the full benefit of digital transformation initiatives without a strategy for unstructured content. It’s essential to having an intelligent, digital, touchless end-to-end processes.

A real-world example

To illustrate, let’s consider a real-world example: invoice processing. Traditionally, it’s a very high-touch process that costs the average organization US$12.90 for every invoice.

Why so much? Think about how many invoices come into organizations as email attachments. Each attachment must be manually opened, reviewed, approved, and funneled to accounts payable for check creation, distribution, and recording in the general ledger. As long as invoices are unstructured documents – with the actual data locked up in the attachment – the degree to which this process can be digitally transformed is minimal.

Enter ECM, which can extract the data in email attachments instantly – as they flow into email inboxes – so that it can flow automatically to a “smart” system for automated invoice processing. Now network business rules alert suppliers about errors and prevent incorrect invoices from entering your process workflow or back-end system at all. And if the invoice data does match what’s in the system, payment is handled in an automated, 100% touchless process.

Think less complexity, more strategy, and lightning-fast processing that can dramatically lower costs. And instead of spending time handling paper, exceptions, and phone calls, your AP team can focus on more strategic pursuits such as helping to free up cash and optimize working capital. You can also benefit from:

  • Accelerated cycle time
  • Automated exception-handling
  • Stronger compliance with internal and regulatory policies
  • Reduced savings leakage
  • Supplier visibility into payment status
  • Improved cash flow for your suppliers
  • Automated capture of negotiated terms

ECM is foundational to enabling smart, automated invoice management – and this is just one example of the many business processes in which unstructured content is involved.

Reap immediate benefits – then more

Introducing an ECM solution is the fastest, easiest way to begin executing on your digital strategy. Start by transforming unstructured content, freeing it from silos so that it can flow where you need it to go for analysis and reuse. You can even extend ECM through digital and mobile processes to supply chain partners and employees on the go. In other words, ECM prepares all your content for use within a digitally transformed business.

Meanwhile, as I pointed out in Part 1 of this blog series, you can reap huge cost savings along the way. Read the Forrester FEI report for more information.