The  2010 FIFA World Cup – the hugely popular international soccer tournament happening this year in South Africa – is underway. One of the nations playing in this esteemed sporting event is Italy; I thought that would be a good jumping-off point for reflections on my recent business trip to Italy.

Meeting with a large Italian governmental organization revealed to me some real-world examples of the following truths:

1. Large enterprisesn significantly value their relationship with a vendor, even above software functionality! That relationship, ideally, includes:

  • Implementation support that is aimed at a successful outcome for customers
  • Responsive customer support
  • Listening to customer feedback in order to continually improve the customer experience
  • Sharing of information about the future product roadmap
  • If there are issues, someone is there who is focused on ensuring that customers remain successful (This may seem obvious, but in the real world, not always)

Much to our surprise, our main competitors (not naming names, but these are vendors that serve huge government and private-sector enterprises) seem to fall short in these relationship skills. We kept hearing this, again and again, in talks with large European organizations.

2. Enterprises are drowning in paper, yet many of them are not up-to-speed on what they can do to automate their workflows.Another recent business trip – this time to NYC for the day – confirmed for me that enterprises  – especially government organizations which are historically bureaucratic – quickly find themselves inundated by a mountain of paper documents if they do not have an innovative document strategy.

Need to Do More than Store

The organization’s initial solution is put something in place to allow them to scan and store electronic images of those documents. Great, that solves their immediate catastrophic pain; but it doesn’t do anything to allow them to extract intelligence or easily retrieve those documents in the future.

Intelligence extraction is typically a result of the Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology that searches text, after which business rules are applied to determine specific metadata. Therein lies the real intelligence hidden within documents – intelligence that is needed to make the right business decisions, quickly and easily.

Sound obvious? It’s not to the many organizations drowning in a literal sea of 10s or 100s of thousands of documents – a flow that never slows. So, a successful enterprise must have a plan in place to appropriately deal with that onslaught. And that plan must involve automated workflows.

My experience working with customers is that once an organization has committed to solving the problem of electronically storing their documents, they are very open to using some sort of automated workflow solution.

But they often don’t know the options, or advantages, of automated workflow. It’s my job to get out there, intercontinentally, with our partners and on our own, to help educate organizations on the sea change that automated workflows will make to their bottom line… Man, I love my job!