Kathy Gibson reports from Gartner Symposium in Cape Town – There is a lot of innovation going on in South Africa, driven by limitations to a degree but also by innovative people.

Tis is according to Robert Janssen, head of the direct sales channel at Ricoh, there are many South African companies bringing innovation to the next level.

When innovating, Janssen believes that smaller is often better. “I think many small teams are better than one big fish. But from a mindset point of view taking a project step by step is more effective than one big approach.”

Planning is also important, he adds, as is honesty and communication. This will help to manage expectations from suppliers, customers and end users.

“And don’t forget we are still people,” Janssen says. “If people don’t work with what we implement it will not be a success.

“People are the tools of your organisation and any system needs to be accepted. We need to trigger the follow-up.”

Total is one of the largest oil and gas companies in the world, with more than 97 000 employees in 130 countries.

Ricoh has traditionally worked with Total in the printing environment, but branched out for this project.

Total SA is 49% locally-owned and a key player in the local industry.

“We started the discussion with Total about what we could do for them, and part of this discussion was about wanting to reduce its carbon footprint. It also wanted a transition to a completely paperless office environment; and centralised records management.”

Ricoh did a full requirement analysis and found there were more elements that have to be considered. The requirements boiled down to greener energy; more accessible, responsible energy; customer satisfaction; they wanted a four-star green building; streamline processes into digital processing; transition to a completely paperless office environment; and centralised records management.

There was no space for physical records at the new building, so Ricoh needed to need to digitise 5-million images that had to be manually captured. It turned out that when documents were required, there was a tedious retrieval process, largely because most of the business processes were manual.

The elements of phase one were a focus on scanning the 5-million documents, moving premises and implementing change management and user acceptance testing.

From a software point of view, Ricoh implemented an enterprise content management (ECM) point of view. This would give Total expanded functionality as their need it as well as being key for legislations.

At the beginning, Total asked that the project be completed in six months – already a big ask – but then it changed this to six weeks. And it had to be done onsite.

“So we had 17 staff members in double shifts using five high-speed canners.

“But we managed to do it in six weeks,” Janssen says. “For us six weeks was the biggest challenge of our lives. But we accepted it and executed on it.”

For Ricoh this is a strategic project, but the customer had a return of investment in just 11 months

Benefits include a reduction in print volumes, the optimisation of business processes and the digitisation of hard copy files results in massive storage reductions.

In Phase 2, Ricoh is building on the digital platform to highlight organisational elements that can be optimised.

“Innovation, for me, only stops when you stop doing things,” Janssen says.