For many of us 2020 was a transformative year, both in our personal lives and professional lives. As the world turned upside down, many organizations quickly adapted to meet the needs of their staff, constituents, and customers virtually. For many, future technologies were no longer a roadmap wish list item or a dream, but a critical and immediate need. As the world starts to right itself, it’s crucial to continue preparation on digital solution efforts. Whether it be natural disasters, power outages, fires, floods or hurricanes, unseen situations aren’t going anywhere any time soon.
Glenn Gibson, Director of Global Technology Evangelist at Hyland Software takes us on a journey of digital transformation with his witty analogies and Scottish accent. With over 16 years of IT experience, Glenn shares how the journey through digital transformation should begin with the end in mind, including:
- Tips to start your transformation journey
- The importance of a complete process view to make quick decisions
- Key questions to fuel discussions in your organization
- Strategies to make the most of transformative changes
- Considerations when making radical or incremental improvements
- How to ensure survival in 2021 and into the future
Read the Transcript
Thank you for joining us today. My name is Kevin Kowalkowski, I’ll be your host for today’s podcast. And today I have the really exciting opportunity to sit down with Glenn Gibson. He is the Director of Global Technology Evangelist at Hyland Software and he’s going to discuss the journey of digital transformation. Something that I think he spent a lot of time studying and thinking about, and a lot of times in his career is so it’s a great opportunity to speak with somebody who’s really, really in this subject. I think that’s a term digital transformation that means maybe something different to different people in the business and the tech world.
Glenn’s been focusing on it before it was even really a thing. He’s going to share his 20-year expertise in the IT industry, including tips on starting digital transformation discussions in your organization, the reasons why your organization should consider some flavor of digital transformation and some strategies to consider and how to thrive in a post 2020 world. I don’t think it’s much of a
stretch to say that 2020 was transformative for a lot of people, I guess that’s one way to put it. Both in their personal lives, their professional lives, just really in all aspects of life.
And without further ado, I’d like to introduce today’s special guest Glenn Gibson. Thank you for joining us, Glenn.
Oh, thank you so much for having me. It’s a pleasure to be here, Kevin. Thank you.
Great, great. I’m just going to kind of get going right away. I’m not going to waste any time and just hit you with some questions. Can you give us a little bit of a background on yourself and your role at Hyland Software?
Yes, I would. I would love to. So, I have been at Hyland that will be 16 years this year. I could go, how far back do you want me to go? I was born at a very early age. I could start, I could start there. I, I won’t give you my whole life history.
Maybe not the whole history, but just maybe a little bit on the accent that would help.
Yeah. Perfect. All right. So, I was born and raised in Scotland, just say to Edinburgh and moved over to the States with my beautiful U.S. American wife in 2005 and joined Hyland shortly after moving across the pond. So, when I joined Hyland, I moved into a role, it was actually my dream job it was a tech technical instructor. I love doing public speaking, so it was a blend of public speaking and technology instruction. From there after six years in that role moved into our product marketing department, I built that function at Hyland. I spent about six years there as well. And for the last few years, I then moved over to our product organization, and I worked with our product executives around really the messaging and direction around our vision and where Hyland’s going. And I spend a lot of time talking about big, big topics that Hyland is addressing in the marketplace with, with what we’re doing. So that is a synopsis of what my journey has been up until this point.
My current role is, as you mentioned, Global Technology Evangelist for Hyland. So again, very similar. I’ll also like my initial role at Hyland, that dream role of being able to talk about, being able to talk first of all, and talk about technology.
Perfect. Yeah, that makes a ton of sense. You know, Hyland Software is a company that’s been, I guess, disruptive is one word transformative for a lot of their customers and organizations that use the software for a lot of years. And it sounds like you’ve worn a lot of hats at that company and really seen the maturation of an enterprise platform over the course of a long time now. That must be a rewarding experience and it really brings a lot of expertise to this particular topic we’re talking about.
