Technology has always been the main driver of change at our workplaces.
The advent of more advanced hardware and the growth of cloud-based services has provided us with increased ability to work efficiently outside of the office.
Digitization of our offices has certainly empowered the workforce and unlocked opportunities to become more efficient.
However, there are new challenges posed by this evolution for both corporate IT and finance departments.
Contemporary technology decision-makers have a host of challenges to negotiate:
• Amid digital transformation, how can we cost effectively keep information and data safe?
• How can we affordably deploy new solutions?
• What new technological innovations should be capitalized on?
• How can we use these advancements to differentiate ourselves in the market?
• What technology does the office of the future need and where do we need to invest to meet these requirement?
These are challenging questions - consistently on the agendas of decision-makers in all kinds of businesses across the world.
At the same time, budgetary and cultural barriers make initiating change an even tougher task.
In order to offer reassurance, decision-makers seek informed guidance from their trusted suppliers.
It’s not just about getting the right technology - it’s also about selecting the right partners to work with.
These challenges were discussed with a wide range of decision-makers, to get their perspective on how document management technology will affect their organization in the coming years.
What follows is the result of these discussions.
A few of the respondents have had the chance to trial remote printing.
The convenience it promises, and the ability to print sensitive or important documents at other locations, even directly on a client’s printer, proved popular.
Respondents said that they expect remote printing to grow in popularity. Some even commented that remote printing would become the ‘norm’ within the next few years.
“Have you printed, or had the opportunity to try printing in any of the following ways?”
Base = 200 (KSA & UAE)
“Remote printing could be a valuable addition; I think it will be useful because we have already embraced the cloud.”
“It would make my work easier and I would be able to access services in seconds from anywhere.”
Aviation sector respondent, Saudi Arabia
However, the technology will have to overcome certain barriers in order to become a market mainstay, including having the right devices and infrastructure.
Many companies have to wait until legacy models are upgraded to wireless-enabled devices. Moreover, there are also security concerns that need to be addressed.
For example, remote printing enables users to print at locations outside of their building. This has led early adopters of the technology to restrict the user base to senior employees alone, and many are yet to roll-out remote printing more widely.
Overall, 63% see value in the ability to print from a smartphone, tablet, or laptop directly to an office printer at their workplace.
Those not interested in remote printing tend to be doing jobs where remote working may not have an impact, or involve only small print volumes, such as industrial manufacturing or in store retail roles.
The use of wireless and smartphone printing is still relatively limited - 67% of all respondents have never used a smartphone to print.
However, 30% had tried printing from a laptop to a work printer using a wireless network connection, demonstrating that the trend of wireless printing is slowly on the rise.
The proliferation of remote working, the increasing use of personal devices in the workplace, and the trend of end-users embracing greater connectivity and cloud-based solutions will ramp-up pressure on decision-makers to evaluate and implement these solutions in the coming years.
Nearly half (35%) of all businesses today allow BYOD, an upward trend from the 26% reported in the 2013 Western Europe Office Insights Report.
There is significant variation in the reported incidence of BYOD, and this is by job function.
Sales and marketing workers are most likely to say they are permitted to use their own personal devices, while those working in government and energy sector roles are the least likely to be empowered with BYOD.
This, however, will not stop BYOD becoming more prevalent in the market.
Of the 65% working in organizations that do not allow BYOD, 26% say they would like to use their personal smartphone for work purposes, and 38% said that they would like to use their own laptops in the workplace.
The attractiveness of BYOD is clear and it offers a wide range of benefits to both decision-makers and end-users.
For end-users, the benefits tend to revolve around increased productivity and greater flexibility in where they can work, alongside the comfort of using a familiar device.
Decision-makers also benefit like end-users, and allowing BYOD also potentially reduces hardware expenditure and the need for training end-users.
As with remote printing, several companies allowing BYOD currently restrict this to senior management and other key personnel. In addition, personal devices in the workplace today are still used for calling and for emails, as opposed to document production and sharing.
Nevertheless, both decision-makers and end-users have reported concerns around BYOD.
The most common ones center on:
• How to ensure the separation of business and personal data
• Trusting staff to not abuse the privilege and spend time on personal tasks
• How to guard against loss of company data if devices are lost or stolen
• What support should be offered if the device breaks and whose responsibility is it
• Responsibility for on-going costs if a device is used for both work and personal reasons
These worries have resulted in decision-makers being ambivalent to deploying BYOD. Many companies wait for rivals and peers to roll out BYOD first, so that they can learn from their experiences.
There is an expectation that the increased use of digital technology will happen at the expense of print.
Any savings generated by transitioning to digital would most likely be invested back into newer technologies or more devices.
A few responded that savings on printing would be minimal and have no wider impact. This underlines the fact that businesses are gradually moving towards a digitally-driven future.
Over 29% of respondents see certain types of printing becoming even more vital – high-quality color, 3D, and the production of promotional literature – reinforcing that digital and print will continue to co-exist for the time being.
Long-term views on anticipated spending, however, are polarized.
While digital growth and cost efficiencies are driving expected drops in spending, 22% still say that they will spend more on printing, copying, and scanning software and devices, and 27% have said that they expect to spend less in this area in three years.
Those who said they would spend more cited the reasons as general business growth, more expected paperwork, and the desire to invest in the latest technology.
Those who said they would spend less felt that they would derive savings from the use of digital technology, focusing on cutting spending, or turning to document management solutions to boost efficiency.
The level of perceived value attached to automated document processing increased remarkably in 2016 as compared to the 2013 Western Europe Office Insights Report.
Only 26% of respondents in 2013 saw automatic document conversion as valuable, however, this figure increased to 67% in the 2016 report.
The automatic capture and processing of scanned documents was viewed as valuable by 70% of respondents, up from 38% in 2013, and 60% felt Optical Character Recognition (OCR) was beneficial, compared to just 38% in 2013.
Being able to send documents to the cloud automatically was seen as useful by 65%, and automatic document finishing was seen as advantageous by 64% of responders (39% in 2013).
These figures show that automated document technology has become increasingly important to businesses, most likely because they remove effort from routine office tasks, re-directing energies into other areas such as new business.
This freeing-up of time is a primary benefit that can be unlocked by automation, and beyond this, any efficiencies that can be introduced into an increasingly challenging work environment are valuable.
The value of technology in optimizing working practices is universally agreed upon, despite the challenges in selecting the right solution and ensuring that the technology is secure and affordable.
The regions covered in this report highlight that there is a huge appetite to explore technology that can unlock opportunities for greater efficiency.
This was particularly noticeable with remote printing, BYOD, and document automation.
This is natural, as although there is a push towards digital, it is clear that offices will not be going entirely paperless for some time to come.
Any technology that helps to optimize both digital and paper workflows is a benefit to businesses of all types and sizes.