In part one of this series, I discussed how – despite market pressure to do so – organizations today can’t morph into digital-first enterprises overnight. Becoming an agile business and offering cutting-edge products and services starts with building up your digital core.
As I also mentioned in part one, this exercise isn’t a matter of interlocking a few mobile apps with your ERP system. Instead, it’s about modernizing all of your front and back-office processes in order to reap the benefits of data, analytics and automation.
For most businesses in 2016, embarking on the journey to become a truly digital organization shouldn’t be a matter of “if,” but “when.” Here are three essential questions business leaders must ask themselves before launching this major transformation:
1. Are we prepared to document all of our processes?
Before you can begin automating any process, be it for accounting, procurement or inventory management, it must be documented. The challenge for organizations, however, is that many of these processes are not only manual, but they’re often “tribal knowledge” held by a few key employees – who may not always be willing to divulge that intellectual property.
Executives need to closely consider the time and effort required to document each of the internal processes they hope to update. At Capgemini, we’ve developed a repository of best practices around most business processes to help clients streamline this documentation phase.
2. Do we have automation agents to help us make the most of this transformation?
The shift to becoming a digital enterprise demands more than having change agents within and outside your organization; it requires internal leaders and partners who can ensure that you’re maximizing the benefits of automation. To paraphrase Bill Gates, applying automation to inefficient processes only magnifies the inefficiency.
Once all of your current processes are documented, your organization needs the insight and expertise to identify unnecessary steps or broken workflows before automating them. This refinement stage is crucial to ensuring that automation ultimately enhances business throughput, rather than only eliminating costs or operational waste.
3. How will we use automation to facilitate growth?
Many executives mistakenly think about automation in the context of cost – how much money will we save? How many unnecessary expenditures can we cut? Automation and developing a digital core, however, is about creating abundance, not trimming the fat. By adopting agile IT processes and automating burdensome tasks, employees can devote more time to meaningful, strategic projects.
Moving to digital systems of engagement also yields clearer visibility into your operations, providing the information necessary to develop better products and deliver a stronger customer experience. Cost savings can be a byproduct of this change, but the transformation itself is more about unleashing time and capital that can be reinvested into growth opportunities throughout the organization.
The evolution of a species, industry or decades-old business is a dynamic progression. Staying content with the status quo, or even rushing to enact haphazard change, only keeps organizations running in place. Enduring Digital Darwinism requires the bold leadership, insightful planning and curiosity to move forward.