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By Dale Rayner, CIO, AJ Park
How do you look out for new trends and what is your way of implementing them?
As we all know, the IT sector is rapidly changing and it is not often cost effective to keep up and be on the leading edge of technology. There is no point making a change for the sake of change; it should be because of an efficiency gain or monetary saving. We need to fully understand the problem we are trying to solve or the process we are trying to improve and what the end goal is. The best way of implementing is to get people on board from the beginning, ensuring a successful outcome. We spend a lot of time thinking about how to engage our stakeholders before we roll out new technologies.
How do you identify the right solution providers for your projects?
We like to work alongside solution providers who already have had experience in a similar project. We have found that it is best to use the people who have had experience in the past rather than someone who's learning as they go as they haven’t had any past experience. When we moved Exchange in the cloud, our in-house IT team had no past project experience in that area at all, so we found a provider that had implemented this for other organizations. Using a solution provider with previous experience saved a lot of time and worked on our part because they already knew the steps that were required and the things to look out for.
How do innovative cloud technologies impact the document management sector?
I think there is a lot of opportunity for cloud storage technology to improve efficiency and definitely increase the bottom line. There are reductions in hardware costs and administration costs. Being able to access documents from anywhere is great for people who can't make it into the office because they’re working from home, visiting clients or traveling. Business continuity is very important to us, and in New Zealand, we're prone to earthquakes and can’t access our offices so not relying on the paper file is very important. All types of documents can be stored electronically so there is not such a need to keep that physical file. Innovative cloud technologies make document management available to anybody, whether you’re an individual or a large enterprise, it doesn’t matter.
What is your disaster recovery strategy?
We have an office in another city so can fail over if required, our backups are to the cloud and our big focus for 2018 will be moving to a paperless environment.
We are looking at workflow automation, using B2B to send information to other 3rd parties, like intellectual property offices
What are some of the generic trends and challenges that you see in the technology space?
The trend of the remote worker with flexible working hours and locations is becoming more popular so providing the right solution for working remotely is important. The solution must be simple, works on any device and is secure.
The growth of big data analytics, especially in the document management space, is another trend. There is so much potential in this area, with search engines learning and understanding what the user is trying to find just based on the type of searches and documents the user creates. This will be quite a change for users to understand the full potential of what is possible.
Also collaborating with clients is a big challenge. Clients have different needs and there are a number of alternative options available to assist with collaboration.
How do you address the security concerns?
Being an IP firm, we take data security really seriously. We have software installed at all different levels of our network to make sure we are protected and quickly notified of any threat. We encrypt our backups and have software that monitors email for malware, unsafe links etc.
We are actively looking at implementing two-factor authentication and we have software installed on our devices that will look for data that is being copied to an external device or any other unusual behavior. All of these preventative measures doesn’t of course stop someone from walking out with the physical file so even more of a reason to become paperless.
How do you foster the work culture?
We are always thinking about ways to help make our colleagues more efficient and more effective. Whether that is automating a process or giving them the tools they need to be able to complete their job effectively. Our main focus is always on our clients.
Any initiatives you currently oversee?
We are looking at workflow automation, using B2B to send information to other 3rd parties, like intellectual property offices. This is a necessary step to becoming paperless and will be a significant productivity gain. We can’t be paperless with paper dominant solutions. Workflow automation and a B2B/B2G solution will create huge time-savings for us because it takes away double entry into different systems, reduces the risk of any data entry errors and will improve the service to our clients.
How do you measure the effectiveness of the tools and services in place?
Every project we undertake has a slightly different approach. For example, the workflow automation and introduction of B2B/B2G would be measured by the reduction in the turnaround time from receiving instructions and reporting the outcome or completion to our clients and another measure would be the reduction in corrections required. Also, the feedback from our assistants helps us measure our service effectively.