Fuji Xerox APAC General Manager Digital Platform, Advanced Industrial Services Leon O’Reilly discusses business automation’s shift from important to imperative in a post-pandemic world.
By Leon O’Reilly
COVID-19 has been one of the greatest levellers of our time.
The ripple effect caused by this pandemic has affected every industry in one way or another and has forced the hand of businesses to accelerate digital transformation. Albeit unforeseen, the ‘New Norm’ has acted as a catalyst for change, with the lens of businesses now refocused on operations and enhancing customer experience.
Regionally, Singapore stands ahead of their global counterparts in terms of digital adoption. However, it’s been a mixed bag in the world of business with new challenges taking shape as well.
For instance, human resource managers now face the uphill task of managing talent and labour. How does a company’s culture resonate with a new employee who is onboarded remotely? In addition, once the economy improves, how can businesses attract and retain their talent and will everyone be onboarded with working in a new way? How can businesses retain their customer base with the realization that every business is racing to sharpen their processes and enhance customer experience, given the context with COVID-19?
Staff are increasingly working remotely, often across borders. Management and HR need to understand and promote the idea that staff can be scattered geographically without being fragmented in terms of productivity and team ethic. COVID-19 has led to further redefining of how office norms and processes are defined, and exacerbated the digitisation of workplace interaction. Leadership must therefore further modify business models, systems and processes as we adapt to the new norm.
Embracing that the foreseeable future will hold a scattered and remote workforce is now rudimentary. According to a report from Buffer, 99% of employees say yes to working remotely at some point of time, for the rest of their career. Some companies, such as Twitter, have already taken action, as flexible workstyles are likely to be the trend moving forward.
With the lean into working remotely and digitally, automation will be more sought-after than ever as companies need solutions that maintain efficiency, productivity and validity that performance is kept at its optimal state. To drive this, companies need to be introspective and ask the following questions:
How do I drive smoother collaboration and show value to the market through digital means?
As a team, do we have all the digital capabilities to succeed and has this changed with working remotely; and,
How do I protect the versatile requirements of my currently remote teams?
A lot of the time, the answers to these questions can be found in digitalization and automated services that aid in streamlining processes already in place.
According to a survey from McKinsey on the importance of digitalization, it highlighted that businesses should lean into workplace automation as it provides significant opportunity for improvement in performance and efficiency. Corroborating this, three quarters of surveyed respondents said that their companies have already begun to automate or plan to do in the short term.
The real ‘kicker’ lies in cultivating a positive customer experience. Businesses need to grasp that speed is one of the greatest competitive advantages for consumers and as a result, companies must leverage new tech and opportunities to fill the gaps with genuinely useful services for better streamlined processes.
Organizations need to focus on digitally enabling operating models and business processes, decision making capabilities, digital employee experiences to enhance productivity and optimize the cost structure. Organizations that either are or can become digitally powered and connected during this crisis will be the winners coming out of it.
Digital transformation and business automation are not new to corporations, but with COVID-19, businesses need to accelerate this shift to support a digital workforce to prevent the loss of productivity and revenue. With technology being a catalyst for change, it can be used to alleviate pressure on business processes as a result of COVID-19.
As the WFH-revolution takes full swing, small details in thought processes and support can go a long way. Done right, technology such as AI can help boost productivity and morale; performed shoddily and it can permanently damage work relationships and demotivate employees.
Technologies to provide business process automation such as contract lifecycle management to reinforce security will further enable businesses to have better control and instil freedom to make game changing decisions.
Some have dubbed data as the ‘new gold’, with breaches and attacks rampant and highly detrimental with potentially crippling consequences. With a plethora of information just a few clicks away, cybersecurity cannot be underestimated.
Spending on cybersecurity is forecasted to reach USD 133.7 billion in 2022, and cyber-crime is expected to cost businesses over USD 2 trillion — a four-fold increase from 2015 with measures also indicating that it takes most businesses about 197 days to detect a breach on their network.
With cyber-crime expected to cost businesses over USD 2 trillion, a currently scattered workforce sharing thousands of documents, daily, behind the unguarded WIFI networks can only provide a hotbed for cyber-attacks for hackers.
Solutions promoting collaboration, document sharing and IT infrastructure that safeguard against cyberthreats can provide peace of mind for managers and business owners as a ‘quick-fix ‘that should be considered as they act as a shield in ensuring your documents stay safe.
With employees unable to meet frequently in offices, businesses must adapt and upgrade their infrastructure and business processes to stay ahead of the curve, ensure workflows are secure and deterrent from threats alongside plugging gaps where found.
Businesses need to leverage smart technologies to satisfy their needs, as research suggests that nearly half of tasks done by paid professionals could be performed through automated means. This will not only improve the efficiency of operations, but also provide a better customer experience with employees being able to provide value-added services for clients.
A business’ traditional identity must be firm no matter the circumstance. Above the fixed value proposition it brings to the market, the right mix of savvy and speedy digital solutions must be present for staff to produce the right results in a secure manner with automation crucial in ensuring that everything runs safely, smoothly and easily.
(Ed. Leon O’Reilly is the General Manager for Digital Platform, Advanced Industrial Services, and a member of Fuji Xerox’s senior leadership team. O’Reilly says he has a Bachelor Degree of Electronic Engineering and Business Management (Honors) from the University of Plymouth in the United Kingdom, and credentials from Stanford University in Design Thinking. Featured image by Photographer Kseniia Lopyreva.)