The revolution is here. Processes, systems and organisations are evolving, changing to meet the new shape of business. The Fourth Industrial Revolution weaves digital into the very fabric of the organisation, wielding automation and interconnection. Yet challenges remain.
01 February 2022 • 4 min read
Organisations face very real challenges in the current economic and operational climate. Despite the potential of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) and the technologies that define it, there are complexities limiting business success across multiple touchpoints. Some are legacy challenges that have impacted digital transformation from the outset, while others are new blockages thrown into the business mix by recent events. All are limiting the organisation’s ability to fully realise strategic digitisation.
The first is perhaps the most topical right now: new models of work. Virtual offices, distributed offices, co-working, hybrid frameworks and radical shifts in wellness and working methodologies are all contributing to comprehensive changes in mindset and digital investment. This is further complicated by increased diffusion of digital culture within corporate companies and the need to upskill and reskill employees to ensure the retention of talent within a highly competitive marketplace. The latter is also complicated by the need to ensure that existing talent is future-proofed with skillsets that can handle the increasing digital load and that align to business strategy.
And every one of these boxes has to be ticked at the same time as ensuring that the organisation prioritises social responsibility and its impact on the environment.
Automation and interconnection may be buzzwords today, but they soon must be a reality that’s capable of generating value for the organisation. This value lies in digital providing the organisation with the insights and capabilities it needs to find new avenues of growth, reduce the employee admin burden and streamline efficiencies. To achieve this, organisations need to take an integrated approach to digital, one that doesn’t just focus on quick-win actions.
An integrated approach ensures that the technology is leveraged as a key instrument of support, providing improved decision-making capabilities and process efficiencies over the long term. It gives people the space and insights they need to drive product innovation and service delivery, and amplifies knowledge sharing – skills that are in high demand and that can be curated within the right ecosystem. It also promotes new workflows and skills training that are designed to continually improve performance. In cohesion, all these factors come together to create a value chain that connects multiple touchpoints throughout the organisation.
The road to excellence is characterised by an increasingly close and coordinated interconnection and interaction between processes and people.
The road to excellence is characterised by an increasingly close and coordinated interconnection and interaction between processes and people. This facilitates automation solutions that are capable of improving performance by focusing resources on higher-value activities. It is only with such an integrated system that we can achieve the flexibility required to proactively respond to the challenges of the future.
The first step on the ideal roadmap requires that the business identify those areas that generate value, the processes through which these values operate, and their priority.
Data-driven techniques and diagnostic tools can shine a light on any inefficient processes or practices that may be impacting the business while also identifying areas ripe for automation. This will allow for the business to identify two areas that may require intervention: corporate processes that need to be redesigned along with organisational changes that need to be implanted and skills development; and processes and activities that could benefit from automation.
The most consistent benefits are often found when connecting RPA with machine learning capabilities.
A solid automation strategy should outline various levels of intervention that range from consolidated solutions, such as robotic process automation (RPA), to the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and hyper-automation. RPA offers the business nifty improvements. It minimises human error, recovers efficiencies, increases corporate flexibility, and benefits productivity. The most consistent benefits are often found when connecting RPA with machine learning capabilities. This creates a self-improving system that’s capable of constantly analysing processes and providing updates in real time. This combination is often the first step towards the use of AI.
Of course, AI is another much talked about digital innovation that offers the business immense value. It can be used to analyse vast quantities of data with zero lead time and to identify patterns in the data that would be otherwise hidden to people. With AI, organisations can embed even greater visibility into operations and transform decision-making agility.
AI allows for industrial solutions to learn from the choices made by human beings. It allows the system to become progressively smarter, improving the quality of the entire production chain.
There are two clear trends that analysts have identified on the horizon: hyper-automation and augmented intelligence. Both offer immense value to the organisation. Hyper-automation helps the business to rapidly identify, control and automate processes at scale using RPA, low-code application platforms, AI and more. Each of these technologies is powerful in its own right, but when used as building blocks in a greater framework, they are transformative on a foundational level.
Augmented intelligence is a design framework that puts people at the heart of interaction and that delivers measurable value in training, decision-making and the evaluation of new business models. It puts itself at the service of people and improves their reach and scope. Both these pathways to business success are further shaped by the business risk appetite and its strategic focus.
As these solutions continue to evolve and adapt to changing market demands, so do organisations need to find ways of implementing and scaling at speed so they can rapidly take advantage.
The success of investment into digital transformation rests in the organisation’s ability to fully realise the potential of these technologies in a very real, very measurable way. As these solutions continue to evolve and adapt to changing market demands, so do organisations need to find ways of implementing and scaling at speed so they can rapidly take advantage of the new use cases they offer.
Of course, while the IT component is crucial to digital transformation, the real success of such a transformative path is linked to the organisation’s ability to consistently evolve, and this requires change management, skills development and a commitment to people. The technology revolution demands employee engagement as this radical transformation will have a lasting impact on how they work. So, add onto the investment a commitment to ongoing skills development and improving employee quality of life. All these factors combined then provide your business with the foundation it needs to take an intelligent approach to transformation.
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