Thursday, 22nd October 2020

The vital role technology plays in precarious times

By Don Schuerman, chief technology officer at Pegasystems.

In times of uncertainty, businesses are faced with the difficult choice of which tasks they should prioritise. When going through a difficult period, organisations may find themselves in a state of confusion, unsure of what they should be doing to mitigate risks or resolve urgent issues, let alone to prepare for the future.

From video collaboration tools that allow important meetings to go ahead, to process automation software that provides efficiency for customer service operations – and rapid responses to customer inquiries – it’s pretty evident that technology plays a crucial role in business success. As a result, there is a critical need for software that is both effective and reliable.

The current pandemic has forced organisations to move at a speed that they have never previously had to. Recently, on a virtual client meeting, one of my colleagues stated, “If you weren’t doing agile before, you are doing it now!” By adopting a low-code framework for case management, organisations can put together an application that tracks cases and connects data across different systems. Regardless of size, organisations can adopt this approach to support customer and employees needs today while building a sustainable, transformative foundation for the future. Some organisations have used low-code development platforms to release applications that let them monitor the spread of the virus within their businesses to keep employees safe and healthy.

Case management gives companies the chance to capture, track, manage, and automate work, even if work from numerous, various teams, and systems are needed.

The Bavarian government in Germany utilised its new platform to develop a faster application process for SME businesses seeking financial relief, helping them survive through the coronavirus crisis. Applicants fill out an online form, enabling data to be saved digitally from the beginning, making the information quicker and easier to access.

Automation technology is used by clerks to complete cases in an efficient manner, automating the transmission of payment information to the correct system. The applicant is then notified of the status of their request. Automation is such a useful tool because it eliminates the need for time-consuming, manually performed processes, speeding up financial aid delivery to businesses, and taking unnecessary pressure off government administration. As a result, the financial relief SMEs received from the Bavarian government totalled 229 million euros in the first few days of going live, which would have otherwise taken weeks.

Automation also plays a crucial role for various businesses as it helps to reduce pressure on call centre workers who are overwhelmed with the spike in customer queries. AI engines can automatically interpret the thousands of emails that come in and move them into case management to automate the response. Staff members

can shift their focus to resolving more complex issues, while customers receive a faster service.

With remote working set to continue for many workers for the foreseeable future, companies concerned about productivity levels can benefit from automation too. Task-based automation tools such as robotic process automation (RPA) can help organisations dramatically reduce the time employees spend on resource-heavy, repetitive tasks. End-to-end automation platforms also help users connect across distributed work enterprises – even out to partners in their ever-growing ecosystems – ensuring that handovers are clean, there’s continued visibility, and that no information falls by the wayside.

This cartoon from Tom Fishburne illustrates a COVID-19 wrecking ball that is about to smash into the building of a business where the executives inside claim that “digital transformation is still years away.” The message is that coronavirus has forced businesses to speed up digital transformation to prepare for the future. Digital transformation has always been important, but the pandemic has made the need for the move to modern agile technology even more critical to businesses.

In just a few months, the pandemic has radically changed the way businesses operate. Prior to COVID-19, it was known that offering a flexible work/life balance helped with attracting and retaining talent. After weeks of employees working from home successfully full time, remote working in many organisations – in some capacity – will continue. Organisations will need to utilise their technology stack that ranges from collaboration tools to video conferencing to support their distanced workforce for the longer term.

As companies begin to adjust to this new way of working, they also need to make sure that the right processes are in place for them to manage their team. We are set to see the emergence of AI-powered ‘managers’ allocating work based on real-time feedback from customers in order to provide great service in real-time.

A low-code visual development methodology enables collaboration between IT and business when it comes to designing aspects of a customer journey that are aligned with immediate outcomes – fulfilling a customer service request being one example. Organisations can then incorporate both journeys to the front-end channels and user interfaces and back to current systems that store key data sets and transactions. By bridging the gap between IT and business through collaboration, companies can accelerate any idea for an application whilst building a framework for rapid agility and change. This does not just mean improvements for one process or channel but the opportunity to re-consider their business operations from the centre-out. This can start with customer journeys that have to be automated.

While we attempt to navigate the unknowns ahead, it remains clear that technology will play a huge role in helping businesses remain stable. These challenging times have shown that it’s extremely useful for a company to have the ability to not only react quickly but also to adapt to sudden changes in the environment. When we return back to normality, the correct technology applied in the right architecture will prove that businesses are able to adapt to whatever the future holds.

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