Yeah, I have, I have indeed, you know, it’s been a wonderful journey to have been a part off and to have witnessed as well to see when Hyland joined. It was probably about well, there’s less than 300 employees when I Hyland joined. It was probably about well, there’s less than 300 employees when I joined and they’re now over 4,000 employees worldwide. Certainly, when I joined, it was very much, he kind of a Midwest company based in Ohio. And seeing that transformation for Hyland to become a global force and a recognized leader in the content services industry is just been absolutely phenomenal.
And I’ve witnessed every single acquisition that Hyland has made. And some of the most recent acquisitions have certainly been transformative in this industry and disruptive as well. And it’s, it’s very exciting to say the least.
It is exciting. It’s been exciting for us as a, as a partner of Hyland Software, just to see all these different opportunities open for us.
And, and just ways to help our customers that, you know, without Hyland Software, we wouldn’t have even been able to dream of them. So, it’s, it’s been a great pleasure for us as well.
Well, that’s lovely for you today, so for sure, I, likewise.
So, you know, the next thing I want to talk about a little bit was, you know, Hyland recently published a blog that you had penned, and it sort of alluded to this earlier, you’re a, you’re a burgeoning author, but. You know, this is a blog that you had put together if digital transformation is a journey is the quote “if digital transformation is a journey, what’s the destination (and are we there yet)?” In that blog post, you discussed how digital transformation was important prior to 2020, however, 2020 and really just the disruption had caused to all of our lives was the year that this idea really came into its own.
Can you tell me more about why and how this came about in 2020 and what you’re seeing going forward in this new world we’re living in?
to process automation, to case management to records management. There’s so much under that under those covers, all of that technology has always been relevant and important for organizations and, and oftentimes I’ve, I think as an Oscar season, I think it’s Oscar season.
I, I always kind of talked about the content services industry as being, if it was up for an Oscar, it would, it would receive best supporting role because oftentimes where IT leaders focused at attention is on some of these big platforms that they will buy to maybe their ERP platform or a platform to run their, you know, all of their HR records and, and processes are a big platform to run their, their sales processes.
You know, something like Salesforce, those often get head lanes within organizations and come with an expectation that these are multi multimillion dollar projects. Upon that, so that those types of systems would often get kind of the lead actor, actor Oscar, if we’re going to stick with that analogy. However, people quickly realize that once these, these investments have been made, there is so much supporting unstructured content and other processes, decisions, data types, transactions that aren’t part of that core system. And then kind of realize we need an enterprise class solution to, to be able to manage all this other stuff that is going to work in concert with these big, big, big, big technology. So, this is, this has been like the pervasive kind of story leading up to 2020, throughout 2020, obviously as the world just turned upside down. I would say that the concept of digital transformation and the concept of being able to figure out what to do with all the other stuff I mentioned really became front and center. Because we had so many customers in Hyland included and I’m sure yourselves and the listeners will be included in this too.
Suddenly people who used to work across the cubicle from each other or who, you know, all worked in the same building or in the same campus. We’re all of suddenly displaced and having to work from home. Hyland had to go through that overnight, almost as, and so did many of our customers, and what that did is it accentuated where some of the gaps in information strategy really were because suddenly people needed new ways of digitally interacting with each other and customers. They the use of digitally interacting with the companies that they relied on, and it really shined a spotlight on where are the gaps in our information kind of infrastructure and landscape. And that’s where we, it turned from being a, an important strategy into a critical set of projects that had to be done and had to be done quickly in order to get people up and running and get them access to the information that they need and, and to be able to keep up and running. So that was a kind of a big, long journey I took you on there, but again, lends to what happened in 2020.
Yeah. I feel like 2020 was a natural progression of the concept of digital transformation. It’s, that’s a term I’ve been hearing for years and it’s, it’s always been about creating a better, you know, for our customers. It’s been about creating a better customer experience for their customers or a better employee experience, to sort of fill those gaps in and really give their customers and their employees, everything they need at their fingertips to do the job properly. And those core systems that you had mentioned, you know, I always did a fair job of managing most of it, but there’s all this other stuff that goes into interacting with a company you’re interacting with your information, your account or whatever it is. And this digital transformation journey when we were all disconnected in 2020. Yeah. I feel like it changed the game, and it accelerated the need for us to do more and to use a product like Hyland that that really is nimble and able to fill some of those gaps that those other systems can’t do.
