By Daniel Hunter

Emerging trends such as big data have triggered a major shake-up of business priorities, according to a new study from Ricoh.

The report, conducted on behalf of Ricoh by Coleman Parkes, entitled Ricoh Document Governance Index 2012, has been compiled from 1,075 interviews amongst C-level executives, directors and other employees in Europe. It investigates how document processes — the processes that keep employees on board, cash flowing, and legal requirements satisfied — are being managed, comparing the findings to a benchmark set in 2009.

The report reveals the major global trends impacting businesses operations. These include big data, with 91 per cent of respondents citing the increasing amounts of data they now face as having the most impact on their ability to manage critical processes within their businesses, taking focus and resource away from revenue generating activities. Businesses also identified managing multiple vendors and emerging high growth economies as having a major impact on their organisations, which has in-turn created further amounts of data that they are required to manage.

Crucially, these trends have had a radical impact on business priorities. The research found that in just three years, European businesses have replaced a focus on cost, efficiency and the environment, with a focus on business risk. 65 per cent of respondents say they have now set targets for business risk in relation to their business-critical document processes, nearly four times as many as in 2009.

The importance of transparency with overall business goals was also highlighted, with 64 per cent of respondents saying they set targets for processes to be aligned with overall business goals, compared to just 15 per cent in 2009 confirming the same.

These findings are in stark contrast with the results of the Ricoh Document Governance Index 2009. The focus for European businesses three years ago was basic cost and efficiency, with 67 per cent of businesses setting targets for cost and 59 per cent for efficiency, compared to 43 per cent and 51 per cent today.

Environmental sustainability also appears to have been neglected by today’s businesses as they struggle to manage increasing amounts of data, multiple vendors and emerging markets, with only 33 per cent of businesses having a target for it, making it the lowest ranking target compared to three years ago (41 per cent).

“It’s clear that the fast changing business landscape has triggered a huge shift in priorities for European organisations over the last three years and this pace of change is likely to continue for the foreseeable future,” said Phil Keoghan, CEO, Ricoh UK.

“In this era of uncertainty, reacting to industry trends by diverting resources can increase risk in other areas of the organisation. To prevent this, businesses need to strategically align all critical document processes to ensure all areas of the organisation receive the attention they deserve, are optimised and are prepared to meet the challenges of tomorrow.”

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