During the last 20 years, we have seen a fundamental shift from analog to digital content, allowing organizations to increase capabilities, efficiencies and turnaround times. However, this digital shift has not all been smooth sailing; it has demanded organizations to respond by changing technically, culturally, operationally, and in terms of improving skillsets and overall business strategies, or risk falling behind competitors.
Organizations need to ensure they are ready and willing to enable change from within, whether they decide to move toward digitizing processes or creating an efficient and automated digital operating model that can be accessed remotely by all customers, employees and geographical units.
As technology continues to grow and evolve at an accelerated pace, leading organizations understand that they need to be flexible, efficient, integrated and compliant while maintaining a superior service or product to be competitive. This evolution in technology also creates opportunities; for instance, the rise of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) has lowered barriers to entry for enterprises that are increasingly relying on digital processes and that have evolved their operating models accordingly to keep pace.
By focusing efforts on leveraging digital processes to establish a new operating model or evolve an existing operating model, organizations will be in a much stronger position to improve their business processes and achieve operational excellence in an agile, efficient manner. The outcome of such efforts has been proven to drive down costs (through efficient data storage and integrity), increase operational effectiveness (through the use of metadata allowing for increased search functionality) and increase compliance by streamlining and optimizing information workflows. This will in turn reduce processing times, and will assist organizations in navigating through their data silos and extracting meaningful insights for their business.
Technology advancements not only allow your organization to search for information, but classify and analyze it, and even make intelligent strategic decisions. However, finding such information is not always easy and employees waste a vast amount of time searching for information. An AIIM study shows more than 72 percent of employees say it is harder to find information owned by their organization than information not owned by them (i.e., on the web). With an increasing demand for companies to respond quickly or even in real time, it is vital for a business to analyze and act on the information they hold about a customer effectively and in a timely manner – at the right time and through the right medium.
Many industries, especially retail, have seen a dramatic shift in reducing delivery times and service response times in the face of consumer demands for faster turnaround and delivery. Insurance firms have found that for customers, issue resolution (customer service) is more important than price.
There are now many more ways in which organizations can “talk” to their customers, whether it is for sales, services or simply increasing brand awareness. Of the billions of mobile phone users worldwide, more than 2 billion are smartphones. There are more than 3 billion internet users worldwide, and households with internet TV are growing, vastly expanding the range of mediums through which consumers can be reached. Current trends suggest that consumer spend on IT per person may soon overtake corporate hardware spend.
It is not just consumers demanding organizational changes to keep up with their demands, but an organization’s own employees. With employees now requiring their own devices to be compatible with company systems, we have seen a shift away from IT dictating to employees and toward an approach where IT must enable and accommodate employees’ platform decisions. In turn, this has increased demand to access data easily, anywhere and in different formats. We have seen an increase in the number of people working around the clock and in more remote locations who still need to remain connected wherever they are. This increased mobility and need to operate flexibly is key to productivity and modern-day employee engagement.
Technology, however, can be a hindrance if not applied in an effective and efficient manner. For instance, with an increased reliance on technology comes an increase in the amount of time required to input data. For example, a CSO survey concluded that over 60 percent of the average salesperson’s time was spent on activities not related to sales, like Salesforce.com data input, research, account planning and so on. This suggests a pressing need to ensure that there is collaboration across systems and no duplication of work is created. Many organizations believe that they are already using efficient digital processes, having invested in data storage and shared drives. However, one AIIM study found, on average, employees are still spending over two hours a day simply looking for the right information.
Since 2006, “improving business processes” has been the number one business priority of CIOs surveyed by Gartner and has remained a top business priority. Businesses are pushing the boundaries of business process management – not simply standardizing processes to improve efficiency, reduce risk and reduce costs.
Organizations that can act on these opportunities can ensure that they are more agile, efficient, cost-effective, automated and collaborative. While remaining true to their brand, they can ensure quality and service to their customers, thus retaining their customers and can achieve competitive advantage, outperform peers and achieve greater shareholder value.
Industry leaders have not simply considered short-term strategies but have looked at the entire picture, focusing on longer-term strategies that produce sustainable benefits. Studies show that the most successful businesses take a long-term analytical view as to how to optimize the way in which their operations and functions interact across people, processes and technology. Organizations adopting such a view have historically tended to emerge from difficult times with a sustained market-leading position, and outperformed the competition in terms of revenue growth, cost reduction and total return on invested capital. According to a Gartner survey, organizations that use a BPM approach spend less of their IT budgets (55 percent) on running the business and “keeping the lights on,” compared with the industry average of 64 percent. These organizations spend a higher percentage of their IT budgets on “grow and transform” initiatives that can convey a competitive advantage.
Organizations that adapt to the future have always found a higher degree of success. As business intelligence and workflow evolve, organizations that make the most of both will find a promising future indeed.
This article originally appeared in the May 2017 issue of Workflow.