Process Excellence and AI Key to a Successful Hybrid Work Model
Many organizations are now in the throes of a hybrid work model, and some are finding things aren’t going as smoothly as planned. In fact, some leaders are still dealing with poor decisions they made when the pandemic forced them to quickly introduce new digital tools and processes. Most changes turned out to be inadequate, according to a global survey of 4,000 employees, and as many as 74% experienced challenges such as not having the right IT tools, while others expect even more challenges to occur during the next year.
When you’re considering your hybrid work model, it’s important to evaluate not just your company’s goals but the impact of processes and intelligent automation on employees and workflows. Getting this balance right is not always easy. It’s important to understand how your employees work as you begin your search for long-term digital transformation. Consider these questions:
• Are staff following current processes, or do they have alternative ways of completing tasks which they think is more efficient?
• Do they wish they could have more say in how processes are executed and have the ability to influence them?
• Would they welcome more digital assistance?
Using tech for process insight
Aside from staff feedback, you’ll also need a good bird’s eye view of your entire operations to gain a true understanding of how processes are working. CIOs can take a non-bias approach and make better in-the-moment decisions based on facts by using solutions like process mining. Driven by advanced data analytics, process mining uses event data to discover and map operations and their possible variations. It can also check existing processes for conformity with pre-defined business policies, standards, and models. These analytics help decision-makers uncover the root causes of any inefficiencies in their business processes. In other words, it helps keep track of what you’re doing well and reveals where you can do better -before even starting any automation projects.
Once you have full visibility into the inner workings of your business, consider these four tools within your hybrid strategy:
Collaboration and communication tools: Technology should be an enabler for improving communications and productivity. In a survey of office workers, they were asked which tools could make their jobs better. The top answer (70%) was communications tools. That goes for not only communicating internally but also with clients to ensure good customer service. Respondents hailed the importance of tools like Slack or Microsoft Team, used by almost three-fourths of the office staff, while only a smaller proportion of workers had access to valuable chatbots (35%). In comparison, IT staff had far greater access to this kind of technology – with 95% using communication platforms and 70% using chatbots. It’s important to ensure staff across the board can benefit from digital ways to improve communication.
Implement task monitoring: The second top answer for what tools could make office workers’ jobs better was productivity monitoring (43%). Tools like task mining can analyze how people interact with systems and provide unique productivity data. This can help organizations shift away from repetitive tasks and empower employees to focus on higher-value work. It can even be used as a personal productivity tool for employees to see how they’re working and how they can improve processes. In fact, as many as 76% of respondents agreed that monitoring employee performance for the first time worked successfully. Advanced task mining tools have protocols and settings in place to safeguard users’ personal data since they log user interactions in real-time, helping avoid infringing on users’ privacy.
Incorporate new AI tools for overcoming inefficiencies
For leaders responsible for driving digital transformation, success will depend on getting the right combination of tools. They must also deliver innovation that enables them to disrupt their industry, without disrupting the company’s day-to-day operations. A study from the International Facility Management Association (IMFA) highlighted that employers are now focusing their investment on providing the digital tools, equipment, and training for remote workers to ensure that workplace productivity, wherever that may be, isn’t affected by outdated tech. Most companies know they need to do this, but they are often not sure where to start.
While RPA is one of the most popular starting points to automate existing manual, repetitive processes, companies are reaching a roadblock in their digital transformation journey and need more intelligent technology to achieve the full benefits, especially with a hybrid work model. Some of the common AI tools needed to complement RPA include machine learning (ML) to learn from data by looking at similar patterns and be able to predict a decision a human would make; and intelligent document processing (IDP), which leverages OCR, ML, and NLP to digitize and understand unstructured content and adds cognitive skills to RPA bots so they can learn, reason, and understand content within various documents.
Previously, IDP could only be implemented through experts certified in machine learning and AI technology. However, with new ‘off the shelf’ low code/no code platforms now available, business users can integrate it into their current intelligent automation platforms with simple ‘drag and drop’ automation. It enables the delivery of pre-built document skills for understanding any type of document such as invoices, receipts, purchase orders, bills of lading, shipping documents, mortgage applications and many others. Skills built by a powerful ecosystem of technology vendors and service providers can be accessed through online digital marketplaces so it’s as easy as ‘add to basket’.
Evaluate the ROI of digital transformation: With so many tools available to run through your organization to automate, initiate and drive processes forward, it’s imperative to be able to monitor their ongoing performance. This should include the ability to identify and rectify bottlenecks and have insights into how digitally transformed processes are impacting overall
operations and the customer experience. Process intelligence monitors how content flows through business applications and combined with business intelligence and data science and analytics can be used individually or together to provide IT leaders a “control plane” of how all the departments’ process workflows.
To ensure success in a hybrid workplace, IT leaders should have a holistic view of their processes and make it a priority to review each employee’s workspace characteristics and needs. Approaching it in the right way and considering the above factors can help you make the most of your plan, while creating a stronger working environment for your employees.
Richard Rabin is Head of Process Excellence at ABBYY, a Digital Intelligence company. He works closely with global enterprises to help them better understand and optimize their business process workflows, bottlenecks, and how to select the initiatives that will yield the most business value with intelligent automation, and how they will impact overall operational excellence. Richard has a remarkable academic background in Computer and Information Science and AI and has more than 35 years of software engineering expertise.