SSON Network article - How do you optimise business information?


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Swiss Post Solutions (SPS) explains how partnering with Kofax helps leverage its document services platform.

SPS is a leader in providing solutions for demanding clients in the areas of document processing services, strategic document outsourcing and customer management business process outsourcing. As part of the Swiss Post Group and headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland, SPS employs more than 6,400 people serving corporate customers in 15 countries.

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SSON Network article - How do you optimise business information?

  1. 1. Article link: do you optimise business information?Swiss Post Solutions explains how partnering with Kofax helps leverage its document services platformBy: SSON interview with Keith Holdt (on left), Head of Global Business Development, and Charles Parrington-Tyler (on right), Head of Digital Transformation, Swiss Post Solutions Ltd.Posted: 20 March 2012 on“When it comes to business information, “end-to-end” means taking into account the almost conversational wayin which information flows around a business, and optimising it around that information flow – rather thanspecifically around a particular process.”[Learn about “capture-driven processes”]Barbara Hodge: Keith and Charles, could I start by asking you to describe Swiss Post Solution’sbusiness?KH: Swiss Post itself is made up of about seven different business divisions, of which Swiss Post Solutions,which we represent, is one. Others include Post Finance; Post Mail, the retail mail arm of Swiss Post; PostLogistics; Post Auto; Post Bus, Post Offices & Sales; and Swiss Post International, which is an international mailand parcel business.From a Swiss Post Solutions perspective, we provide a range of information management services, both on theinbound side, as well as the output side, and document processing really forms part of the inbound side of theequation. Within that, we provide anything from the physical mailroom outsourcing services — our traditionallegacy business — right through to document processing, records management, business process outsourcingservices, and office based services like switchboard, reception, and so on. We also provide e-billing services anda range of loyalty solutions.CPT: We market those services Keith mentioned independently, but a great number of our customersincreasingly integrate them, so we can stitch them together to provide a particular bespoke process solution foran individual customer requirement.Give me an idea of what kind of customers you are providing these services to.KH: A large number of our customers are, for example, financial services institutions. One of our largestcustomers is Zurich Financial Services, for which we provide a range of services including mailroom outsourcingand document processing; capture and imaging services etc. We also offer BPO services such as LoyaltyManagement, eCommerce, Billing and Payment Solutions. For example, in France, we provide services to AirFrance, where we do claims management. 1
  2. 2. Article link: The main market varies by country and territory, since we’re active all the way from the US to the Far East.Financial services is a key market space, and certainly one that we see in most of our territories, and that coversinsurance, banking, and investment services; but we also operate within the retail, media, airlines, transport, legal,and other sectors.So your services proposition, I presume, is based on this digitalisation. How is digitalisation representedwithin the strategy that you offer a customer?CPT: The key element of digitisation is really twofold. The first is to ensure that the information that’s containedwithin physical documents can be extracted and understood, and secondly delivered to the appropriate user. Sowe use digitisation to extract information from documents, using automated means where possible; but then wealso use that information to distribute those documents to the right place within the organisation.Both of those things, clearly, are done better when we can get at the content of the physical document, turn it intosomething that can be processed, and then use that more efficiently than we could given a manual, paper-basedprocess.On the customer side, do you come across any resistance to this digitisation?CPT: We come across very little resistance from the customer side. The issues are more to do with theimplementation of individual projects within organisations. I don’t think anyone these days is particularly worriedabout working with electronic documents, versus working with paper, although I guess it could be different forcertain industries; but fundamentally, people are quite happy to adopt electronic work, since it delivers a numberof freedoms for them — in terms of how they process work and where they process work.What about the security risks? How do you counter customer concerns on that side?CPT: Yes, security is an interesting one. Clearly when anything becomes electronic, there is a great deal ofconcern about security and making sure it’s not available to, or seen by, the wrong people. And whilst security iscritical to being able to maintain the services commercially, I think it’s important, especially where we’re looking atthe digitisation of paper, to put the risks into perspective.In many instances, we’ve found that there were far greater risks in terms of the physical paper, because therewas no audit trail. Nobody could tell who looked at documentation, where the documentation had been, how longthat documentation had been sitting in a location and how long it had taken to process.Clearly, digitisation has a number of benefits when it comes to security and audit-ability; but