I think I just took you on just as long a journey and probably more scattered journey, but it proves that point.
That you’re absolutely right. And I can use a couple of real-world examples to underscore it. So, let’s say a health care organization just to illustrate, always liked the idea of, of telehealth and being able to interact with patients remotely.
Well, suddenly they had to put in place solutions to interact with patients remotely. It was a matter of being able to help the patients are not, and they need to plug that technology gap. And, you know, that’s part of Hyland solutions as well. And that’s where we could see some of those. That’s a good way to illustrate where it suddenly became,
So that was just one example. Other examples in the banking industry, we had banks who had grown up, you know, within the brick and mortar walls off of their branches. And then suddenly overnight, their entire workforce was no longer able to be in the branches and the customers were not able to go in the branches either.
So again, those organizations that might have been looking to invest in mobile apps or pursue some better digital experiences for the future. Suddenly it wasn’t a matter of, you know, this would be a nice to have anymore, this became, we have got to do this, and we have to do this next week. And how are we going to accomplish it?
One of my favorite stories just to get a wrap up, there was an, an HR company. It was it was an unemployment benefits company that worked down in, in in the south, in the
states and right around COVID it was like this crazy, crazy story. Right, right around COVID their premises was hit by a tornado. So, their physical location was, was damaged and all of their employees then had to go find other places to go work. So, they had to deal with that at the same time as COVID kind of take over the world? And their workload went from, from processing 3000 unemployment claims a day to 30,000 unemployment claims a day, which was which was like this like 10 X increase. So again, you can, you cannot survive situations like that without looking at
digital solutions. And of course, that was a story with Hyland with, with a partner, being able to really quickly put in place some tools and processes to help them survive all of that. We came to the same number of staff too, which is really interesting. So, tons of stories like that in America over 2020.
That’s an amazing story to hear something in so many things went against them and yet they used innovation to weather the storm, so to speak and really improve their processes going forward.
When we hopefully all presumably go back to normal in the near future. So, it, you know, it’s one of those things where, you know, a lot of different organizations are probably looking at digital transformation efforts in some, they may not call it that, but in some way in the very near the future. And I like to borrow a concept from Franklin Covey, and I like to always think of the phrase begin with the end in mind. That’s my kid just recently. Well, I guess it wasn’t that recently as in high school now, but at the time in, in, in grade school in elementary, one of the things that they Franklin Covey and that was one of the things he brought out of it that I always liked that was begin with the end in mind.
For organizations that are looking to take on some transformative projects here in the near future where would you suggest they start? How would you suggest they start planning it, start looking at it? You know, how would you attack that problem?
This is, this is one of my favorite questions to answer. So, there’s a phrase that I like to use when people ask that question, you know, off of me is working at Hyland, “What does Hyland do?” And you know, “What is this content services thing all about?” And I like to take a different approach than just talking about the technology and the concept is quite simple.
It is the concept that I like to call a complete view. The question I like to ask people to think about, and this is the end in mind is if
you think about a very critical person or role or team within your organization and ask yourself the question, do they have a complete view of all the information that they need in order to get their jobs done?
That is a great place to start because the goal of this whole content services industry is to provide the people insight and the people outside the organization with a complete view of the right information that they need at that exact point in time that they can get access to wherever they are. So, a concept like that sounds simple, but when you ask the question of perhaps, and we can go into the accounting department and ask for an accounting clerk, who’s, you know managing an invoice process.
And you start to look at how many different places to, they need to go to look for the information that, that surrounds an invoice in order to make the right decision. Or to investigate, you know, some, some, some other piece in there is if you, if you take that line, you quickly find opportunities for improvement because the reality is that for almost everybody who works anywhere on the platform, the information that you need to do that you need in order to make a decision or to do, to, to accomplish a task is often spread across multiple systems and repositories and email inboxes, and perhaps even sticky notes from someone’s desk, et cetera.
