Digital transformation – long-term strategy vs. short-term need

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Sometimes, businesses can’t afford to wait for the comprehensive benefits of large-scale and long-term digital transformation. They need solutions now – why shouldn’t they?

At Capgemini, we believe in holistic thinking. We work closely with multinational and global enterprises to create sustainable strategies for the development of their organizations. Our approach is built on methodologies such as our Digital Global Enterprise Model (D-GEM). It’s an approach that’s designed to address the fundamental shift that digital transformation represents.

It is, we believe, ideal. However, there’s one area that can sometimes be overlooked – but, in fact, needs careful consideration..

Short-term, real-world needs

We all know the real world is itself far from ideal. Sure, companies may want a big-picture business model that embraces every aspect of their operations – but they don’t always have the luxury of time in which to see that model realized. They often also need smaller, incremental changes – and they need them fast.

This is why robotic process automation (RPA) has gained such traction. It’s seen as a quick fix to specific and individual problems. Sometimes, that’s just what RPA can do – but on other occasions, it’s introduced mainly out of no more than optimism and a sense of urgency.

That’s not to say that quick fixes should be always be regarded with suspicion. When someone shouts “Fire!” you don’t consult a manual – you grab a bucket. Urgent business issues need immediate answers, which is why technology vendors are responding to cries for help with a range of products and services that include but are not limited to RPA.

For example, consider invoice processing. This is a functional area for which the application of RPA is often instinctive. But many organizations are finding significant improvements to outcomes can be achieved more rapidly and cost-effectively simply by introducing intelligent document processing. Fully automated processes may deliver even better results – but when the need is urgent, most of us would subscribe to the 80/20 principle, and go with what’s going to start turning things round fastest.

Two-speed transformation

We’re practical people at Capgemini, and clearly, we recognize all this. But that doesn’t mean our broader thinking is in any way compromised. Far from it. Instead, we see transformation taking place on two levels – on the tactical as well as the strategic – a two-speed transformation, if you like.

Continuing our invoice processing example, if e-invoicing is the strategic target, then tactical transformation can deal with the pressure of today and prepare a pathway to the strategic target of tomorrow. They don’t need to be mutually exclusive. Any waste generated by the tactical transformation is warranted and accepted, as it helps drive incremental benefits.

Fixes such as RPA and document processing needn’t be isolated siloes of change. They can and indeed should instead form part of a bigger picture – a picture that has its own guiding logic and sense of direction, but that nonetheless is sufficiently flexible to accommodate practical workarounds when the situation warrants it. As long we maintain a rigorous focus on alignment within an enterprise-wide model, there’s no reason why these two levels should be distinct from one another.

Each individual change that is made can contribute to the enterprise-wide transformation. It shouldn’t stop at invoice processing. This new operational pattern can be applied to other areas of finance – and then followed by HR, Legal, supply chain, and customer services. The individual application of RPA, or of document processing, or of other technologies all act as examples that can lead to further adoption, which is limited only by our imagination of where transformation can be applied.

In short, the demands of the here-and-now needn’t create inconsistencies that will cause problems later. With the right model – a model that’s comprehensive, but that’s also real world and flexible – we can incorporate solutions that answer our immediate needs, while moving us further on our digital transformation journey.

The big, long-term picture, and the short-term detail. They needn’t be mutually exclusive.

To learn more about how Capgemini’s Intelligent Process Automation  offering can stimulate the erosion of organizational silos around your front, middle and back-office processes, resulting in the emergence of a new, borderless, highly automated client-centric organization, contact: lee.beardmore@capgemini.com

Lee Beardmore  has spent over two decades advising clients on best strategies for technology adoption. More recently, he has been leading the push in AI and intelligent automation for Capgemini’s Business Services. Lee is a computer scientist by education, a technologist at heart, and has a wealth of cross-industry experience.

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