go beyond smart mfds to connect the dots between present needs and your digital future

By Gabriela Garner, Product Marketing Director at Kofax

London 26th April, 2022: There’s no doubt about it—the hybrid workplace is here to stay. The majority of companies will adopt a hybrid work model, employing a mix of in-person and remote employees, according to the Forrester 2021 Predictions: Accelerating Out of the Crisis report.

But what’s remote work? During the pandemic, remote work became synonymous with people working from home, sporting “business on top and PJs on the bottom.” While this image can give us a good a laugh, it doesn’t fully encompass all that remote work truly is for the modern-day organization. Long before COVID-19, remote work of a different sort was in full swing as colleagues collaborated with other departments within the same building and different offices around the world. When we look at this expanded definition, most of us have probably been engaging in remote work for a long time.

Organizations have been able to support employees as they work with colleagues in different teams, buildings, cities and countries thanks to the vast improvements in access to digital information. The post-pandemic version of remote work, however, ushered in a sudden shift in the workplace dynamic. Many companies quickly realized they weren’t far enough along in their digital transformation efforts to support the rapid rise of this new type of remote work and the data it generates.

Instead, they found themselves caught between a rock and a hard place, trying to find a way to keep the wheels of “business as usual” turning while steadily rising to the level of digital aptitude required to help employees thrive in the new hybrid and remote work models. This may seem like an impossible battle to win, but there are innovative and effective technologies that can help organizations work toward the future without compromising the present. In fact, the right solution can even accelerate the speed with which today’s workflows are executed while simultaneously boosting strategic progress toward a more automated, digital tomorrow.

If you’re wondering how to get started and connect the dots between today and tomorrow, look no further than your multi-function devices (MFDs). MFDs have been a mainstay in most organizations for quite some time, but when the right automation technology is applied to them, they’re transformed into versatile powerhouses. Intelligent automation unlocks the full potential of MFDs, making them smart devices that can accelerate your digital strategy and serve as the connective tissue between your current state of digital transformation and where it needs to go.

The Journey: Today versus Tomorrow

Just about every organization—regardless of where they are in their digital transformation—is leveraging automation as part of the effort to achieve their vision for the future. But there’s much work to be done. Almost half (48 percent) of decision makers surveyed said their organizations have manual or only partially automated processes, according to The Kofax 2021 Intelligent Automation Benchmark Study Part 1: Successful Automation Requires an Integrated Vendor Strategy. Another piece of the study discovered that while the number of use cases for which organizations are utilizing automation is increasing, adoption rates for more mature use cases such as back-office tasks, decisioning and accounts payable are still fairly low. In other words, there’s a lot of room for improvement.

When asked what they consider to be the most critical use cases for automation, decision makers listed robotic process automation (RPA) (61 percent), artificial intelligence/machine learning (43 percent) and digital process automation (40 percent) as the top three responses. It’s interesting that all three require document intelligence in order to succeed. Organizations must be able to ingest, classify and extract unstructured data from all documents, regardless of format, so the data can be processed and analyzed for actionable insight. The only way to accomplish this is with document intelligence. A combination of intelligent automation technologies such as intelligent capture with advanced content-aware capabilities empowers organizations to classify documents, extract all relevant data and make well-informed decisions with the information as well as automatically initiate document-based workflows.

Where’s your business today when it comes to documents? Perhaps your company is moving away from printing completely. If so, you’re not alone. Digital scanning and capture are faster, more accurate, more easily accessible and more efficient. Just think about how much time is saved by searching for a digital document as opposed to flipping through stacks of paper or filing cabinets.

At the same time, there are several reasons why printing isn’t going away. Disparate systems within the company may not connect with each other, and in the new hybrid world, employees may not have access to paper documents when they need them. For these organizations, printing remains a critical element of the business infrastructure. But as the volume of data collected grows at exponential rates, the need to digitize becomes stronger by the minute.

The challenge, then, is how to progress toward digitization without interrupting the day-to-day operations. Is it even possible?

Bridge Today AND Tomorrow with Smart MFDs and Intelligent Automation

You may not think of your MFDs as a stepping stone to digital workflow transformation, but by applying intelligent automation capabilities to MFDs they become an on-ramp to transformation and a bridge that connects organizations to their digital futures. What’s even better is that smart MFDs also improve speed, efficiency and productivity now, enabling you to do a better job today while accelerating the journey to your future vision.

You may be asking, “Why intelligent automation?” Anything less, such as a piecemeal approach to automation, has several drawbacks. According to decision makers, a siloed approach results in high technical debt (46 percent), delays in successful outcomes (35 percent) and problems of scale (34 percent), as discovered in part two of the benchmark study, Automation at Scale: Bridging the Gap Between IT and the Business. Intelligent automation provides a comprehensive set of capabilities so organizations can achieve end-to-end automation with a flexible and scalable platform.

MFD fleets powered by intelligent automation software allow companies to meet (and even exceed) the needs of today, while speeding up the path to tomorrow by empowering companies to:

  1. Achieve continual improvement on short-term business objectives while sustainably executing on the broader transformation vision. MFDs can intelligently capture information from digital and physical documents, process the information and transmit it wherever it needs to go across the enterprise.
  2. Digitally connect disparate systems within an organization’s ecosystem and eliminate manual, error-prone, paper-based processes. Intelligent automation eliminates the need for separate systems to print, sign, scan and fax. Integration with enterprise applications, legacy systems, transforms enterprise document management workflows.
  3. Control the rate of progress based on the changing needs of the business. Keep printing where it’s still essential—manage everything securely and ensure compliance with redaction, watermarking and audit trail reporting capabilities. Meanwhile, other areas can shift to data capture and all-digital workflows. A flexible platform gives organizations a choice and supports growth, meeting your immediate and long-term needs.
  4. Improve productivity of the distributed workforce and delight remote employees in any capacity with access to critical business information from any location without connectivity disruptions. A consistent user experience for print, capture and mobile across all devices is convenient and simple, keeping your remote and hybrid workers agile and connected.
  5. Accelerate the business results of today while maximizing your strategic goals for business transformation tomorrow. Advanced capture and print workflows drive efficiency and productivity of the daily grind. Employees have easy access to more accurate information from any location and device, so they can get work done faster while the business simultaneously moves toward the digitization needed for future success. Predictive analytics allow users to harness the power of data, so you can make informed business decisions on the digital transformation journey.

No matter where you rank on the digital aptitude scale, one thing is clear—smart MFDs backed by intelligent automation help organizations build a foundation today for a complete digital transformation tomorrow. Connect the dots between the present and the future, faster than ever, and start working like tomorrow, today.

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