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Digital transformation, defined as “the process of using digital technologies to modify existing, or create new business processes, culture, and customer experiences to meet changing business and market requirements can be seen as anything technology-based which can successfully deliver a viable business outcome. At its genesis, the approach to create successful digital transformation must begin as a manual process—repetitive, clunky and yet critically important—with a ripeness for innovation.

These business-critical functions can be automated to assist the people in your business, who are your most valuable and expensive resource—and help them focus on the high-value tasks that directly contribute to your business.
At Canon Business Services ANZ, we’ve identified three key initiatives you can implement to help overcome your business challenges in 2024:
  1. Manage digital transformation as a whole, define what it is to your organisation, illustrate how broad it can be, and demonstrate the underpinning tools;
  2. Draw a parallel between digital transformation and customer experience and how to supplement and enhance the parallel; and
  3. Delineate the role automation has within digital transformation.

1. Digital transformation and change management

If your business is attempting to accomplish digital transformation on a national basis, the biggest issue is often transforming paper-based processes—simple things such as tax returns, government permits, input on regulation, and the like. This can involve incentivising an operative shift for those who may be more comfortable with manual processes, to help them think beyond the limited benefits of paper.
Your team members may be determined to continue doing things as they always have and could struggle to wait for form data until it’s processed. This is a global issue for many businesses yet to take on digital transformation and must be addressed in a way that allows the proposed transformation to not only replicate, but exceed, manual processes.

Additionally, the adoption of change involves the internal processes a solutions provider must navigate to effect change. It can be a lengthy process, whereby change in management and perception can pose a significant challenge internally. There is little, or no benefit gained simply from digitising the paper process—opportunity instead lies in the increase of data ingested, and the ability to search for data effectively and gain actionable insights from it.

How can you start the change-management process?

Starting the change-management process involves approaching a proactive partner that can assist with your journey. At Canon Business Services (CBS), we believe change management is fundamental. We execute processes which streamline and optimise with an enhanced digital element that ensures time savings, combined savings, additional reporting, and process analytics.

Our approach is handled in a way that engages your people in the journey. With a holistic audit of your business process, we help each member of your team visualise how automation can assist them individually and provide them with an understanding of how their role will positively transform.
Our skill lies in remodeling the raw material your business has manually processed for years into meaningful business data for your existing systems. We remove the noise in the middle whenever possible. The outcome? Capturing and delivering data in a streamlined way, enhanced by digital transformation.

Approaching the why conversation

Are you asking the right questions internally? Our team begins with the “why” conversation, which questions the benefit of the individual legacy processes your business currently implements. Here are some example questions that we might ask you before we begin your digital transformation.
  • Where is this document going?
  • When it gets there, and the recipient processes it, where does it go?
  • Do you pay someone?
  • Does someone approve of it?
  • Do you make a payment?
  • Do you enter it into a system?
  • What are the subsets of data?
  • How do you receive the subsets?
  • Where is the uplift?
Once the above questions have been answered appropriately, you are much closer to being equipped with the information that will assist in identifying which elements of digital transformation could be right for your business, and how CBS can help you with the implementation.

2. Customer experience is your differentiator

There is a clear parallel between business automation, and the digital transformation objective or strategy which can help to underpin and supplement your customer experience. This type of key differentiator in the marketplace will set your business apart from your peers and competitors.

For traditionally focused industries, understanding this parallel is critical. These are companies where customers prefer what is familiar and are resistant to change. Digital transformation can only be successful here if it is sensitive to the customer experience and may often lead to multiple iterations of transformation.

You must be mindful of your customers, target audience, and their experiences. When too much change is implemented too quickly, digital transformation may fail because your customers cannot, or will not, embrace it.

The benefit of an iterative deployment process

People often perceive automation as the simple process of converting a paper process into a digital document. If a business already knows what the outcome should be, it can be difficult to distinguish the benefit of the journey without presenting the ultimate solution. In many cases, digital transformation must be phase-driven for good reason, despite the big win the final product represents.

In an iterative deployment, the first iteration may appear similar to the paper process—even to the point of setting the same fonts, design and layout as its paper-based predecessor. Subsequent iterations implement subtle changes, but each improves the process, until the final result is a complete departure from the original process and a reflection of new, digital implementation.
The challenge within this process is presented when the business must tweak how quickly things can move, to accommodate for and reflect the rate at which the employee can adapt. If you employ a workforce where your people have had a career spanning 30 to 40 years, there is valuable knowledge to harness, and your business must be sure to continue to benefit from it. Equally, you must also provide the rest of the business with access to more efficient processes. By doing so, your people can benefit from automation and are freed from spending their workday on tedious manual tasks.

