Digital is changing the world.
Customers want a quick and seamless digital experience and they want it now. They want to log in to their online electricity account and see a real-time report of their consumption. They expect to buy a phone and have it activated and set up immediately out of the box. They want bank loans to be preapproved or approved in minutes. They expect all service providers to have automated access to all the data they provided earlier and not to ask the same questions over and over again. They wonder why a bank needs their salary slips as proof of income when their money is being deposited directly into the bank every month by their employer.
Customers are demanding a radical overhaul of business processes. Intuitive interfaces, around-the-clock availability, real-time fulfilment, personalised treatment, global consistency and zero errors - this is the world to which customers have become increasingly accustomed.
It’s more than a superior user experience, however; when companies get it right, they can also offer more competitive prices because of lower costs, better operational controls and less risk.
To meet these high customer expectations, companies must accelerate the digitisation of their business processes. But they should go beyond simply automating an existing process.
They must reinvent the entire business process, including cutting the number of steps required, reducing the number of documents, developing automated decision making and dealing with regulatory and fraud issues.
Operating models, skills, organisational structures and roles need to be redesigned to match the reinvented processes. Data models should be adjusted and rebuilt to enable better decision making, performance tracking and customer insights.
The benefits are huge. By digitising information-intensive processes, costs can be cut dramatically and turnaround times improved by several orders of magnitude. Replacing paper and manual processes with software allows businesses to automatically collect data that can be mined to better understand process performance, cost drivers and causes of risk.
Real-time reports and dashboards on digital-process performance permit managers to address problems before they become critical. For example, supply-chain-quality issues can be identified and dealt with more rapidly by monitoring customer buying behaviour and feedback in digital channels.
Companies that digitise processes can improve their bottom lines and delight customers. The value at stake depends on the business model and starting point but can be estimated by allocating costs to end-to-end processes and benchmarking against peers.
To kick-start the approach and build capabilities and momentum, organisations can undertake one or two pilots and then scale rapidly.
Challenge everything related to an existing process and rebuild it. Digitisation can enable a process to be fundamentally reconfigured. Successful digitisation starts by designing the future state for each process without regard for current constraints - say, shortening a process turnaround time from days to minutes. Once a compelling future state has been described, constraints (for instance, legally required checks) can be reintroduced.
Digitising stages of the customer experience increases efficiency in specific areas of the process and address some burning customer issues. To tackle an end-to-end process such as customer onboarding, process-digitisation needs support from every function involved in the customer experience including the end customer. This can, also, improve lines of communication and ensure a true team effort.
We emphasise building in-house capabilities. Our goal is to create a centre of excellence with skilled staff that can be called upon to digitise processes quickly. We provide the skills needed to build the required technology components in a modular way so that they can be reused across processes, maximising economies of scale.
Digitising processes one by one can deliver improved performance in a few months. Moving quickly isn’t always easy. More often than not, it’s business decision making that’s causing the bottleneck rather than IT development. That’s why digitisation needs strong board-level support while all other decisions should be delegated to the project team.