Why hardware decisions can make or break your digital transformation efforts

Father working from home showing how digital technology is changing business

Already a key strategic initiative, digital transformation has taken on heightened importance in the wake of Coronavirus. 59%1 of IT decision makers say that pressures stemming from the pandemic have accelerated their digital transformation efforts. The ‘new normal’ is having a profound effect on what your hardware requirements will be in the future. To make sure your investments aren’t wasted, you should consider how your office technology fits into your long-term digital transformation strategy.

De-linked working changes investment priorities

While the stats vary, research2 predicts that by the end of 2021, 25-30% of the workforce will be working at home on multiple days a week. Remote working is not a new phenomenon brought on by the pandemic, but a steady trend which has been gaining traction over the last decade. With lots of high-profile brands announcing their commitment to a more flexible, hybrid approach to working, we can expect to see an accelerating decline in footfall, but the reality is that office’s role will simply be changing. Instead of the default for all working activity, it will be an option for tasks like face-to-face collaboration and the use of specialist resources.

Businesses, and their workforce, will now have the freedom to ask – what do I want to achieve and which working location best supports that? The role of the business and IT manager will be to make sure that technology never comes into that decision making, but acts as a silent facilitator for every working environment. For IT managers this will be a significant transition. Previously, companies prioritised onsite technology investment for the office, but if hybrid working is to function properly, now all working environments need to be treated equally. The aim should be to ensure a consistent working experience, regardless of location.

Digital transformation

Technology to support a hybrid reality

Against this backdrop, investment in the right technology is crucial. The focus should be on ensuring that normal company processes, such as Accounts Payable, or hiring processes can still function effectively despite more workers opting to stay remote on a part-time or full-time basis. Digitisation will be an important part of this remote-proofing, given that teams can’t work on physical documents together easily. By transforming physical documents into digital data, employees are not only making it available to team members based at home, but ensuring they are able to continue working on documents themselves even if they return home – enabling effective solo and team hybrid working.

Nearly half (49%) of business leaders view the digitisation of paper-based processes to be very important to business transformation initiatives 3 . However, despite the emphasis on transformation, 65% of IT decision makers believe paper will still be important to the workspace by 2025 4 . Regardless of developments in digital technology, previous predictions for the heralded ‘paperless office’ have not come to pass. In fact, even under such extreme conditions such as during the pandemic, during which digitisation increases, companies are often still unable to replace paper workflows with 100% digital 5 . The reality is that most companies still require physical documents at some point in common company workflows, whether that’s because they start in paper, or end in it.

What does this mean for investment? It means that at least in the future we can anticipate, IT managers will need to invest in technology which supports effective hybrid ways of working.

Choose the right hardware

Buying the right hardware is essential to creating a technology ecosystem that supports hybrid working. While it can be tempting to make investments based on previous buying decisions, or on cost saving, the world of today is fundamentally different than it was even 12 months ago. Today’s print and scan hardware needs to act as a hub for hybrid workflows. Connectivity options and digitisation functionality should be key to any future buying decisions.

Canon’s portfolio has been specifically designed with effective hybrid working in mind. Our smart multifunctional devices (MFDs)are built with the latest document capture and processing technology, and inbuilt advanced cloud connectivity to common cloud storage and workflow application.

Our MFDs – such as our newly launched imageRUNNER ADVANCE DX C5800 Series – don’t just offer state of the art printing capabilities, but intelligent scan technology to support digital transformation. Workers can easily transform print documents into digital information which can be fed directly in applications such as OneDrive or Dropbox or plugged into company workflows such as SAP’s Concur. This enhanced connectivity makes sure that information is made available to colleagues regardless of their location, supporting more effective working from anywhere.

As an IT manager, 2020 probably had a major impact on your IT strategy and investment priorities. While the immediate priority will be ‘making it work’ in the short term, companies should be practically thinking about long term hybrid working. How will workflows function effectively across multiple locations? Which elements of these processes can be readily digitised? And where is print still crucial? To support seamless working, even when transitioning between print and digital, IT managers should be looking to invest in next generation MFDs which offer not just everyday print capabilities, but the connectivity, digitisation and workflow enablement features that today’s MFDs can offer.

Discover how our latest MFDs are answering your digital transformation prayers

  3. Quocirca, Print 2025
  4. Quocirca, Print 2025
  5. IDC’s European Hardcopy survey, April 2020

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