After two years of deep uncertainty amidst the pandemic, we are finally positioned to make sense of the nature of its impact on various aspects of a business. However, as we do that, this is not a pit stop. Enterprises cannot afford to take a deep breath, as recessionary sentiments and “the great resignation” continue to pose challenges for them.
The pandemic has taught business leaders the true nature of uncertainty – that being unprepared can be more detrimental than earlier thought. So, going forward, one underlying theme prominently weaves into transformational plans, and that is: to build a solid foundation that offers flexibility while tapping the opportunities presented by cutting-edge technologies.
Moreover, of the many things enterprises hoped to be transitional or temporary during the pandemic, some have conclusively turned out to be permanent – the remote/distributed work, the customer shift towards digital channels, for instance. And some of these permanent changes are pivotal to digital transformation strategies in the future.
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Accordingly, here are the five digital transformation trends that enterprises must consider.
1. The Time for Digital Acceleration
For most enterprises, digital, per se, is not new. The definitions and tools keep morphing, but efforts to transform are ongoing for many. Similarly, the broad priorities are also not expected to vary by much. Customer experience (CX), operational excellence (OX), and business innovation have been and will continue to be among business priorities in varying orders.
However, enterprises realize that it is not an either-or scenario anymore. To achieve transformation, they need to find a way to treat these priorities as a triquetra, wherein one feeds the other, and so on. This multi-pronged approach is expected to take precedence over purely CX-driven or OX-driven transformational efforts. Similarly, the front-end v/s backend divide in terms of investments will also give way to a holistic platform-based approach that can facilitate accelerated digital efforts with a better balance of speed and technology adoption.
See also: The Hidden Values of Digital Transformation: Innovation and Adaptability
2. The Rise of Employee Experience
The rapid shift in workplace dynamics has brought the employee experience (EX) to the fore. As work moved from physical workplaces to distributed or remote work environments, many processes broke due to the dependency on the physical nature of collaboration as well as information exchange. In many cases, it hurt the customer experience. However, in many more, it caused a complete disruption of service. Consequently, the criticality of employees’ role in the end-to-end customer journey became clearer for enterprises. “The great resignation” also provided the much-talked-about shake-up in the way enterprises looked at their role in the quality of life for their employees.
As a result, EX is becoming a key priority for enterprises, so much so that when we speak of CX today, “the customer” now includes employees and partners as an extension almost automatically. It is truer than ever, and a great CX starts with an equally great EX. Hence, enterprises are looking at ways to ensure that their employees have the right information at the right time at the place/through the channel of their preference.
This focus on EX, coupled with OX, will drive conscious efforts in automation driven by process automation, artificial intelligence (AI), content services, and omnichannel engagement.
See also: Technology Management is the Foundation for Successful Digital Transformation
3. The Leverage of End-to-end Automation
In the past, we have witnessed even the ambitious transformational programs being focused on certain technological areas, specific customer-facing processes, or backend modernization almost in isolation. It’s not as if the other areas were ignored when one was in focus, but enterprise leaders had to cherry-pick between “transformational” areas and “keep the lights on” areas due to limited premium resources.
This is changing rapidly with the arrival of holistic digital transformation platforms offering broader integrated capabilities. They enable leaders to focus on business outcomes and customer journeys by offering a staged approach to achieve end-to-end automation without risking increased technical debt. This is because these platforms leverage a customer journey-oriented approach that traditional technology-oriented automation approaches do not.
4. The “Real” Effective Use Cases of Artificial Intelligence
Most of the initial hype and experimentation in AI is behind us, and enterprises have a fairly broad understanding of the effectiveness of AI-driven initiatives, especially in front-end automation scenarios. More realistic use cases are emerging where AI and machine learning (ML) can be effectively leveraged in combination with other automation technologies.
Automated extraction of information from audio/visual (AV) media is one such example, wherein AI combined with content services capabilities can help enterprises achieve automated insurance claim processing based on a submitted video clip from the point of incident. Similarly, digital KYC (know your customer) is rapidly becoming the default in customer onboarding. AI is also demonstrating its effectiveness in processing large volumes of incoming documents (and media items) in lending, trade financing, accounts payable, and invoice processing.
In the same vein, robotic process automation (RPA), combined with holistic digital process automation and content services, can become potent beyond task automation to enable 100% automation in the end-to-end customer journey.
5. The Mainstream Rapid Application Development with Low Code
Another technology that is rapidly moving out of the buzz into becoming a mainstream force is low code. Enterprises realize that the advantages of localized low code implementations for speed do not outweigh the longer-term governance overheads associated with such siloed efforts. Enterprises are also able to go beyond the fuzzy definitions of low code and are establishing better clarity on low code vis-à-vis no code and their scopes of effectiveness.
With this clarity, a well-devised centralized low code platform-based strategy wherein hundreds of applications and processes can be developed and deployed over time in a staged approach yields speed and functional capability. These platforms are becoming the mainstream “go-to” for the rapid development of simple and complex mission-critical business applications, promising the much-needed digital acceleration we referred to earlier.
Digital Transformation Will Be About Platforms
These trends revolve around the need for enterprises to build for extremely demanding customers and employees with speed while future-proofing against uncertainty. The piecemeal approach to adopting cutting-edge technologies or siloed CX-improvement efforts do not provide the much-needed balance between innovation and control. Digital transformation, going forward, will be about platforms that bridge the silos operationally as well as technologically.
Anurag Shah is Head of Products & Solutions, Americas at Newgen Software.