By Howard Frear, Director of Sales & Marketing, EASY Software
We recently hosted a very interesting partner day in London – something we do every year to get a chance to debate the latest technology advances in and around electronic document management, but also to network and discuss the way the market is changing. Attendees included senior representatives from important firms like Northamber, Fujitsu, Touchstone, Cognite, Spigraph and Paper River.
I can’t capture the whole day for you, but I’d like to try and communicate some of the excitement of this event to you, as I think some genuinely insightful content came out of it. For a start, we heard that the market, despite the lingering after-effects of the recession, is pretty buoyant, with the general sentiment that there is a lot of activity at the moment – both from the public sector, particularly local government, as well as corporate buyers, particularly in finance and planning.
In finance, our partners are saying, the focus is around invoice capture, where enterprises are developing ways to improve the time to process accounts-payable invoices plus gain more efficiency. But it isn’t only ‘the big boys’ doing this: other partners say they are seeing a lot of interest in document management from SMEs trying to move away from traditional, silo-based ways of working or looking to move off file systems coming to the end of their natural life. A definite common theme is the desire to establish more cross-over between different parts of the business.
What about moving off paper? Our business leaders say they are seeing ‘big moves’ towards paper-light or paperless environments. For example, the oil and gas sector is reported as being very interested in document management, as it strives to become more efficient at processing transactions and handling and deriving value from information.
Consolidation – particularly consolidation of buildings in the public sector, interestingly – is forcing customers to reduce their reliance on paper. Increasingly, other drivers are the use of technologies such as mobile and web.
Other partners say the workforce and what is expected of it is changing too, with the rise of an increasingly ‘devolved’ workforce, leading to a growing need to empower knowledge workers like GPs, who are increasingly scanning and saving documents straight from their desk. By the same token, a growing emphasis on enterprise collaboration, whereby organisations want the ability to capture the way people do business so they can manage their documents and collaborate around them more naturally and efficiently, is also a definite route of travel.
A unifying theme for all: our partners say if there’s any one thing their clients want, it’s business improvement. Business productivity, underlined by the all-important return on investment, is more than ever how technology is being evaluated out. Whatever companies invest in, they want to know that there’s going to be a clear ROI at the end of it, say these practitioners.
In practical terms, who’s driving the push to document capture? It seems it’s no longer just Finance driving such initiatives; our partners say that in 2013 it could just as easily be HR or the operational side of the business. Traditionally such functions have been less vocal about the need to work better with information; now they are not so shy and voicing clear business needs, asking where and how they can achieve tangible improvement and drive new efficiencies via electronic document management solutions.
It seems such initiatives are becoming more wide-reaching and ambitious, as business managers consolidate operations and attempt to make processes more joined-up and transparent. Driven by a demand for easier information accessibility and easy content-sharing, enterprise collaboration and multi-channel customer communication are emerging as the dominant trends in this sector.
If you want to find out more, video highlights from the EASY Partner Day can be watched here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mk3PYDahTA8.