We sat down with Bill Johnson, the VP of Sales at Parascript to find out about his thoughts on digital transformation, its impact on the industry and how self-learning software promises to accelerate change in document workflow processes.
R2: When you think of digital transformation what comes to mind?
Bill Johnson: In the broad sense, it means moving to a more total digital working environment that includes “going paperless.” Some even measure our progress as a function of “digital maturity.”
Some even measure our progress as a function of “digital maturity.”
R2: So, where is the USA in terms of digital maturity?
BJ: Interestingly enough, even though we have been engaged in ECM technologies for over 25 years, according to McKinsey, the United States has only reached 18% of its digital potential. The UK is at 17%; Europe is at 12%; and Germany is sitting at 10%.
So while major businesses and major economies are aggressively pursuing digital transformation and transaction digitization, the actual adoption rate is relatively low even in the most technically advanced societies.
R2: Why are the adoption rates so low?
BJ: I can’t think of a single thing that we would have to invent to achieve this. All the technology exists. All we have to do is assemble it. It can’t be motivation; it’s all anyone is talking about in our circles. Perhaps, its bandwidth and accessibility in some countries, but this doesn’t explain the slow progress in the USA, EU, Germany and other countries. My guess is that it’s the human ability to address, accept and adopt change within a time frame. Change management might be the greatest impediment to increasing our “digital maturity.”
Change management might be the greatest impediment to increasing our digital maturity.
R2: What makes you think that change management is the culprit?
BJ: To accomplish any goal, we have to have a plan. First, we need to design and implement new systems, a process and procedures to facilitate the digital transactions day forward. There are plenty of tools and capabilities available today to achieve this. In order to accomplish that we need to architect the solution, select the product/platforms, define the naming conventions, records management attributes then build it and roll it out. This includes taxonomy definitions, data normalization and migration aspects.
All of this involves a lot of departments, stakeholders and people. Not just the business users and various departments, but the infrastructure, database, security, test and compliance, and support people as well. If we are consolidating to–or standardizing on–a single ECM platform and repository, it could take months just to arrive at that selection since few are anxious to leave their own process.
R2: Yikes, it could turn into an epic project taking years to complete and costing millions.
BJ: True enough. In actuality, no one likes change unless it was their idea. Couple that with the notion that there can be no possibility for progress without change, and perhaps, we have identified the real obstacle to increasing our digital maturity and achieving digital transformation. I believe the real constraint is rooted in human nature, not technology.
R2: How do we get beyond these very human constraints to achieve digital transformation?
BJ: Any project that involves a lot of decision makers and is multi-departmental in nature requires executive sponsorship because the mandate has to come from the top and then everyone else has to be won over. It’s not an easy task, but it starts there. And then, you have the technology to deal with.
Greatest Challenges with the Technology Project
BJ: The issue with technology projects all too often is, they are multi-phased from a deployment standpoint, and the overall benefit is dependent upon getting to the final stage. This means you incur costs without any benefit until you are completely done. Given the nature of these projects that often includes scope creep, awareness of new opportunities in design and development, the project can drag on for an extended amount of time, change along the way or, get canceled altogether.
R2: What do you suggest to overcome technology issues, and where does the Parascript Paradigm fit into all of this?
BJ: I am a fan of the multi-phased project approach. However, I strive to architect the solution so that each phase stands on its own from a productivity, contribution and ROI standpoint. That way, if for whatever reason, you elect to pause or change direction, you don’t sacrifice any investment or effort expended on the initial phases. Once you have enough information from the previous phase, you start the ensuing phase, essentially overlapping them. I find this to be a very effective way of deploying, and this provides the shortest possible evolution of the project.
R2: You’re talking about the “biggest bang for buck” then?
