Since 1973, I’ve had the privilege of helping a variety of businesses utilize technology to become more efficient and effective.
During this time there have been four technologies that have truly changed the way businesses operate.
The first was local area network (LAN). This allowed users to connect PCs and share files, resulting in a huge boost in productivity. The PC suddenly became an essential business tool across all industries.
The second technology was email. This essential communication tool helped organizations communicate with their clients, suppliers and internal staff much more efficiently than before.
The third technology, the internet, opened up a world of possibilities. Essential business processes like marketing, research, customer support, hiring, training, and sales could all be done using the internet.
Now, of course, these technologies are integral to the way we do business. But when I initially introduced each one, many of my customers thought they would never need them.
They were fancy and new, an extra expense that some thought they would never use. But, when people finally took the leap and implemented them, their businesses were changed forever.
Eventually these technologies became widely accepted, and they changed the way we do business. Now, most organizations rely on these technologies on a daily basis and are greatly impacted if they’re unavailable for even a short time.
I believe that we are, once again, on the cusp of a sweeping technological change. The fourth technology that I believe is going to change the business landscape is called Electronic Content Management (ECM).
You’ve probably heard about this technology. Maybe you’ve even said that you would never use or need it. But I believe that this technology is even more exciting than the first three. I believe it has the potential to make your organization more efficient and effective than the first three technologies combined.
If your company is anything like ours, you are experiencing a much more competitive market than ever before.
This pressure could be coming from any number of sources: large corporations that invest millions in marketing, small businesses that are utilizing technology well, small independent contractors who work from home to keep overhead low or foreign companies that have extremely inexpensive labor.
If that’s not bad enough, you’re facing a weak economy, smaller budgets, reduced staffing, increased individual workloads, stricter compliance requirements, and impossible customer expectations. It’s a lot to handle.
Are You Using Old Technology or New Technology?
- Typing letters only on an IBM typewriter.
- Using a paper-based ledger system to do all of your accounting.
- Using only a pink message pad to take telephone messages.
- Using the postal service to send quick follow-up notes to customers.
- Keeping customer and prospect lists only on index cards.
- Having only a pager to field calls from the office.
- Being able to contact your office only via pay phone.
- Designing your products using only pencil and paper on a drafting table.
- Having marketing literature that is only available as a packet sent in the mail.
- Needing several days to track down information for a customer before calling them back.
Let’s face it: you wouldn’t be in business today if you were using processes and technologies that were ten to twenty years old.
Here’s the truth: You’re currently using outdated technology in at least one area of your business.
Here’s a hint: It’s usually metal, and it has drawers.
The effectiveness of a system like this is proven by the latest Gartner report on the subject:
A funny thing happened in the depths of the recent recession. While budgets in many areas of information technology were under extreme pressure, enterprise content management (ECM) spending actually grew, by 5.1% in 2009 and by 7.6% in 2010…
Why is all this money being spent on ECM in a down economy? The answer is “productivity.”
ECM can drive process efficiency, improve data and process quality, and build better channels to your customers and prospects.
A Paper Book about Going Paperless
I want to be clear; this book is not about no paper it is about less paper.
Paper documents are, admittedly, still important to business. We are familiar with paper documents. We’re comfortable with them. To eliminate paper documents and do everything electronically would force us to give up what we know. We’d have to change. And for most of us, change is not easy.
If we try to make drastic changes all at once, people will resist and return to what they know.
If you had to guess the hardest thing for records managers to do when implementing an electronic document management system, what would you say?
Perhaps you’d think it’s getting used to the technology, justifying the cost of the system, changing people’s habits, or knowing how to best implement the system.
While these things can sometimes be difficult, I’ve found that the hardest thing for customers is actually getting rid of the paper once the information is in the system.
It’s natural to stick with what we know, so it’s important to ease into it. When I help a company move to electronic document management, I take it slowly. First, I make sure customers are comfortable with the back-up and disaster recovery plan we’ve created. Then, I get rid of the first box of paper files for them. It works wonders!
Remember, paper is tangible. You can see it and touch it. It’s important to assure that people know their documents are safe and that it’s okay to dispose of them.
So when I talk about paperless, I mean less paper. Not no paper!
In this book I want to take you on a journey toward less paper, less clutter, and less expense. Let’s begin!