Image by: Yuri_Arcurs, ©2017 Getty Images

Today, there is a growing expectation for almost all workflow tasks to be digitized in some way. It feels jarring to many customers when they are required to use paper-based processes, make an in-person appearance, or even make a phone call to a customer service representative to complete a transaction that could be done digitally. It’s strange to think that only 10 years ago, there were no automated options available for everyday processes like paying a parking ticket, placing a coffee order, or getting a medical question answered by a physician—all of which have digital options today. Research shows that 88% of customers expect the ability to complete business digitally. This demand is causing a major shift within the business world.

To serve the increasingly impatient customer, many enterprises are feeling the pressure to raise the bar on automation, speed, and productivity through digitalization. However, there are industries still struggling to fully embrace this transition. The time, expense, and logistics involved are admittedly daunting, but with the right solution, the benefits significantly outweigh the challenges.

Tapping into the Power of Workflow Automation

While any industry will benefit from automating their workflows, higher education, government, and banking industries have particularly large areas of opportunity.

Higher Education: From the tens of thousands of applications that universities receive each year to the vast number of student records they must manage for past and present students, universities are responsible for an immense number of documents.

Despite the overwhelming volume of documents across all university departments, many institutions have yet to make the transition away from manual, paper-based processes that ultimately increase costs and decrease productivity. These document-intensive processes stand in stark contrast to the increasingly fast-paced, digital world in which students live. College students have unlimited access to information at their fingertips, and they expect the same speed of accessibility to their educational records.

Universities have the opportunity to embrace the demands of their student body by implementing workflow automation solutions that transform repetitive, error-prone, and tedious tasks into highly accurate and automated processes that save time and money.

By optimizing business processes, banks can ultimately improve the overall customer experience.

Government: Dealing with documents is a daily routine for government agencies. The variety of documents and records handled by government agencies is endless—such as permit applications, title transfers, vehicle registrations, tax returns, certificates of all kinds, etc. Furthermore, every document represents a touchpoint in a process that often links to a request from a citizen, another agency, or department.

Good document management is a priority for a successful government operation, but success becomes harder to achieve as document volumes increase and as citizens’ expectations challenge traditional ways of service. In fact, according to research conducted by Deloitte, 76% of government agencies lag behind the private sector in digital adoption, and two-thirds of government agencies spend more than one-third of their time processing paper documents. Government agencies are also facing a steep challenge to fill vacant information technology (IT) positions and retain top talent for the long term. GovtJobs found that 86% of agencies are struggling to fill vacant IT positions. Making matters worse, a study by NASCIO found that a shortage of qualified candidates for state IT positions hinders 66% of states from achieving strategic IT initiatives.

With digitalized document processes, agencies are more productive, documents are more secure, and government employees have more time to provide exceptional personal service to constituents. It also helps government IT leaders address those staffing concerns. When process automation drives your digital journey, organizations can eliminate low-level, paper-based manual tasks and reallocate employee efforts to focus on high-level initiatives.

Banking: According to Capgemini’s 2017 World Retail Banking Report, only 53.7% of bank customers globally are likely to stay with their primary bank, emphasizing that “one way for banks to promote profitable behaviors is to deliver positive customer experiences.” The banking industry continues to be one of the most paper-bound industries, leading to frustration for customers and ultimately a high rate of customer churn. Banks are also particularly prone to repetitive and error-prone data entry, hard-to-find documents, and a lack of secure and auditable records. Digital technology has disrupted customer expectations for banking, and increasing regulatory constraints, cost pressures, and legacy systems are making it hard for traditional banks to keep up with the evolution.

Workflow automation presents an opportunity for banks to digitize and automate timely, paper-based processes to give employees access to all the information they need to do their jobs more efficiently and to keep customers happy. By optimizing business processes, banks can ultimately improve the overall customer experience—a must in today’s competitive banking environment.

Don’t Keep Customers Waiting for Digital Progress

More and more, customers won’t wait around for the companies they regularly interact with to go digital. Instead, they’ll swiftly move along to a company that already is. For businesses in any industry, it’s now or never. Choose to embrace the demands of your customers by automating processes that better serve the needs of a digital population or risk falling behind your competitors with time-intensive, paper-laden processes that only lead to frustration.

Wasim A. Khan is the Head of Xerox Global Workflow Automation unit and the General Manager of the Xerox DocuShare software business. Prior to this, Wasim held numerous roles in Xerox as the Senior Director for Business Offerings for Workflow Automation of the Xerox Large Enterprise Operations. He is currently based in Palo Alto, California.