The Covid-19 pandemic is fast-tracking digital transformation in companies, requiring us to digitally transform our places of work to be able to operate effectively.

Those companies able to use digital technology will be the ones ahead of the competition once the crisis is overcome or, in the worst-case scenario, will at least survive.

This sudden acceleration of remote working implementation means that organisations have had to put their foot down overnight, with a series of risks that have multiplied exponentially, and will test all the business decisions on digitalisation that have been taken, or postponed, in recent years.

“Even companies that were resistant to the concept of a distributed workforce have been forced to allow employees to work from home, but many lack the technology infrastructure to offer that capability without making some sacrifices to ‘business as usual’,” says Marcell Otto, software product specialist at Kyocera Document Solutions South Africa.

However, one unexpected outcome of Covid-19 is that companies realise there are benefits to fast-tracking digital transformation.

Otto says that, while technology is fundamental to business continuity, in this unprecedented situation, the shift to remote working can pose challenges. This is especially true in workplaces that were less accustomed to it.

“A few years ago, we successfully implemented an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system, ourselves, which was done to achieve much-needed business process optimisation and automation across Kyocera Document Solutions South Africa, and we encourage companies to talk to and to partner with us in their digital transformation.

“Why? Because when the lockdown came, there was absolutely no transition for us. We continued working as per usual, except we weren’t at the office.”

With ECM, companies gain a holistic approach to information management that realises sharing, utilisation, and management of all information across departments within an organisation. It offers strategies, methods, technologies, and tools for centrally storing, managing, and sharing all content, including paper documents, digital documents, images, audio files, and more, in an organisation.

With ECM in place, both unstructured information (such as paper documents) and structured information (for example, data in the core system such as ERP), are efficiently integrated and managed in the organisation.

Otto says Kyocera Document Solutions South Africa employees have found that they are able to do just as much work, if not more, working from home with the proper setup, equipment, secure access to a virtual network, and access to the systems and processes they need to do their jobs.

The immediate benefits include reduced costs, improved work efficiency, and enhanced security.

Some additional benefits include:

* Optimised processes that were previously paper driven;

Effective searching and finding of documents;

Sharing documents between people without creating duplicates or wasting time merging different versions and version control;

Security and access control for intrusion prevention and ensuring sensitive information remains private;

* Digitisation of physical documents, thereby reducing physical, and largely insecure storage space;

Increasing inter-departmental and inter-organisational communication and collaboration; and

* Secure mobile access to documentation.

“By creating a culture of process improvement in our business, we have saved time and reduced costs,” Otto says. “For me, digital transformation succeeds best via incremental small changes and constant improvements to processes within the business.

“Our own ECM system also assists us, and our customers, by ticking the security box, as most organisations struggle with how to control unstructured data across their business.”

Otto acknowledges that, with organisations having to morph in response to the pandemic, many CIOs are finding themselves in uncharted territory. That’s true across industries, from enterprise software to financial services, to education, to the public sector and just about everywhere.

“Companies in every sector are seeing the benefits of ECM,” he says. Thanks to digitalisation, the obstacles created by paper, such as labour-intensive duplication procedures, slow distribution, misplaced originals, and the inconvenience of retrieving files from off-site storage are eliminated.

Crucially, because of where we find ourselves now, ECM is more important than ever; it optimises legacy processes, automates workflows, and ensures productivity, making the sudden shift to remote work a seamless experience.