Marten Bütow
26. December 2017 0
Collaboration

Digital office? Nothing of the sort. Help!

Digitization – that’s a sort of magic word. Some understand it as the transition from the Babylonian cuneiform tablet to the electric typewriter, while others speak of IoT, big data, fully automated customer processes and bots that detect our wishes before they even crossed our mind.

Digitization in concrete form

But the digitization debate must occasionally come to the point. Bitkom recently attempted that by means of a survey on the “digital office” that specifically addressed the question of what inroads electronic document management has made at work. Or to put it another way: What the half-time score in the game between “paper” and “PDF” is.

As part of that, our association compared companies with a workforce of between 20 and 500 employees with large enterprises – in relation to the use of enterprise content management and document management systems. The key finding: My mind is in a different world; I’m writing here about virtualization, the cloud, the digital workplace, collaboration, etc. But the reality – at least in the SME sector – is different: Barely one-third of the randomly sampled companies uses digital document management for archiving, their incoming mail or sharing information at the organization. In contrast, 90 percent of large enterprises are already “digital” – although I ask myself how the other 10 percent manage their documents.

Getting a handle on documents

Because documents (whatever you understand by them) have one thing in common: Their number keeps on growing over time – offers, invoices, personnel files, letters to customers, process descriptions, contracts. Some youngsters recently told me that, when they worked for a leading German mechanical engineering company during the holidays, they were tasked with typing things out of books! Also a form of digitization. And also a way to help increase the quantity of documents. The number of documents is also reciprocal to the ability to keep track of them. Searching for documents is becoming a relevant time factor.

The focus is on efficient working

Well, I’m sure you can imagine that such approaches are not exactly conducive to enhancing a company’s efficiency. A digital workplace need not always be rocket science and support modern, mobile forms of work with artificial intelligence. But it should create maximum efficiency for employees beforehand. That includes coherent integration of different services – not stand-alone solutions.

An efficient workplace is a core component for a company to perform well. Whereas large enterprises benefit from collaboration functions for teamwork and knowledge management, these advantages are hardly known at small and medium-sized businesses. Did you know that our SME sector is the backbone of the German economy? It would be great if things stayed that way. Digital workplaces could make an important contribution to that. And that doesn’t mean replacing stone tablets 😉 But it also means we need solutions that are tailored to SMEs.

What should the dynamic workplace be like so that companies are fit for the future? Benny Tritsch and Brian Madden have addressed the issue for us in a white paper. You can download it here.

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