So, this idea of taking asking a question, “Did they have a complete view of what they need to make that decision as quickly as possible?” Start there and then wind back
into where, where they opportunities are to, to make that a reality.
Yeah, that makes a ton of sense. I mean, I like to get specific. I, you know, you touched on, invoice processing, in finance there, you know. Let’s, let’s take that example for a moment, what strategies or what solutions, products, whatever do you think make the most transformative change or the, or I get to, I guess, give you the most bang for your buck? Just at a high level.
Yeah, I think, I think the answer to that can vary depending on what we discover is underneath the covers, because it might be as simple as you know what you watch a person working and they’re working in perhaps their ERP system, but then they also switched over to their email. And then they’re also switching over to, you know, some cloud-based share somewhere to go rake around for documents.
And if we can take that and aggregate this together, perhaps through some integrations and give them a single pane of glass to look through where all the information has been aggregated for them and speed up their ability to work. That could be a great win right there as well. So, so when we take a single scenario and look through that lens, that’s great.
And then you could do the same thing, if you think about, you know, someone who’s working, with a customer and, and dealing with a customer complaint. How easy is it for that person to get access to all the associated information about that customer and about the orders that they’ve made or whatever that may be and be able to bring it together?
So when, when we, when we, again, start with the end in mind, figure out really going to, why are they not able to do this as quickly as the, these should be able to do it, then that’s a great, a great place to look.
So now that we’ve got, I guess, sort of the end in mind, planned out, they’ve got a strategy in place, you know, what do you think about who’s involved in formulating those questions?
Who’s involved in formulating the plan to get there? You’ve got your plan in place, how do you set off on that journey?
So, this, that, again, that is a very, very good question. And it comes to kind of who is who, who is most keenly aware of the problem?
Sometimes that is the leader off a single department. And sometimes it’s the, the IT strategy kind of thinkers, perhaps, a chief digital officer, or a chief information officer who can look holistically across the organization. So, so the answer there is, is kind of it depends, but I like, I like to propose a series of health checks that organizations can ask themselves to see if there is room for improvement.
So, should I share some of these like pervasive questions that could be posed to, an organization?
Yeah. Give me a few of them.
Okay, great. So here here’s one of them and this is, I’m just going to start super basic. Right. But here’s one is, do you still have paper-based processes is a question. And if you do, then you obviously recognized, especially after 2020, that not only are paper-based processes slow and costly, but there’s also a health risk associated with them.
So that’s one question. Another question is, do you still have people performing manual data entry? And I like to say it’s 2021 and the technology exists today where people do not need to be doing data entry anymore. It’s great to have people rather than manually keying our double entering information into multiple systems, to be able to utilize technology, to be able to classify and index
the content out there. And there are such a spectrum of capabilities to address that one challenge that go from very straightforward and inexpensive to employ. So even to just reduce the number of fields, someone would key in all the way through to, you know, AI driven capture, where we’re feeding documents into, you know, scanners or putting them through engines that can do some automated classification. So that’s another question I like to ask people I’ll pause there.
But those, those often indicate two specific areas that are kind of low-hanging fruit to go in and go after at an organizational level.
And data entry, that’s always been a pet peeve of mine. double keying into multiple systems. And that technology is going out there to solve that in a number of different ways for some, you know, depending on the particular process technology’s been out there for that for years now, they told us.
Yeah, totally has it. Totally, it has. So, here’s another question. So, I’ll ask a few more of these questions. Another one is, are you aware of critical business information being held hostage is probably too strong of a word but being kind of held within people’s email inboxes in individual file servers in spreadsheets or in documents.
Do you have, you know, old access databases are massive Excel spreadsheets that contain critical customer information? And every day you wake up thinking to yourself, I hope this is not the day that that file gets corrupted. Because that’s a symptom then, you know, we have very straightforward tools to quickly build apps, to be able to manage relational data like that.
Which again, once that’s part of the overall information systems is the only peace of mind, but also gets people working a lot more efficiently.
