How Remote Work Influences Digitization and Automation

How Remote Work Influences Digitization and Automation

July 16, 2020

Kofax Senior VP & GM APJ Zakir Ahmed says many companies are looking to automation and digitization to reinvent old ways and navigate future uncertainties.

By Zakir Ahmed

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced a new normal upon us, and we must be ready to adapt to long-term changes. While organisations have been moving towards automation and digitization, the crisis has pushed businesses to speed up the rate of adoption.

To thrive under this climate, businesses need to revisit and re-evaluate their strategies. Industries like digital entertainment, communications, digital education, logistics, healthcare and government agencies are stepping up to meet demand by increasing service and production capacity, adapting to remote working environments and developing rapid solutions.

In Singapore, a supplementary Resilience Budget has been implemented to support initiatives that help companies overcome economic uncertainties, and build capabilities for the long term, by digitizing, restructuring and transforming their operations.

At a time like this, it’s paramount that businesses adapt to withstand tumultuous external conditions. This is key for businesses that previously relied on customer-facing operations and being physically present to carry out operations.

With the current crisis unfolding, AIA Group Limited, the largest independent publicly listed pan-Asian life insurance group, leads the way in showcasing why a digital workforce is essential to ensure continuity in achieving business goals. Prior to the pandemic, AIA Group Limited had already identified the need to move away from a paperless operation, into a digitally enabled operation.

To reduce the number of physical meetings and paper-based documentation, AIA became the first in the insurance industry to incorporate e-signature capabilities in its Point Of Sales (POS) application. Leveraging Kofax’s technology, AIA implemented a solution guiding agents and customers through a needs-based interactive sales process.

The customer can apply and sign directly on the POS tablet screen, and the integrated camera captures attachments and credentials, such as the ID card. Agents need not carry brochures, flyers and papers, and with straight-through processing, meetings, and the need to travel back to sales branches, are also minimised. With the help of a digital workforce, businesses can augment customer interactions, automate processes and optimise operations’ capacity.

Cloud is another technology enabling rapid capabilities during a crisis. Cloud vendors have long touted the value of elastic, on-demand resources during peak usage, but this value proposition has fallen to the bottom of the priority list for many organisations.

Cloud penetration rate in Asia Pacific market is lagging. According to a study by Boston Consulting Group, the majority of companies in the region haven’t yet migrated their applications to the cloud. Likewise, critical business applications aren’t cloud-ready. This leaves organisations dependent on legacy and on-premise data infrastructures.

However, organisations are now beginning to re-evaluate how they prioritise the adoption of cloud infrastructures. The pandemic will make it more pertinent for businesses to increase cloud adoption rates to implement essential collaboration tools for a remote workforce.

Businesses that leverage new technologies and accelerate their cloud adoption process stand to benefit in the long run because of the increased agility to respond quickly, even in a remote setting. More so, aligning the strategies of various units within the company to cloud adoption initiatives helps streamline internal processes-, — including recruitment, training, onboarding and cybersecurity efforts. Such strategies enable continuous business growth, increases efficiency and speeds up operations even if when businesses operate in a remote or digital workforce environment.

Organisations have already begun breaking away from existing business practices. While the immediate priorities for many companies were focused around employee safety and enabling remote collaboration, savvy leaders are also turning their attention to strategies for accelerating growth as we emerge from this crisis. Many companies are looking for opportunities to reinvent their ways to navigate the uncertainty and be future-ready.

Digital solutions like eSignature, mobile capture and conversational user experiences will be quickly institutionalized and become part of business practices. With the new normal, remote work is here to stay. To get the most out of a remote workforce, manual processes and repetitive tasks impeding efficiency need to be eliminated. A robust technological infrastructure must be in place to respond to these needs.

Overall, one trend seems to be certain, this crisis requiring the implementation of large-scale work-from-home arrangements, is going to rapidly accelerate digitization and automation.

Whether you’re in an industry searching for capacity or are trying to adapt and drive demand, companies prioritizing digitization, automation and cloud adoption from ‘nice to have’ to ‘a must have’ will likely emerge stronger and have greater market share in their respective industries.

(Ed. Zakir Ahmed is based in Singapore and says he is responsible for Kofax’s business growth success across the APJ region. Prior to joining Kofax, Ahmed was Oracle Vice President and General Manager, NetSuite BU. Ahmed holds a Bachelor Degree from University of Wisconsin-Madison USA. Featured image courtesy of SpaceX.)

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