yes, of course,security is always a primary concern, and it’s something that has to be born in mind with every implementation.To illustrate that point, Swiss Post Solutions has systematically rolled out ISO27001 across its business as part ofits approach data securityKH: I also don’t think that it’s so much an inhibitor to people anymore. Particularly if you look at how electronicpeople’s everyday conversations are becoming through the likes of social media and so on, there is anacceptance of this being the way to go; and when it comes to security, there is a recognition that it needs to betaken into account, but not that it would be a reason not to move forward with the project.How has the increased interest in end-to-end process management impacted your business? In otherwords: How might you take on more of the entire process at the client end?CPT: “End-to-end” is quite an interesting piece. I try to look at an organisation rather like a set of onionskins,because end-to-end is contextual. It really depends on what part of the process we’re looking at, as to how far weneed the end-to-end process to go. 2
  3. 3. Article link:, for us, end-to-end can mean anything from the simple capture and ingestion of documentation into anorganisation, all the way through to a process being carried out, a decision being made, and information passedon to clients and recorded in systems. So end-to-end varies, depending on the scope of the work.End-to-end at a departmental level can be the same process, but run within a limited number of users. End-to-end also can be from one end of the organisation to the other, and clearly the output services we have allow us toconnect those two ends together, to form a bridge between our customer and their end-customers.KH: The other thing I’d like to add is that, if you consider our business as being all about informationmanagement, and then consider how information typically flows through an organisation … the traditional way tolook at that is from a very process-orientated standpoint, which is sequential, with one thing flowing to the nextthing, and so on.In reality, information doesn’t flow like that at all. It flows backwards and forwards, and in and out and thensometimes repeats itself, in terms of how it travels through an organisation.So when we have the conversation about end-to-end, increasingly we’re considering: how do we take account ofthis almost conversational way in which information flows around the business, and help to make it more optimal— optimise it around that information flow, rather than specifically around a particular process.At the same time, one can, I think, break down how the cycle occurs, and if one starts at the physical end, andsays, well, information flows into a business, either as physical paper or in electronic form, then the first steplogically, is to capture that information in some form or fashion — whether it’s electronic or physical — beforeworking out how best to put it into the business so that the business can make maximum use of that information.The end-to-end conversation, just to support what Charles was saying, is becoming a more interesting one, asbusinesses evolve, and as the way people communicate and share information evolves as well.CPT: I think one of the key things, in terms of where do we add value to that part, is, as Keith outlined, that it’snot just about looking at the physical documents that come into an organisation; it’s looking at the businesstransactions that come into the organisation.So we see our services, in line with our clients, moving from purely paper-based to a hybrid mixture. Clearly weare all aspiring to a point where there’s limited or no paper left in the business process and we can combine thataspiration with additional services.Those additional services can be anything from, as I said, distributing that information around the organisation, totaking on additional business tasks — for example taking decisions on that data, or analysing that data to providetrend information to the business process, and then onwards to the end-user.If I could follow that thought for a moment, Charles, to what extent do you find that your customers’resistance to new ideas is slowing you down?CPT: That’s a very good point, and I think to put it into perspective, one of our challenges is to make thoseinnovations and ideas stand out enough to put them on top of our customer’s project list.Clearly, many of our customers are very keen on innovation, very keen to look for opportunities to improve; butthere’s a huge number of competing demands within any business — for capital, for resources, … so, I think it’sour challenge not just to point these things out to customers, but to work with them and help them sell theconcept to the business, so it becomes a project that the whole business wants to deliver on, and therefore isseen as something that the company can invest their resources in.One of the challenges we frequently come up against is that customers are keen to be able to do things, butthey’re constrained by resources, or constrained by other commitments that the business has at that point in time. 3