It does. And it’s not only, you know, you use the term held hostage and that’s certainly rather appropriate, but it’s also a matter of, it could be a liability. If you’ve got something sitting in somebody’s email inbox, and it’s sensitive information that can easily be forwarded to the grandmother by mistake, and then oops, it’s out of the system and you have no control over it at that.
Yeah, that’s right. And here’s another, here’s another one related to that thing at the organizational level. If we are aware, we can ask the question, our employee, how are employees sharing information with people outside the organization? And is that information sensitive or is it okay to share? Because what we see is many times, if we don’t equip employees with enterprise class secure tools that are simple and straightforward to utilize, they will use their default tools, or default behavior, or find a work around.
So oftentimes we see people emailing files, which contain sensitive information because that’s their only tool that they have to really get to send information to someone. And we know that as soon as I file is emailed, we’ve lost control over it. There’s no tracking. We can understand who can get their hands on it from there.
So, email is one we all, we all often we’ll see two employees, if they’re not equipped with the enterprise class, can it close sharing collaboration tool employees going and signing up to your personal, you know, boxing cloud apps and then sharing company information through their personal account, because they just need a way to share perhaps larger, large files.
And it is better than email box, you know, then that employee leaves and still has access to all of that sensitive data. So, so how employees are sharing files outside is another great question to ask, to see if there’s room for improvement.
So that’s, that’s a great segue into my next question I have here. So, let’s say an organization is got some outdated processes, they’ve got some things that are not conducive to the, I’ll say the 2020 way of doing business. And, and that goes across the board, but they’ve identified that one scenario is being at least from a security standpoint where people are signing up and putting stuff on random cloud services.
They’ve identified that as being very, very insecure in a major problem for the here and now. I guess the question is, should they look to making incremental improvements over time? Or should they step back and kind of reset themselves and take a look at a complete radical transformative change? I guess maybe it’s a, it’s a matter of opinion, but what are your thoughts on that?
So that is a great, that is a great question. And I think the, the easiest thing to do is to just look at incremental improvements. And the most formidable thing to do is to look at radical and transformational change. But when you look at the pace of how things changed over 2020, I think people would realize that they were forced into a corner where radical and transformational change came upon them, and they had to react.
And maybe there were quick decisions that were made for 2020 to just stay in business, but never come through the other end. I really think there’s an opportunity to take a step back and lean in more towards how do we radically address our information landscape and our information infrastructure?
And that’s, I know that it’s very easy to say, much easier to say than actually do. But the reality is the tool, there is so many great tools and technologies out there today that can really be a game changer for organizations when it comes to integrating their systems, reducing information silos, keeping their, their IT application landscape to a manageable size. So, that they’re so that they’re able to really focus on, on what they do best rather than juggling, you know, multiple apps and contracts with, with various vendors. The tools are out there today and if, if we don’t take a view of radical change, it just kind of the whole infrastructure of information silos, different applications, running different parts of the business that just goes on this kind of very slow creep, all kind of in the wrong, in the wrong direction and, and many cases where we’re kind of continually perpetuating the information problem with, with more and more information silos popping up all over the place. So the word I like to use as, as holistic, and sometimes it takes, you know, working with, with dedicated leadership at the top of an organization to take a step back, look across the application landscape, the information silos that are there, the different repositories that are there and, and really kind of get a, grasp a grasp on what the organization has to do and where can they make significant investments that are shared benefit across the organization to address some of these. So, I think that I think we were forced into radical change in 2020.
I think they opportunity now that things are kind of a little bit of breathing room happening to be able to embrace what happened and then say, okay, what did we really need to do now that we’ve got time to think, to really do this right to set ourselves up for success?
Yeah, that’s a good point. I think there’s a time and a place for incremental change, but if, and I’ll use a metaphor, if you’re in a boat and you’re taking on water and you’re, you’re, you’re getting rid of a bucket of water an hour, but you’re taking on 10. You’re not really helping yourself.
That’s right. That’s right.
