Most of us have had this conversation—either as a child, or with a child:
Child: Dad, I really want a skateboard.
Parent: Well, you already have a bicycle. Plus you’re awfully clutzy; you can barely walk in a straight line, so I don't think so.
Child: But everyone else in school has a skateboard.
Parent: If everyone else in school jumped off a bridge, would you do that, too?
End of discussion.
Now, fast-forward 25 years.
Employee: I really think that we should upgrade our capture operations to include sophisticated OCR (optical character recognition).
Boss: Well, the 2-year investment in that tool isn't really attractive to market conditions, it isn't client-facing, and the IT department is already up to its elbows upgrading the ERP system for the fifth time in the last 10 years, so I don't think so.
Employee: But all of the leading organizations we compete with have this tool!
Boss: If everyone else we compete with jumped off a bridge, would you do that, too?
Huh. It may not happen exactly like this, but this is how it feels, fighting for IT dollars to improve your capture operations by putting in place the sophisticated technologies that are available today—not just OCR, but intelligent character recognition (ICR), electronic forms, and intelligent forms.
It’s time to shift the mindset behind this kind of technology investment. Truly functional, operational, and cost-effective OCR, born-digital forms and documents, and customer communications are not the product of this year’s investment in tools and process change. The leaders making use of these technologies didn't get there by selling a 2-year vision for changing their operational framework or by creating a united front. They got here by building a foundation, then learning from that experience—adding a little bit here, taking on a little more there, even failing a bit in a few places.
Let’s face it: Making a business digital takes time. It won't happen overnight, and it won't happen without the tools in place, tested, and ready. This program is a lot more like getting ready for a final exam. If you wait to the end of the semester to cram for the final, you might pass the test, but you won’t remember what you learned in 5 years (or maybe even in 5 days). Instead, if you do your homework, have a plan, bite off a little at a time, and visualize the picture of success, you will sell your initiative beyond the 2-year-return bucket that you’re being pushed into.
So change the boss’s mind. Use another line your parents always used on you: If you study a little bit every night, you’ll get good grades, get a good job, and live happily ever after.