Just one in four IT decision-makers (ITDMs) feels very confident in the lead-up to an audit – with respondents to new research from Canon Europe highlighting concerns over their organisations’ information and data management processes.

The results of the survey of 1 709 ITDMs across seven markets (UK, France, Germany, Italy, the Nordics, The Netherlands, and Spain) signals critical gaps within the digital makeup of many businesses today – highlighting the lack of visibility and control that ITDMs have over information and document processes which is pivotal to their role.

Yenayena Ngidi, workspace product manager at Canon, says: “Emerging technologies are currently reshaping what’s achievable in the hybrid workplace where information is exchanged in both digital and paper formats, accompanied by new expectations to manage. Information assumes a critical role in this context, as it can determine how well businesses can adapt and respond to these new opportunities.

“Yet our research shows how anxieties related to managing and protecting data as well as a lack of productivity in document process management, hinder IT teams from harnessing the full potential of their information to increase overall business value.”

Anxiety related to managing data is clearly apparent in IT leaders’ confidence levels ahead of an audit. When asked why, two consistent themes emerged: a lack of control over employee behaviour and a lack of visibility of documents and data, both playing a key role.

These concerns are not misplaced. Over one-third (36%) of leaders say they suspect or are aware that employees don’t always follow compliance rules (such as GDPR), whilst, one in five ITDMs (17%) reported experiencing an accidental employee breach in the last year. This is creating a strain internally, with over half reporting IT security is taking up a significant amount of their workday.

In fact, mitigating risk – particularly concerning IT security and compliance – continues to be front of mind for IT leaders. 60% of ITDMs place security in their top three greatest challenges, with over a quarter (28%) placing it as number one.

ITDMs appear confident in their digital maturity, with 78% believing their organisations are already mature in terms of digital processes – meaning that they are running processes that are digitised and automated, however the wider research paints a different picture.

* Organisations were found to be in a similar position to 2022 levels of tracking, accessing, sharing, and deleting documents for audit purposes.

* Automatic access rights to documents – the most common capability – are only found in 53% of organisations, meaning that full adoption of automation for information and document process management is still far off.

* 28% are still needing to manually fill out standardised organisational documents each time, with 26% of employees experiencing errors or inconsistencies caused by data silos.

* One in 10 leaders have abandoned implementation projects over the last two years. Challenges with implementations include compatibility issues (28%), delays (27%), and ongoing faults with the new technology (21%).

While the benefits that digital can bring to a business are clear – nearly all those who have implemented automation (99%) report value far beyond compliance from working more efficiently (37%), improving employee experience (35%), and bolstering customer experience (34%) – these potential gains are not being fully realised.

Even though information management is recognised for increasing productivity, with 37% of IT leaders highlighting this as a key benefit- many ITDMs aren’t fully embracing available document management solutions. This lack of digital progress is hampering the potential of IT teams and creating a roadblock to how much value they can provide.

Frederik Moller, business development manager at Canon, says: “A digital-first world requires modern workplaces to be driven by high-quality and highly accessible information or unstructured data. However, managing an increasing volume of unstructured information in a hybrid environment is challenging for organisations.

“Effective information management is the answer; delivering enhanced visibility and control, greater compliance, as well as unlocking new opportunities from existing information.”

Ngidi adds: “Organisations are increasingly looking towards IT teams to help them deliver business value through the power of technology. Whether your organisation is a bank, retailer, startup, or enterprise, the way that it captures, processes, and delivers information is critical to its overall success.”