Business Management

David Mills (Europe) - What Will Businesses Look Like in 2020?

Is the role of technology enabled innovation slowing down? Or could business executives be forgiven for thinking the recent number of technological shifts, such as the growth in wireless communications and enterprise applications, means we can now expect a lull? Results of recent research indicate quite the opposite is true.

According to ‘Frontiers of Disruption: The Next Decade of Technology in the Business’, a study of 567 executives across 20 sectors globally, sponsored by Ricoh Europe and conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit, 70% disagree that when it comes to improving operating efficiency, enterprise technology has reached a plateau. And nearly six in ten think that advances in information and communications technologies will be so profound that they believe the vertical market in which their organization operates will bear little resemblance in 2020 to how it looks today.

So just how will technology impact everyday operations? The data revolution, where technology has enabled employees to have access to increasing amounts of data and information more easily than ever before, is leading to a significant shift. Because of this, 63% of those survey respondents predict a shift to decentralization in 2020, with flatter organizational structures and a spread of decision-making authority to the periphery of the organization and individual employees.

With technologies that help to more effectively manage information, decentralized employees are empowered to make decisions. But for this new, decentralized workforce to succeed it is imperative that businesses adapt their processes to the digital world. With the rise in mobile working, it will be commonplace for employees to access critical information and collaborate whilst working from wherever they please – inside or outside of the office. As such, businesses will need to be more process orientated, ensuring critical information is centralized and data can be received, stored and retrieved by employees from any location – all the while remaining secure.

Adopting business processes of this kind will mean decision making can be less hierarchical and employees, who are collaborating directly with customers, can make important business decisions, without delay. This ability to respond quickly will become even more essential, with business leaders saying they think customers will be the main source of new product and service ideas in 2020, with 86% agreeing that customers will become an integral part of the decision-making process. As well as customers, there will be an increased demand for experts from outside the organization to be able to easily input and retrieve information, with project teams of the future more likely to typically include members from outside an organization such as partners and suppliers.

By choosing the right partner to help them optimize business critical processes, organizations can ensure that information is controlled, secure and easily used by everyone who needs access. A managed approach will mean less duplication, greater consistency, and will importantly provide an accurate insight into access of information and the related costs that are being incurred across the business.

Centralized process management is even more important when you consider the combination of digital and hard copy documents within a business. 43% of all business-critical document processes in European organizations are currently hard copy and only 22% of organizations currently have a fully automated workflow. 
There’s no doubt that at the heart of a successful decentralization strategy will lie a network of integrated document processes to support the business decisions that will enable companies to grow in the future.

By David Mills, Executive Vice President, Operations, Ricoh Europe


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