BJ: Precisely, and that’s where the Parascript Paradigm comes in. Parascript FormXtra.AI reduces cost, increases productivity and improves throughput in the capture area. We also reduce the number of errors released into the workflow so we have a positive catalytic effect on the business processes we serve as their productivity will increase simply because they can devote more time to workable transactions instead of dealing with capture based errors. We often see 20% improvement in workflow efficiency, or more, without directly touching it. That’s the 1-10-100 concept.
We often see 20% improvement in workflow efficiency, or more, without directly touching it.
The 1:10:100 Rule Applied
R2:Tell us about that.
BJ: We use the 1:10:100 rule to quantify the hidden costs of poor quality. If it takes one unit of work to facilitate a transaction or prevent an error, it will take 10 units to correct it when discovered in mid-process. If the item makes it all the way through the process and fails, it could take 100 times the level of effort to correct it.
We can use the 1:10:100 rule to measure cost in terms of resources or time.
The 1-10-100 rule does a good job of identifying the cost of errors and the value of preventing them. Essentially, we can determine in advance what our predicted savings and capital performance would be in each phase of the project and how the larger effort can literally become self-funding.
R2: So where does a business start when they’re assessing project savings and ROI?
BJ: As Enterprise Content Capture Optimization (ECCO) provides the greatest level of benefit for the least amount of cost and deployment complexity, I would start there. By simply inserting Parascript FormXtra.AI in between your current customer/vendor transaction and the workflow they serve, you will start getting benefits & savings both in the capture area and the business processes.
Leave Existing Platforms in Place
BJ: Concurrently, rather than pick a single ECM platform to start with, I would leave all the existing platforms and processes in place, requiring no change at the department level. I would however, no longer domicile or archive the transaction in the particular workflow process, rather, I would have the last step in the workflow release to a unified and federated enterprise repository that has Records Management capability.
Maintain Full Transparency
BJ: This would require very little to no change to the customer/vendor behavior or the workflow process. It could quite literally be transparent to them. Business as usual so to speak, and yet, we have met the letter and spirit of the project goals and objectives. Then, the enterprise would have more time to study which ECM platform best suited their needs, test those assumptions and plan a scheduled transition from one product to the enterprise platform in appropriate succession based on need, priority and benefit. A baton pass if you will and a very smooth move.
R2: What about all that corporate history? Wouldn’t there be a ton of legacy documents, file types and formats in multiple locations? How do you deal with these?
BJ: Normally, this would be a very daunting task. In fact, it could be the biggest part of the project, but Parascript actually makes it simple.
Now that you have the day forward processing stood up and going you can literally use Parascript FormXtra.AI to facilitate legacy migration, data normalization, taxonomy enforcement and Records Management assignments.
R2: That sounds great, but how exactly do you do that?
BJ: Parascript FormXtra.AI can monitor drop zones, watch folders, file shares, etc. All you have to do is export the image and its associated meta-data to a fileshare that the software is monitoring. Parascript software picks up the image, confirms the classification and extracts data based on the current production rules. Parascript compares the legacy metadata with machine-driven extracted data, corrects it if necessary and, if you stored with 8 indexes 9 years ago and you want 12 now, those indexes can be enhanced. On release, Parascript normalizes the output, such as W-2 would always be W-2, and Parascript assigns the Records Management attribute for retention and disposition and sends it into the repository. This could happen in a lights-out mode during off peak processing time.
R2: That sounds like a very tough job made easy. I know you though, Bill. Where’s the “BUT wait, there’s more…”?
BJ: Since Parascript has its own OCR engines and offers a single technology stack, you could full-page OCR all of the legacy documents & artifacts and release that file into the repository or database. This would expose the content of the documents, not just stored metadata or indexes, which would go a long way in satisfying GDPR requirements if the company is liable for that.
R2: So if I’m understanding you, Parascript could release the files into an RPA-driven cognitive process for analysis?
BJ: Exactly! And, think about all the stuff still stored in paper, film or archives. We can handle it all.
If you found this interview interesting, you might find Document Automation at the Core of Cognitive RPA a useful read: