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By Spencer Wyer, Group Chief Technology Officer at EDM Group
Digital transformation remains a key buzz word across the UK business landscape, with the majority of companies looking at how new technologies can transform business models and drive growth. One of the areas in which digital technologies are playing a profound role is how firm’s manage and analyse the vast amounts of information and data they generate, and the solutions and platforms they use to do this.
It is clear that data has become the fuel of today’s digital economy, with customer behaviour dictating the way many of us want to communicate with friends, with businesses and most other stakeholders. The substantial rise in the use of mobile devices, the development of apps and similar tools, and exponential growth in e-commerce traffic show just how powerful these trends have become.
Increasingly, therefore, moving away from the paper-based information is seen as a fundamental part of the digital transformation agenda – though there is still a long way to go before the UK business world is completely paper-free.
Despite the rise of digital technologies transforming business processes, significant numbers of UK companies are still managing large volumes of post, for instance. Recent research commissioned by EDM Group found that around a quarter (23%) of UK businesses handle more than 5,000 items of inbound mail every month (60% still receive faxes into their mailrooms).
The same proportion (23%) said they receive between 2,000 and 5,000 items per month while around a third (35%) said they get less than 2,000 items a month.
Significant cost savings
Many organisations are unaware of the enormous cost savings and business process improvements that can be achieved by digitising their inbound mail operations, eliminating paper and incorporating it into a single, smart platform that can automate routing and business efficiency.
‘Digital mailrooms’ allow businesses to digitise post on entry and, as such, can radically improve data and information management and processes at source. They are highly efficient, cost effective ways for businesses to digitise their customer communications – dramatically improving data capture and information management as well as enhancing customer service and compliance.
However, the survey by EDM Group revealed a relatively low take-up rate for mailrooms: just one in five companies (19%) in the UK said they operate fully automated digital mailrooms, with just 3% of companies using them across all locations and the remainder (16%) using them in some locations only.
This failure to adopt modern practices and rely on paper can have significant consequences: around a third (30%) of businesses said that mishandling mail has a negative effect on their performance or reputation while two-fifths (39%) stated that it has a negative impact on customer service levels.
Absorbed into digitised processes
EDM believes that automated mailrooms should be seen as a fundamental part of a digital transformation agenda that is becoming increasingly imperative across the UK business landscape. If a business or organisation can capture data across the full range of its communications channels, it can ultimately leverage closer relationships with customers, improve efficiency and create real competitive advantage.
Mailroom automation is the bridge between the paper-based processes that offices will always deal with and the demands to digitally transform their operational models.
Paper may never truly disappear, but by using the right technologies information can be easily absorbed into digitised processes alongside email, web forms and other communications formats – enabling organisations to reduce the risk of non-compliance through lost or misplaced documents.
The good news is that increasingly large numbers of businesses and organisations in the UK are recognising the benefits that digital technologies can bring: two-fifths (40%) of respondents in the EDM study, for instance, said they believed that a digital mailroom would improve the overall performance of their business. In other words, this is not just digital transformation, this is business transformation.
EDM GROUP CASE STUDY – HMRC
HMRC provides services to 41 million individuals and eight million businesses, collecting more than £500 billion in tax revenues a year. In the course of providing its services HMRC receives 70 million letters a year and sends out 200 million outbound items.
HMRC were targeted to reduce operating costs by £235 million a year while delivering the same performance results for phone response & mail handing. Due to the nature of the documents required to be processed, HMRC would require a dedicated physical mailroom environment.
EDM delivered a dedicated outsourced Digital Mailroom environment within a four month implementation period. This mailroom now processes over 30,000 mail items per day within SLA’s of 36 to 48 hours. The solution has resulted in up to 95% automatic classification of document type, subject matter and ID of customer. This enables ‘correct routing’ of mail to the nominated recipient within HMRC without the need of manual intervention.
Strategically, the Digital Mailroom has enabled HMRC to consolidate five large regional post hubs into one and has improved customer service through significantly enhanced care of valuable documents with full visibility and traceability.
In addition, EDM Group has recently introduced Robotics automation as a platform to HMRC, significantly increasing efficiency and savings on labour costs. This is also now central to the evolution of HMRC’s on-going Digital Transformation strategy.