There's a reason companies will wait as long as they can before replacing on-site technology. If your business still has a fax machine perched somewhere in the office, you probably understand why. This equipment costs considerable money, or at least it did back when it was first purchased. As such, managers want to squeeze every last drop of use they can out of these machines before they're "shipped upstate" to the recycling plant.
However, as business operations become increasingly connected via the Internet and intraoffice platforms, hardware is slowly quickly losing ground to digitization. Why is this trend taking the world by storm, and what operations should companies consider pushing into the virtual world?
"Companies find that digitization is an inexpensive and effective means of updating."
What digitization can do for you
Happily, unlike upgrades of the past, companies find that digitization is an inexpensive and effective means of updating. And not by a slim margin either.
According to a McKinsey and Company report from 2014, switching any data-focused operations from manual to a digital or automated process can save as much as 90 percent on operating costs. As an example, the study offered up an unnamed banking company and its loan application process. By digitizing, this business reportedly saved 70 percent on its costs per application, while also reducing turnaround time on each submission from "several days" to a single minute.
While managers and owners might initially balk at the overhead necessary for a digital overhaul, the results should coax them into the fold. Transforming operations can accelerate the pace at which a business can perform, simultaneously cutting costs per transactions.
Where should businesses digitize?
With a properly trained and equipped IT staff, where companies decide to implement digitized processes is really up to them. Although digitization might appear complex to the layman, its general goal should be seen as a simplification of a particular division. What parts of your business need to be a little less complicated? Which places aren't performing as admirably as you wish they would? For businesses just starting off down the road to digitization, measures shouldn't be undertaken willy-nilly, but to address shortcomings in manual operations.
That doesn't mean certain industries aren't prone to certain blind spots. For instance, at international tech expo CeBIT 2014, Sameer Patel addressed a current gap in data that could be better monitored through digitization.
"Our real brains are on the factory floor and in the customer service center," said Patel, general manager and senior vice president of SAP's Enterprise Social and Collaborative Software, according to ZDNet. "Yet 43 percent of companies still don't have complete information on suppliers."
Patel's point raises another: Though digitization can help round out certain extant operations, it can just as easily develop new ways of handling data that have never been thought of before. Businesses willing to use digitization as a cure for ailing divisions should also contemplate ways they can break boundaries and blaze new frontiers for their respective industries.
IT and tech industry piece brought to you by Marlin Equipment Finance, a nationwide provider of commercial lending solutions for small and mid-size businesses. Marlin's equipment financing and loan products are offered directly to businesses, and through third party vendor programs, which include manufacturers, distributors, independent dealers and brokers in the security, food services, healthcare, information technology, office technology and telecommunications sectors.