Information is everywhere in the new world of work. But do you have the tools to access it?

In many ways, the future of work is already here. From big data to new technologies and different ways of working, the very concept of work today is being redefined. This the new world of work, where information is at the heart of every successful business decision, and the ability to use that information to inform better business outcomes, is what separates good companies from great ones.

Recently, we wrote about the release of new research from IDC, commissioned by Ricoh Americas Corporation. The main takeaway from this research is that a massive 83 percent of companies are missing out on the benefits of information mobility.

In our earlier article, we briefly touched upon how the remaining 17 percent of companies — those that IDC calls information mobility “champions” — separate themselves from the rest of the pack. But in this article, we’ll discuss the other 83 percent, and the root cause of what’s holding them back in the new world of work: information gridlock. Here are 6 reasons why your information is gridlocked — and what you can do about it.

1. Collaboration is held back by inadequate or missing tools

There’s a possibility you may never have heard the term “information mobility” before. But even if you haven’t read up on it, chances are that you already intuitively understand the idea. Ricoh calls it: The ability to seamlessly move information between paper, digital and legacy formats (e.g., mainframe, microfilm) and from any IT platform to another, and the ability to find and integrate information within and across repositories whether on-premise or cloud, and as a result, drive better business outcomes.

Or, to put it another way, making your information work for you. And nowhere is this more important than in collaborative tools.

Consider that nearly half of today’s workers say they work remotely for more than half the workweek (46 percent). That’s huge. And the value of collaborative tools seems obvious. But just 1 in 4 organizations provide collaboration tools to their employees, and only a few percent more provide Web conferencing. Considering that half of workers are making remote work a big part of their lives, that’s a big problem.

And this trend is only increasing. As the workforce becomes more mobile, the impact of poor collaboration tools will have an even greater effect on businesses.

2. You don’t support mobile

In this survey of business leaders from hundreds of medium- to large-sized U.S. companies, it quickly became clear that, even if the term wasn’t familiar, the benefits provided by information mobility were easy to see. More than 75 percent of respondents said that information mobility has a positive impact on revenue, and between 60 and 70 percent said that this positive effect extends to workflows, acquiring new customers, costs, profitability and customer retention.

Information Mobility Has Far-Reaching Impacts

Information Mobility Has a Positive Impact On:

  • Revenue 76.7% 76.7%
  • Business process workflow 71.6% 71.6%
  • New customer acquisition 69.5% 69.5%
  • Customer retention 68.2% 68.2%
  • Profitablity 68.2% 68.2%
  • Operational costs 61.6% 61.6%
  • Time to market for new products and services 58.6% 58.6%

% of Respondants
*Source: IDC, Information Mobility Study, comissioned by RICOH 2015

However, it all falls apart without strong support for mobile devices. While just about everyone has some form of mobile device, many workers aren’t able to make that device work for them. But there’s a disconnect here. For example, more than 80 percent of the business leaders that IDC interviewed agree that it’s important for workers to have the ability to enable document capture via mobile devices. The problem is that just 19 percent of companies have fully implemented this tool.

Unfortunately, this gap is persistent across the entire mobility spectrum. Just 29 percent of employees surveyed say they’re able to access most or all core enterprise applications from their mobile devices, and less than a quarter say they can print or scan from these apps. Even worse, there’s a big gap within these numbers between IT and the different Lines of Business (LoB).

Cloud and Mobile Platform Support: Disconnect Between IT and Lines of Business

Percentage of Employees That Can:

  • Access most/all core apps via mobile devices — IT 36% 36%
  • Line of Business 20% 20%
  • Print as easily from cloud apps as from on-premise apps — IT 33% 33%
  • Line of Business 19% 19%
  • Print from most/all core apps as via mobile devices — IT 30% 30%
  • Line of Business 17% 17%
  • Scan to most all cloud-based apps as to on-premise apps — IT 29% 29%
  • Line of Business 18% 18%

*Source: IDC, Information Mobility Study, comissioned by RICOH 2015

3. Your information is silo’d

One of those corporate buzzwords that often get thrown around, silos are actually a very real thing, with real consequences for the business. Without being able to share and make use of information across an organization, problems immediately arise. The most obvious example is customer facing: let’s say that a customer speaks with someone in sales and provides them with information. If they call back later and find that they have to provide all of that same information again to a customer service agent, and then again and again each time they call, that customer will not likely be a customer much longer.

IDC found that half of all employees need to pull information from six or more individual databases or repositories just to get the job done, but just 18 percent have the right tools to do so. The reason is that the explosion of information and data in the workplace has resulted in the fragmentation of information repositories. Workers are often forced to search through multiple databases and sources, both electronic and not, in order to find the information they seek. No wonder enterprise search is something that businesses are increasingly finding that they can’t live without — improving search functionality throughout the enterprise can help those businesses see a productivity increase of nearly 10 percent.

