Putting digital transformation in the hands of every employee

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The digital age has already transformed our personal lives, and we now see the same shift in all sectors of the business world. 

Used to same-day delivery from Amazon, food brought directly to front doors by Deliveroo and ordering Ubers at the touch of a button, customers are increasingly demanding instant gratification and high-quality experiences in every aspect of their lives.

At the same time, businesses are under pressure to drive new productivity growth, and are turning to technology solutions to help them do this. If businesses are to succeed in addressing these two important economic shifts and keep pace with the giants, they need to overhaul their operations; and this is where engaging the entire workforce in that initiative becomes critical. 

Cracking the productivity puzzle

Politicians and economists have bemoaned the sluggish pace of UK productivity growth for years, with latest figures from the ONS revealing labour productivity only grew modestly in Q2 of 2018, by 1.4%, compared to Q2 of 2017. This is significantly lower than the the long-term trend observed before 2008, when productivity growth averaged nearly 2% per year. For a long time, businesses drove productivity up by outsourcing work and finding cheaper labour. But labour rates are equalising globally and population growth is slowing, meaning organisations have to get smarter about how they work. Investments in technology over the past decade promised to make productivity soar, but have so far failed to deliver the desired impact. 

Rather than relying on upgrading their existing technology stack to drive productivity growth, businesses must instead look at their internal processes and how their organisations are operating. Too many transformation initiatives fail to make an impact because enterprises don’t truly understand how their businesses are being run. But taking a closer look under the car bonnet can put a spotlight on inefficiencies, helping them to change their working practices.

Leading organisations across the globe, such as Uber, Siemens, and Vodafone are doing just that, using technology known as process mining. A category of big data analytics, the technology enables organisations to analyse their business processes effectively in real-time, making it easier to identify bottlenecks across the company. As a result, they are able to transform their business models by mobilising every employee to change the way they work. This has resulted in more streamlined processes, happier customers, and for Siemens, millions of pounds in efficiency savings.

Streamlining operations

Process mining can be applied to nearly any business process, from customer service to order-to-cash to process-to-payment. Combined with machine learning, the technology becomes a powerful tool, automatically recognising process improvement opportunities and making recommendations to employees, acting as their personal digital assistant. Uber uses this technology to analyse approximately a billion customer service records, reducing customer service tickets and driving resolution time down. 

When looking to stay competitive in the digital age and go head-to-head with disruptors such as Amazon and Uber, there is no room for inefficiency. Today, businesses are under increasing pressure to deliver flawless customer experiences and squeeze out every last drop of operational effectiveness. If they’re to succeed in this, they must use their most important asset – their people – to mobilise change. By using simple tools and technology, every employee within the enterprise can be engaged with the initiative to propel the business forward. 

The responsibility for business transformation lies with every employee, and therefore, companies looking to increase productivity and efficiency must equip them with the right tools to do so. Process discovery and process analytics are useful technologies to prioritize which initiatives in a transformation will have the most impact but to get every employee involved, tools that recommend the next best actions will help drive change that sticks.

Alexander Rinke is co-founder and CEO, Celonis