The importance of your team alongside digital automation

With age and experience within a particular business comes wisdom. Some of the most experienced people in your taskforce are likely the ones capable of providing solutions if something fails. They naturally carry undocumented knowledge and must be part of the digital transformation discussion up front.
Here again, you must ask, “What is the outcome?”, “What are some of the quick benefits?”, or “What is the ultimate business outcome we are trying to achieve?”. These questions are important to such individuals, as it discloses the roll-out strategy and adoption your business is considering. The change-management component must be the first thing to address because it represents a barrier to digital transformation. If your team won’t join you on the journey, there’s no reason to take it.

Every business’s landscape is different. Though there is no single blueprint for how to roll out a digital transformation strategy, there are innumerable options depending upon the landscape. What’s most important is to be outcome-focused and understand what works best for your company. Implement what will ultimately supplement your customer’s experience best and you promote longevity.

3. Understanding the automation-first mindset

“Canon Business Services holds the belief that anything that can be automated, will be automated”
Ken Hickey, Head of Business Process Solutions, Canon Business Services
The automation-first mindset is centred around having business process automation front-of-mind, particularly when establishing a new process. At this point, an existing legacy process that your team may be comfortable with is not yet in place, and this opens up opportunities to change the way they work.

For those who started implementing robotic process automation (RPA) in-house capabilities 12-months ago, your automation may just be going live. If you’ve not yet started your journey, you may think you have the typical 12-month lead time ahead of you. However, CBS can speed up this process significantly, reducing lead time to weeks, not years.
This period of time is where you can benefit from CBS' model as a service (RPA-as-a-service), in which we deploy robots remotely into your business. These are integrated into your business through existing interfaces to get you up and running more quickly.
“Automation is just going to become a way of life for us as we move forward”
Matt Viola, Head of Account Management, Canon Business Services
When considering automation, you must ask yourself, “How is it going to be a value to my business?”. The primary benefit of automation is that it is nearly function-agnostic. When discussing the way data is processed, it is the value of that data in its endpoint and intended resting place that is most prevalent throughout the automation journey. You must review the kind of process you plan to automate in your business, as well as its function, before selecting the right kind of automation process to match.

Automation Toolkit

Detangle the automation journey with a guide to start your automation strategy in this free-to-use tool and personalised report.

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Approaching an automation solution for your business

At CBS, we can work to construct a contemporary front-end system in the cloud where you can complete tasks, such as approvals, more easily. For businesses that have expensive ERP systems, these are a permanent fixture and unlikely to depreciate since it pays all the bills. Our solution is to move processes (such as approvals in the workflow) to a fully customised platform and import the completed payment file into the ERP system so it can pay invoices. This cloud-based system is much faster and less expensive.

Peppol is a government-mandated, electronic-invoicing framework, which will enable businesses to get paid almost in real-time. Peppol enables a small business to send an electronic invoice, rather than paper or email. It is a joint government initiative that has been driven by the ATL in Australia and MBI in New Zealand. We predict it will be mandated for the government beginning in 2024 and that the public sector will follow. CBS already has this capability in-house, ready for deployment to your business.

A successful digital transformation strategy should have numerous touchpoints, like those discussed in this article. These coincide with our mantra for the purpose of all businesses we partner with: what is not core to your business is probably core to our business. We free your processes, allowing you to achieve more and focus on things such as customer experience.

A partnership with Canon Business Services

Many businesses realise that in order to ensure the longevity of their operations, they must cut costs, minimise tedious manual processes, as well as streamline and rationalise core business functions. If your business has identified an immediate problem that requires digital transformation and automation, then you must also identify whether that problem is something that can be addressed internally, or outsourced. If the answer is outsourcing, you must search for someone who can get your business back to optimal performance quickly.

At CBS, we offer advice through collaboration, consultation and thought leadership, in order to help companies, navigate the journey to digital transformation. In some cases, this means we revise how an organisation has done things, even if that process has been historically functional for years. We can also help businesses who have started on their automation journey already, but are struggling to get it right, or have found a need to optimise it.

Our team works to encourage transformation adoption by helping stakeholders fundamentally understand the approach, as well as the endgame. We ask hard questions and pose real-world examples to your staff. We ask your clients to examine individual documents, describe what they do with them, and their desired outcome. These exercises enable us to work backward, starting with the outcome to design a solution.

It is a process that works. One in which we are able to demonstrate that streamlining or optimising is not a matter of replicating manual processes in a digital format; but revising the process entirely to ensure time savings, combined savings, additional reporting, and analytics on the process.

If you’re interested in learning more about how Canon Business Services could help your business accelerate digital transformation, reach out to one of our team members today.

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