4. Your time is spent doing busy work

Oh, busy work. Hours of your business day — and life — wasted away. Even if some of the criticism is a bit over the top (really, how many times have you heard someone actually say “Please fill out this form in triplicate?”), having unnecessary busy work can be a serious blow to your office’s productivity. Because we all understand exactly what busy work means: Annoyance. Irritation. Anger. Because busy work is time wasted just to complete a seemingly easy task.

We may not fill out forms in triplicate very much anymore. But busy work is still a staple of the modern office, and the IDC data backs this up. Nearly 60 percent of all the business surveyed say that most of their core business process workflows are still manual, and less than a quarter have effectively integrated these processes across departments.

Business Process Workflows Integration Across Departments

  • Effectively done to a major extent 24% 24%
  • Effectively done to a moderate extent 50% 50%
  • Effectively done to a minor extent 23% 23%
  • Not done effectively at all 3% 3%

*Source: IDC, Information Mobility Study, comissioned by RICOH 2015

Without significant automation of these core business processes, workers’ time will continue to be needlessly spent doing busy work that could easily be automated — saving money and allowing the employees the time to focus their efforts to grow the business.

5. You have endless rows of file cabinets storing your critical information

Admit it — are you one of the people who prints emails? It’s okay to acknowledge it. Maybe you even printed out this article. But you aren’t the major problem with paper in the workplace. The problems arise when paper becomes part of critical business workflows. Think records storage — doctors’ offices, legal, higher ed. Many still run on paper, and in fact, 58 percent of all businesses rely on paper to handle critical business processes. And that’s a real problem for a few reasons:

  • Waste: Paper is costly and damaging to the environment
  • Speed: Paper documents take time to store, access and transfer
  • Search: There’s a reason the Dewey Decimal System was created. Unfortunately, you probably don’t have one of those for your critical business information.

There’s still a spot for paper in the office. But not as part of critical business workflows. For more on this, read our most recent article on how file cabinets are putting your business at risk.

6. You have an information gatekeeper

Who holds the knowledge in your company? And not just the knowledge about the company, but the knowledge unique to departments, positions, vendors, or just about any situation? Chances are, you have a go-to person for each of these — Phil in accounting is the person to talk to about your HR management software, or Becky in sales can tell you the ins and outs of your vendor relationship with Brand X.

But what happens when Phil decides he needs more stock options and jumps ship? Or if Becky leaves to launch her own startup? What then? IDC says that nearly 40 percent of this information — institutional knowledge — is either in a filing cabinet somewhere, or locked away in somebody’s head. When somebody leaves or retires, that information is going with them. And considering that they probably keep getting asked the same questions day after day, that day they leave or retire may be sooner than you think.

How to break the gridlock

While the benefits of information mobility are obvious, just a third of respondents to the study said that senior management at their organizations are strongly supportive of providing mobile access to core enterprise applications. And these numbers are similar across the board in management’s support for new collaboration tools, managing workflows and the flow of information throughout the organization, enabling enterprise search and more — management support is only between 35 and 40 percent for all of these.

And it is here that we see the greatest area of separation between information mobility “Champions” and the rest of the pack.

Champions Have Higher Senior Management Support for Information Mobility Enablers

Greatest Level of Senior Management Support For…

  • Providing the platform and training to maximize employee ability to collaborate — Champions 92% 92%
  • Overall 40% 40%
  • Automating and optimizing core front and back office process document workflows — Champions 92% 92%
  • Overall 38% 38%
  • Enabling smartphone and tablet printing and scanning with core enterprise applications — Champions 92% 92%
  • Overall 36% 36%
  • Enabling smartphone and tablet accessories/use of core enterprise applications/information respositories — Champions 92% 92%
  • Overall 35% 35%
  • Enabling printing and scanning with cloud-based core enterprise applications — Champions 86% 86%
  • Overall 37% 37%
  • Finding and integrating information from different repository platforms for insights, answers, or predicting business outcomes — Champions 61% 61%
  • Overall 36% 36%

*Source: IDC, Information Mobility Study, comissioned by RICOH 2015

This is a massive disconnect, speaking to the need to get senior management on board early. And breaking this gridlock will take some doing.

But it’s not impossible.

If you feel as though your company is part of this 83 percent of all companies that are lagging behind, contact the professionals at Centriworks. Your company will gain the insights you need to better manage information, implement the most advanced technologies, and understand your changing workforce to become an information mobility Champion.

Joyce Ouellette / Director of Brand Strategy and Digital Marketing at Ricoh Americas

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Contact us today to see how Centriworks can improve the way you do business. Call Todd Sheppard at (865) 524-1124 or contact us online.

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