Conference Notes

Notes on Xythos Software "Is Green the New Black?" (August 2008, Online)

I was a panelist at today’s Is Green the New Black webinar hosted by Xythos Software. Here are the notes I took during the call. You can also register to listen to the recording of the call.

Panel Speakers
– Paul Bishop, Santa Barbara City College
– Sandy Schaeffer, University of Memphis, Advanced Learning Center
– Kevin Craine, Craine Communications and author, Designing a Document Strategy
– Jim Tell, Xythos Software
– Michael Sampson (that would be me)

The panel was moderated by Maria Miller, from Xythos Software.

What are the Business Benefits of Green Initiatives?
How do we change, and use document management and ECM to support great initiatives.

Analyst firm … “the average salaried worker will actively participate in at least five different ad hoc teams simultaneously, and 30% of these people will participate in teams with external participants.”

Green Universities
– (Paul) Green is the “new green”. There is pressure to reduce consumption of power (don’t build new power plants) and paper (the “paperless office” … to offset the cost of putting in new technology). Need a low-cost portable display that is better than ink on paper for books.
– (Paul) Now looking at new areas for saving money … automatically turning off computers and printers, new document management systems
– (Sandy) Seen a big rise in the enrollment of online students. Taking a course online is a huge expense, so delivering it online is a way of helping with this.

What’s Driving “Green” Initiatives
– (Kevin) People using a lot of paper still … the driver isn’t green initiatives per se. The average company is spending 6% of revenues for printing of paper. That’s about the first 16 days of the year just for the privilege of printing.
– (Maria) Therefore … a business needs to look at the strategy for making processes work effectively, and look at electronic ways of doing things.
– (Kevin) Many people are aware of the technologies and methodologies, and then need to gain support for the right solutions. “Green” provides yet another way of talking about the benefits … to a specific stakeholder. It’s another leverage point.
– (Jim) The drivers for green at the moment are currently around gas prices. Working to getting things online. Then … what other things can we do online.
– (Michael) Sees Location Independence within a collaboration infrastructure as a key idea … has both back-end system implications and endpoint device implications.
– (Maria) One educational customer of Xythos is giving all new students on iPhone or iPod for getting course material.
– (Jim) The support of the business process in the critical one … with green benefits as a secondary initiative
– (Maria) Another example is Volm, using digital display of information in client meetings, and then sharing a secure link to the information in Xythos after the meeting
– (Michael) Gives single sourcing (one copy, accessible everywhere) and ease of updating over time
– (Kevin) ECM is getting better to support enterprise-wide deployments
– (Maria to Paul) You have a lot of mobile staff, right?
– (Paul) Our students are very mobile — for face-to-face classes and then they are gone — Xythos provides a way to save lab results when in the lab, and then access them when away from campus. Also have an instructor out-of-state for delivering remote courses.
– (Sandy) If you can give people a way of doing old things in new ways, they will flock to it.

Question
Q. How do you sell the digitization of paper documents to senior management?
– (Jim) there are better tools available for this
– (Sandy) look for something small to get payback.
– (Michael) two things … (a) how geographically distributed is your organization, and (b) you could start from scanning all paper going forward, rather than going back through the historical record
– (Kevin) what’s the cost for doing nothing? Eg, business continuity, litigation risk. And can you improve on that?

How do we move ahead?
(Maria) What drivers do we use to move senior management ahead?
– (Kevin) Use any leverage point you can.
– (Michael) Immediate pain drives action.

An example of savings … from the City of Temecula, California: “Citizens are able to search through meeting minutes online instead of going to the city office to submit a request for the minutes, pay a fee and wait for it. This is a more responsible use of taxpayer dollars. The city is not just using less paper and saving trees, they are saving the citizens themselves money as taxpayers.”

– (Tim) there are multiple benefits for online document management systems — different things resonate with different stakeholders.
– (Kevin) if you look around at any specific business process, what’s the workflow that goes on, and where’s the opportunity for improvement.
– (Michael) need to look at how to significantly revamp the process based on new ideas and new technology

Question
Q. How do we get started with all of this?
– (Sandy) Green in the red herring … will be the emotional way of selling it, but will need a clear and obvious payback.
– (Jim) Choose a well-defined project or process … and look at ways of improving it. Get a win. Look at the case studies across industries, and get some ideas from those. Eg, Education case studies at Xythos.
– (Paul) What the sustainability angle? How much can you save over time?
– (Michael) “staple yourself to an invoice” and see where it goes … and think how to improve it. Also, buy Kevin’s book.
– (Kevin) I wrote Designing a Document Strategy (the book) to give specifics on how an organization can get started. The pressures, measures and constraints. Follow the 80-20 rule … bite off the high value things.

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