  4. 4. Article link: are very few customers that wouldn’t turn down the opportunity to implement new services, and a lot of ourcustomers are pushing us for that very capability.One thing I want to ask you about is the notion of “outcome based solutions.” I am hearing this morefrequently from providers I speak with. How do outcome-based contracts give the client a greater senseof certainty, with regards to your services?KT: I think the way it changes the way we engage with the client is that we begin by asking: What’s the ultimateoutcome that the client is actually looking for? So if you think through the whole process, it’s not actually thedigitisation of documents that they’re looking for. Rather, if it’s a claims process, or an invoice process, then it’s acompleted claim or a paid invoice that they actually want. They want the money in the bank, at the end of the day.If we start from that point and work backwards, then we can actually work out more effectively what we can do onour side to provide them with a solution that speeds up the lead time to getting that invoice paid. From acustomer’s perspective, that’s enormously helpful in terms of getting them what they’re looking for.CPT: I’ll just add a point to the conversation about innovation and customers limiting the opportunities forinnovation. The outcome-based value or pricing is a good point, because one of the key barriers we encounter,when it comes to delivering new ideas and projects, is the customer’s desire to keep a controlling hand in theprocess.Now, whilst it is, obviously, very important for the customer to have a sense of ownership, and feel connected tothe processes, it makes it very difficult to implement changes if we are being constrained by how the customersperceive a particular job should be done.Making the business case focus on the outcome of the job — i.e., what’s needed at the end of it — rather thanhow the job should be done, allows more freedom to focus the services around what the business needs, ratherthan how that process might have operated in the past.You are operating in an extremely competitive niche, and to provide the best solutions to your clients, Iimagine that you lean heavily on partnerships. How does Kofax support your business?KH: Kofax provide key elements to our document services platform, which is a platform that we put in place forour customers, as part of our managed services, and that supports us delivering services to our customers. Sofrom the very beginning, the capture side, and increasingly through to processing and then imaging, has beenwhere we traditionally partnered with Kofax.Moving forward, we’re developing a closer working relationship with them, where we work together to understandthe market more effectively, and how we can best provide solutions and services to end-customers, that makesense.CPT: One of the areas that we’re very interested in, again focussing on that outcome-based approach, is to lookat document services as people would look at buying a book on Amazon. That is, looking at a service that’savailable, a service in the cloud, if you wish, and a capability, rather than looking at individual products andservices. That “joining together” of things, and forming a capability or a service that’s available whenever acustomer requires it, is a key part of what we look for, in terms of the relationship moving forward.How do the teams work together? For example, if you perceive an opportunity to add on to a particular project,how might Kofax’s team work with yours to develop a solution?CPT: From a working together perspective, the key issue here is early communication, and the ability to shareinformation about the problem, and how it might be solved. We communicate with their development team toexplore what’s available today, what will be available tomorrow, and basically, how can we work with that to 4
  5. 5. Article link: better solutions to our customers. So that agility, that responsiveness, with a good dose of communicationis pretty key to be able to work together effectively to solve problems.So Swiss Post Solutions, is very much leading the charge in terms of digitisation for your customers; buthow has what you’ve done been implemented within Swiss Post Group, itself?KH: I think that’s a good question. One of the things that we’ve done recently, as a Group, is to establish what wecall the eProduct House. The SPS business has the specific task to look at how it can take some of theinnovations and some of the solutions that we’ve developed within SPS, into the rest of Swiss Post.If you look at where Swiss Post is ranked globally against other postal organisations, then it is highly regarded forhow it has adapted, and how it has made increasing use of technology such as digitisation to deliver services.Another example of one of the services is secure email — where individuals can send confidential emailssecurely by accountable electronic mail. There are also services like Swiss Post Box, which is now on offer withinSwitzerland and is being taken to postal organisations elsewhere, where you can have your personal maildigitised, and forwarded as an electronic document to your mailbox. Those are just some examples.We recently posted an interview with the CIO of Procter and Gamble , who describes exactly this: howdigitisation is changing P&G’s entire business model. Can you imagine, going forward, five, ten, perhaps15 years, what the future will look like, given all the changes that are being implemented at the moment?CPT: I think what we’ll see over the next five to ten years is a significant uptake in the use of technologies thatare now available, not just as they are today in terms of process-centric activities, but being able to free uporganisations to behave and deploy themselves very differently.For instance, at the moment, we traditionally all work in nice offices, we share documents, and we shareinformation. Five to ten years from now, the model may be that our office does not exist as a physical building,but we could be working in small clusters that are convenient to us; meaning that we don’t have to travel to anoffice, but can work freely where we need to, and when we need to.That vision, I think, has been around for a great deal of time, but we’re probably now getting to the point whereconsumer use of technology makes this environment, that future, a real possibility. I think the paperless world willbecome a reality.And as people are increasingly streaming digital data onto their various mobile devices, this trend is justgoing to