Ageing back office legacy systems are holding back 79 per cent of UK and wider European businesses from fully streamlining their business critical document processes, research published by Ricoh UK reveals. 

This is despite the majority of businesses recognising the transformational power of new technologies to help them be more agile in a fast-changing market, and highlights the disconnected approach to business technology and business-critical document processes across the UK and Europe today.

The research, part two of the Ricoh Document Governance Index 2012, reveals that while UK businesses say that new devices such as smartphones and tablets are helping them manage their business critical document processes, the majority are unable to maximise such technologies because their back-end systems can’t fully support them.

The study highlights how tempting new technologies can be, with 78 per cent of business leaders admitting they invest in new technology before fully realising the functionality of their existing systems. It also uncovered a clear divide between front and back office technology investments, with many focusing on new technology for the front office while failing to integrate it with the back office. This disjointed approach to process management could mean document processes are exposed to bottle necks, duplication of effort, and security risk.

“Whether businesses believe tablets and smartphones are the business tools of the future, or will be superseded by the next wave of innovation, it’s clear is that technology driven change will continue and with it bring new ways of working and communicating. For business, the challenge is to plan for the long term and bring everyone in the organisation on the same journey at the same time. That means fully integrating the front and back office, connecting people with information, and enabling collaboration and knowledge sharing seamlessly throughout the organisation.” said Phil Keoghan, CEO, Ricoh UK.

The research also indicated confusion about how to best use the cloud for business advantage. While 70 per cent of UK and European businesses are using the cloud to enable mobile access to document processes, only 50 per cent believe that it is making their document process management easier.

This highlights the lack of planning by business leaders who are investing in the cloud without having the structures in place to ensure it will deliver the desired improvements. It also means that many businesses will fail to benefit from their share of the predicted annual boost of €160 billion that the European Commission predicts cloud computing will add to the European Union’s GDP by 2020.

Keoghan concluded: “UK organisations must take action now to review their business critical process and technology in tandem to ensure their businesses are working to maximum efficiency. A deep understanding of how document processes work – including how information flows through a company and how technology can help that information flow more smoothly – is crucial to truly understand the challenges and identify solutions. Technology innovation is set to continue at an unprecedented rate, so businesses need to act now if they are to keep ahead of the competition.”