So, in order to, to move forward, that transformative change that we’re talking about, what are, some technologies in the here and now that are making the biggest impact that you see out there? I guess what are the technologies that are, that are really driving and taking an organization from one place and moving them to a completely different place, both in the eyes of their customers, in the eyes of their employees, and really giving them a competitive edge within their, within their own, own businesses?
Oh, there are so there’s so there’s, there’s so many. So, I’m going to reel off a list of kind of different technologies that can be super transformative by themselves, but then going to take a step back and get a, see what I really want to see.
So robotic process automation is a, has getting a lot of attention and that is a great tool that can help to take some of the, the manual kind of tasks off the hands of people
and have these bots going off and, you know, speeding up work. That’s kind of an exciting technology. Intelligent driven document captured in classification, when, when up and running is a total game changer, we talked before about eliminating the need for manual data entry. We can have a few people that artistry that process and, and really speed up the ingestion of content.
That’s kind of exciting. The, the idea of investing in a platform to, to standardize application development on with the goal of eliminating you know, single purpose cloud-based apps that can perpetuate their information silo problem. That’s a, a fantastic investment to make there’s tools like local development platforms, rapid application development.
That that’s really exciting. I’ve just really gone to technology terms, as I said, I was going to do there’s another one that organizations have people manually, generating customer correspondence, kind of one at a time, or doing kind of big mail merges. There is sophisticated technology there that can handle tens hundreds of thousands of documents orchestrating, composing that customer communication.
We call it customer communication management technologies can, can, can address all that. So, my point of saying that what I really want to see is all of those things and exciting, and there’s more, but if you go kind of chasing technology for technology’s sake is overwhelming. And you don’t even know where to start because there, you know, all of it accomplishes our purpose and is great.
So taking a step back though, and coming back into this realm off, you know, looking at the people, looking at what they’re doing and are whether that’s an employee or a customer and looking to see how can we improve their experience in order to be able to, you know, provide a better level of service to the customer or for the customer to have a much better digital experience with us.
If that’s where we start, we can identify the problems and then work with a company like yourselves, ImageSoft, who are experts in this field. That’s what you do for a living. And you’re able to kind of see the problem and then match the technology that is appropriate to be able to kind of address the pain point.
That would be the way to do it rather than just going to vendor with random technology.
Sure. No, that makes perfect sense. I mean, obviously start with the pain points and apply not only technologies, but strategies around addressing those pain points as you go.
One last question here, I think our time’s almost up. Just sort of setting our sights on the future here. How, how can organizations ensure that they not only survive the coming year and whatever changes that are going to come in 2021? I mean, 2020 was transformative enough. And now we’re just kind of still holding on for the ride here in 2021.
How are we going to, how are organizations going to not only survive the coming year, but thrive in the ever-changing future landscape of business and tech?
Well, you know, I would say for, for those organizations that manage to survive 2020 and are still here and, and, you know, I’m moving in the right direction, then congratulations, you’re doing something right.
And keep doing, keep doing those things, right. I definitely think coming in throughout 2021, there is, there’s such an opportunity to, to recognize that the idea of being delivering exceptional digital experiences to our employees and to the people that we serve is no longer an option and it shouldn’t be on the roadmap.
It should be something that we’re actively working on right now. And if we can kind of focus on that for our customers, our constituents, our students, our vendors, our agents, whoever that may be, that will, that will, that’s how we’ll really set ourselves up for success in 2021and beyond.
I think that’s the key going forward. And you said it right, the digital experience. The overall way of interacting with interacting with a customer, interacting with a vendor, whatever it is, the way you interact with them, that’s the way to do it.
Indeed, it is.
I think that’s a great way to wrap it up right there. Thank you, Glenn, for being our guest today. I’ve enjoyed the conversation; I hope you have as well.
I certainly have I thank you so much for having me. I enjoyed the chat for sure.
I hope everybody out there got some ideas that they can put to work right away in their organizations that they can, put to work, to survive 2021. For our listeners, if you’d like to learn a little bit more about ImageSoft, please visit our website at www.imagesoftinc.com.
And this concludes our podcast. Thank you so much and have a great day.