New Articles
  June 4th, 2021 | Written by

The Digital Highway: How to further your company’s digital transformation through a shared digital space

[shareaholic app="share_buttons" id="13106399"]

As 2020 forced companies to move their employees largely from shared offices to individual home offices, the exchange of digital information became even more vital and the process of digital transformation was accelerated. Without the ability to physically interact with a printed document in a group setting, collaboration has moved to a virtual space and the digital exchange of documents, whether that be via email, remote conferencing solutions, or shared cloud solutions, is more common than ever.

When thinking about a company’s shared digital space, consider it a digital highway, with documents and information zipping around between users and being shared across two opposing directions. This framework encourages enterprising companies to think of this shift to the digital exchange of information in terms of an on-ramp and off-ramp and then determine how they are best enabling employees to get important information on and off that digital highway.

Determining employee needs

Before deciding on how to implement the digital transformation for your organization, consider how information is being shared currently. Does your sales team print out each contract for a signature and then save the hard copy? What about HR paperwork? If you have transitioned to an online onboarding solution, hard copies of W-2s might not be printed in your office anymore. Determining how your organization is currently sharing information and the pain points of that sharing will help define the best way to digitize moving forward.

Getting on the digital highway – from paper to digital

How does information get on the digital highway within an organization? While some documents are created digitally and stay digital throughout their lifecycle, others exist in the physical world on paper, such as signed documents, written notes, reports, contracts, and forms. Scanning those documents from paper to digital is the on-ramp onto the digital highway. When users can’t walk over to their colleague’s cubicle to share the document, file it away in a file cabinet, or drop the file into interoffice mail, the file must be digitized.

Digitizing physical paper makes archiving documents much more efficient, eliminating excess paper files and the need for filing cabinets or storage. For example, a doctor has endless files on all their patients and needs to be able to quickly access those files at any given moment. Having these files digitized makes it possible to find a patient’s file at the click of a button, instead of thumbing through a physical file cabinet to find a paper version. Furthermore, the doctor can also edit this file digitally, adding notes after a patient’s visit or updating their list of medications.

Getting off the digital highway – from digital to paper

Conversely, sometimes information needs to get off the digital highway. Taking an existing document that exists only digitally and making a real-world copy is an often-cited requirement for many industries. Some contracts still require a “wet signature.” Some documents can only be productively reviewed if printed. Some customers and clients may expect or even need physical delivery of paperwork. And even if it’s not a requirement, certainly hardcopy it is a preference for some. Moreover, looking at screens is a drain on the eyes and mind, while interacting with paper can be more productive in many cases.

Printed documents are still very much a part of business transactions today, and many industries still require physical copies for their records or legal reasons. Take the real estate business, for example, which utilizes both digital and physical documents. As a buyer goes through the steps of closing on their new home, they may sign paperwork digitally via applications like DocuSign. This digital paperwork allows the process to keep moving regardless of where the homeowners live in relation to the seller or real estate agent, but upon closing on the home, homeowners receive a physical copy of these documents, an important step in archiving and solidifying the process. The homeowner can then maintain a complete file with copies of all the paperwork that was signed during the transaction with the seller. Homeowners are encouraged to keep a physical copy of this paperwork for several years even after they sell this home so they can easily reference or review it, or use it in the event that they need to file a legal claim.

Choosing the right solutions

Technological advances, such as mobile print and scan apps, connect the digital and physical worlds within a company’s technological ecosystem from an easily accessible device like a cell phone. Companies that take full advantage of technology such as this can enable their employees a simple interchange between the digital and the physical worlds from a device in which every employee is already armed with. Those that started using these technologies prior to the pandemic were poised for a better transition and will continue to be in today’s changing work environments, compared to those that have focused solely on digital or solely on physical information exchange.

There are substantial benefits to both employees and employers in connecting the digital and physical worlds. For one, solutions that connect these two worlds streamline workflow in any industry, increasing the efficiency and productivity of employees. They further an organization’s digital transformation while ensuring simple solutions for employees that don’t require extensive IT knowledge. They also create business resiliency by maintaining some normalcy for employees who have different job functions and require different equipment. Increasingly we are seeing companies investing more in at-home set-ups and in the future, printing and scanning solutions could be part of that setup. And the companies that give more time and energy to their digital transformations will best be set up for the changing future of our workplaces and work environments.