speed up, isn’t it?KH: I think that’s a critical point. One of the things that we’ve been looking at recently is how social media islinked with the mobile devices that are out there, and how the increasing digitisation of information is having animpact.I think businesses are really starting to work out how this impacts them, so what you’re seeing is that the public atlarge is using these things and they’re bringing that into work, as well. And they are increasingly, I think, going toexpect their businesses to operate in the same way.I forget the exact numbers, but I recently read a case study of a legal firm that decided to adopt this way ofworking — a more conversational way of doing business internally — and achieved significant efficiencies as aresult. And when I earlier alluded to not viewing an organisation in terms of its processes, but in terms of how ituses and shares information, this is exactly what I was talking about.CPT: Many processes used to be constrained to an office, or a PC. But now we’re in a position where we can getaccess to things through a telephone, a simple tablet, or some other mobile device. Suddenly, the need to beconnected to a corporate network is less important. 5
  6. 6. Article link: now processes don’t require those underlying documents anymore, but are going to rely more on electronictransactions. This really opens up opportunities, rather than focusing on the “old” processes.A final question I’d like to ask you both deals with verticalisation, which is something we hear a lot about,at the moment. Many providers are now specialising in vertical industry processes. To what extent areyou finding that you are streamlining your services to match specific industry’s needs?CPT: I guess what we’re seeing is not the need to have different products, in terms of individual componentswithin that space, but really going back to a point we discussed earlier: how do we actually take a number ofdisparate services and pull them together into a portfolio that solves the business problem?Increasingly, as you move up the process chain, that business problem is more and more focused on the industry,and less and less on a horizontal service. So certainly, that lays the groundwork to specialise in processes thatare more focussed around a given vertical, as you described.Keith and Charles, thank you so much for your time. It’s been great to speak with you.To learn more about “capture-driven processes” check out our Kofax-sponsored series.About Keith HoldtKeith is Head of Global Sales at Swiss Post Solutions (SPS), a Swiss Post company. He has over 20 years’experience working in a variety of management consultancy and business development roles, including a verysuccessful 8-year stint in IBM. He is known as a creative visionary and for his expertise in developing andexecuting business models and ensuring that business growth and delivery strategies support corporateobjectives.He established and is currently globally responsible for strategic business development & sales at SPS, and withhis international team works with global organisations to transform the way they access and use corporateinformation. Keith previously led SPS to their largest ever contract – a highly complex, pan-European, multi-yearDTO (document transformation outsourcing) project for a global insurance organisation. He has also beeninstrumental in establishing a number of highly successful sales & marketing teams, both at a country and globallevel.Keith is a regular speaker and media commentator on the impact of developments in information management,analytics and document processing towards improved corporate decision-making. He speaks on trends in theseareas, and how global organisations can exploit the value of corporate information/business intelligence to deliversuccess. He has an excellent knowledge of the document and information management market, and has writtenand spoken on the changing role of document processing and data management in business, including thegrowing impact of social media on the workplace.Keith has lived in the United Kingdom having grown up in South Africa. He is a graduate of the University ofPretoria, South Africa, where he received both a B Eng and M Eng in Industrial Engineering. He is also analumnus of the London Business School where he has completed a programme in Corporate Finance.Outside of work Keith has a passion for adventure, travel and outdoor activities such as skiing and hiking and in2011 climbed Mt Kilimanjaro as part of a fund-raising effort for a number of UK charities.About Charles Parrington-TylerCharles Parrington-Tyler is Head of Digital Transformation at Swiss Post Solutions. Since starting his career withUnisys back in the early 1980s, Charles has worked in a variety of roles in technology solutions, sales, and clientmanagement disciplines. His 17 years of experience in document management covers everything from defining 6
  7. 7. Article link:, developing solutions, selling the concept, setting up new projects, managing delivery programmes aswell as driving several internal and customer change programmes.Focused on delivering business outcomes, Charles understands the importance of building teams with a clearfocus, understanding the different drivers and needs of all stakeholders, and has the passion and drive to deliversuccessful commercial engagements. It is these skills and experience that Charles uses in his role as Head ofDigital Transformation, working with customers and internal business units to drive and exploit the opportunitiesthat today’s digital technologies bring to business.As Zurich Client Director, he is working with SPS business units and Zurich to develop and integrate input andoutput services and drive the delivery of cross border solutions in digital mailrooms, document processing andrelated services across Europe. 7