Digitising hard copies could save businesses up to 20 percent of turnover

Businesses should be looking to digitise their historical data, which is more often than not still being stored on hard copy documents, in a bid to save up to 20 percent of their annual turnover.

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Businesses should be looking to digitise their historical data, which is more often than not still being stored on hard copy documents, in a bid to save up to 20 percent of their annual turnover.

The latest research commissioned by Ricoh Europe found that 89 percent of business leaders agree that digitising and unlocking data from physical documents, which Ricoh is labelling “bigger data”, would improve decision making.

The study was conducted earlier this year by Coleman Parkes Research and surveyed 735 senior business and IT decision makers in the UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium, the Nordics, Switzerland and Russia.

It found that 61 percent of UK business leaders believe that digitising hard copy documents could save them between five and 20 percent of their annual turnover – where 35 percent believe a five to 10 percent return is achievable, and 26 percent an 11 to 20 percent saving.

“Leaders are aware that the business opportunities of big data go beyond the digital and must address the physical documents that also hold critical business insights,” said Phil Keoghan, chief executive officer, Ricoh UK.

“With leaders under pressure to make the right decisions to steer their businesses out of the downturn, we found overwhelming agreement that digitising and unlocking data from physical documents would improve business decision-making.”

He added: “Indeed, business leaders still foresee volumes of hard copy information growing in the workplace. It is clear that we are now in the era of bigger data and our ability to easily access information, whether digital or physical, is essential as organisations accelerate their digital transformation and drive business growth.”

Ricoh found that almost half of organisations will have between five and 10 years’ worth of information stored only in hard copy. Some 62 percent of business leaders agree that it takes too long to find the information they need from hard copy files.

However, this is set to change as the digitisation of hard copy documents is becoming a priority for organisations. The research found that five out of 10 respondents expect to have completely digitised their assets within the next three years.

“The first step to managing bigger data is to eliminate the mystery surrounding it. There is one real outcome that matters. That's collecting, analysing and acting on the high-quality information available, and using it to provide a better service to clients, winning their loyalty and continued custom,” said David Mills, chief operating officer at Ricoh Europe.

“Valuable business insight existed long before the big data boom, so it is essential to continue to look beyond digital information. Significant trends and insights from historical data, for example archived in hard copy, can help to tell the full story and are essential for businesses in the future.”

He added: “The economic crisis has underlined the importance to the organisation of gaining a 360-degree view into the environment around them, both in the past and present. It’s therefore vital that businesses harvest all of their critical information to gain competitive edge, and enhance business decision making in the future.”