Digital transformation: we’ve all heard the phrase a thousand times. It’s a buzzword that’s been around for a couple of decades. Yet it can mean different things depending on the organization that needs to change.
Digitalization in a company selling insurance will be wildly different from manufacturing and marketing soft drinks. And across the public sector, digital transformation will be distinct depending on the service being delivered. Health and patient record management will differ from the administration of justice or the delivery of education.
This means it can be a vague term, leading to wildly diverse levels of digital maturity across sectors and regions. While the concept might seem like a well-worn theme to some people, it’s taken a global pandemic to encourage others.
According to the European Investment Bank, nearly half [46%] of EU firms became more digital during the COVID-19 crisis[i]. In the Middle East, the UAE stands out as a digitally evolving nation. Yet these regions are behind the US, Singapore, and Hong Kong, with some African nations lagging badly[ii]. But it’s not because there’s a lack of will.
This has been reflected in new research into the topic conducted by Epson, in one of the biggest surveys of its kind posing questions to over 5,000 IT decision-makers, users, and influencers across 33 countries in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.
According to this research, 89% of respondents from Kenya say digitalization will, in general, be a priority over the next three years, and overall, 94% feel it is important to increase the level of digitalization within their organization.
But like many others, knowing where to start can be tough. In fact, achieving more digitalization is a challenge for nearly 72% of the respondents.
Yet there’s one thing that unites every single journey towards a digital operation. And that’s the process of converting analog information into something a digital system can use. In other words, to digitally transform, you must first digitalize.
This often requires shifting from a paper-based system to one where information – whether that’s patient records, rent payments, customer profiles, or invoicing details – is stored and managed electronically.
The Doorway to Digitalisation
This is where the humble scanner comes in. It’s the doorway to digitalization. The gatekeeper that launches most organizations onto their digital transformation path and keeps them heading in the right direction as they continue to feed information into a system.
Combined with software such as optical character recognition [OCR] that can ‘read’ a document and capture the information on it, organizations can enable the digital ‘eyes’ of a digital enterprise. Add to this robotic process automation [RPA] and artificial intelligence [AI], and the information can be extracted, manipulated, and made use of in any way a business or service provider might choose.
The research found that 89% of Kenyans believe the demand for digitalization is causing a greater need for new scanning technology. A further 89% agreed that they need to invest in more scanning technology to meet their digitalization goals. 90% of them recognize a key benefit of moving to scanned, digitized records is a reduced risk of data loss.
Taking the First Steps
All this begs the question of how an organization can begin or further its digital transformation, and where scanners fit in. Firstly, it’s important to understand why it needs to transform, how that will be achieved, and what the outcome will be.
Once clear, leaders need to evaluate their digital maturity. What systems are already digital and what skills are already within the business? This will allow leaders to consider how to get the right buy-in from all levels of the organization.
While a full transformation should be a gradual and ongoing process, one of the earliest and single most important changes a leader can make is to invest in scanning.
So, if you’re lagging and want to get a digital boost, now is the time to act.
Mukesh Bector, the author is Epson Regional Head, East, and West Africa.