Dematerialization of information: the first step towards a digital company

The digital transformation of documents is gaining ground! Previously limited to large companies and public authorities, the process is becoming more and more widespread and is now a realistic goal for all organizations, regardless of size and area of activity.

In view of the growing volumes of data to be processed every day, managing paper or digital documents and the issue of dematerialization remain critical problems in an ever more digital and connected world.

by Julien Poffet
ECM Manager at ELCA

The role of a clear governance strategy concerning both enterprise content management (ECM) and information management (EIM) is more important than ever, and is undoubtedly one of the keys to resolving the issues surrounding this problem. Whether voluntary or enforced, the digital revolution is under way – but how can we seize the opportunities it has to offer? Julien Poffet, ECM Manager at ELCA, covers the topic of digital transformation currently taking place in company workspaces, as well as digital workplace solutions.


What do we mean when we talk about electronic document management and dematerialization?

Electronic document management concerns the life cycle of a document, and incorporates every stage in this life cycle, from receipt to archiving, with each stage being controlled, managed and recorded. Thanks to the availability of a workflow, all employees know at all times what needs to be done – whether a document needs to be created, checked, validated, distributed or archived. Notifications can be used to let employees know when a task needs to be completed, or when one of their colleagues has made a document available on the document portal/collaborative platform. Originally referring to processes within a company, the term dematerialization also has wider use, and can be applied to procurement, supply, customer relationships, contact with public authorities and financial flows. It is important to note, however, that digital transformation is about more than just this! Dematerialization, i.e., the digital handling of documents and information, is the first stage in the digital transformation of an enterprise.


How does digital transformation manifest itself within a company? 

Digital transformation encompasses the progressive digitalization of all processes within a company, with the ultimate goal being to become a "digital enterprise". According to Gartner, the concept of the digital enterprise implies "the creation of new economic models that blur the boundaries between the physical and digital worlds". Take company workspaces, for example. We have been observing huge developments in professional use, thanks in particular to the possibilities offered by mobile technology. But from a more general perspective, we are witnessing a true paradigm shift in this area. If they are to respond successfully to the current challenges, companies need their workforce to be increasingly mobile and agile. This new need for mobility boils down to a progressive suppression of spatio-temporal constraints, a process that is revolutionizing work habits. Companies are affected by these developments, and are obliged to respond to this technical and cultural upheaval. The introduction of productivity tools and the digital workplace is proving to be an inevitable stage in the process of digital transformation.

What does this "digital workplace" change for the company and its employees?

The digital workplace enables employees to access, on a centralized platform, all of the information they have published or that has been made available to them by other departments within the company. The digital workplace allows for secure, reliable and mobile access to all information and tools needed by employees in their daily work. The digital workplace helps to promote productivity, cooperation and collaborative innovation, and therefore represents an excellent opportunity for companies to gain a competitive advantage in their respective market. In a workplace that focuses on customer data management, the digitalization of information makes it possible to have a 360° view of a customer from any location, thereby helping to improve customer service quality (responsiveness, follow-up, etc.). Above all, the digital workplace meets a need for adaptation in a changing world that is becoming ever more digital, mobile, connected and collaborative. Companies are required to rethink their corporate culture in the context of the digital workplace, to organize their digital transformation and to develop a collective intelligence – or risk losing productivity, customers and staff.


How is ELCA supporting its clients in the digital transformation process?

Given the large number of companies that have not yet begun to approach this issue or are struggling to implement digital technologies, digital pioneers are likely to take the lead in their respective sectors. This is a unique opportunity. If they are to successfully implement the transformation process and make full use of this digital revolution, organizations will need to master a whole range of new and improved technologies in areas that include enterprise document and collaboration management (OCR, taxonomy/research, collaborative platforms, etc.), business intelligence, big data (e.g. natural language processing (NLP)) , BPM, CRM, etc. The digital revolution that is under way is also based on a multichannel and, increasingly, omnichannel approach, with the cloud, mobile devises and social networks being the three key levers. As these new channels open up, a company’s information system becomes permeable to collaboration and innovation, but also to cyber-attacks. ELCA’s goal is to help its clients to choose, implement and master all of these sensitive technologies and gain a competitive advantage in the process. ELCA has, in particular, developed a technological and methodological toolbox to aid the process of digital transformation within companies, making use of the existing ECM environment – the ECM backbone. On top of this, our information security experts have significant experience in identifying risks and in developing the most effective security concepts to protect against them.