Where firms can start when behind on digital shift

By Mukesh Bector | May 31, 2023
Epson Regional Head, East and West Africa, Mukesh Bector. [File, Standard]

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 organisation that needs to change.

Digitalisation in a company selling insurance will be wildly different from one in manufacturing or 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 has taken a global pandemic to encourage others.

This has been reflected in new research into the topic conducted by Epson, in a survey 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 per cent respondents from Kenya say digitalisation will, in general, be a priority over the next three years, and overall, 94 percent feel it is important to increase the level of digitalisation within their organisations.

Shift from paper

But like many others, knowing where to start can be tough. In fact, achieving more digitalisation is a challenge for nearly 72 per cent of the respondents.

Yet there’s one thing that unites every single journey towards a digital operation. And that’s the process of converting analogue information into something a digital system can use. In other words, to digitally transform, you must first digitalise.

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.

Doorway to digitalisation

This is where the humble scanner comes in. It’s the doorway to digitalisation. The gatekeeper that launches most organisations 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, organisations 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 out that 89 per cent Kenyans believe demand for digitalisation 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 digitalisation goals. 90 per cent of them recognise a key benefit of moving to scanned, digitised records is a reduced risk of data loss.

All this begs the question of how an organisation can begin or further its digital transformation, and where do 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 organisation.

While a full transformation should be a gradual and ongoing process, one of the earliest and the 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.

-The author is Epson Regional Head, East and West Africa.

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