Four Ways To Shift Automation From Tactical To Transformative

Organizations must transcend piecemeal approaches to business reinvention and design processes around people — tightly linked from the front to the back office, advises Girish Pai, who leads Cognizant’s Intelligent Process Automation practice.

“Going digital” has long been touted as a silver bullet for delivering better customer experiences and streamlining processes. Automation has become the go-to approach for solving immediate pain points, mainly in the form of tactically deploying one-off robotic process automation (RPA) initiatives to make our jobs a little easier and/or more efficient.

While achieving short-term gains, this piecemeal approach to process reinvention creates complexity due to disconnected strategies, siloed pilot projects and an incohesive technology strategy, among other factors. More importantly, it complicates businesses’ ability to adapt and inject fluidity into operations — characteristics crucial for delivering the future of work right now.

Old ways of thinking about automation just won’t cut it anymore, and the decentralized business world emerging from the pandemic has increased the pressure to deliver.

However, we’re finding that businesses are overwhelmingly ill-prepared for this journey. According to our research, 60% of companies have implemented or piloted automation technology, but only a tiny minority (8%) have said they’ve achieved automation at scale.

To unlock new value, opportunities and growth, organizations need to focus on the “why” of automation to achieve business results. They need to design processes around people — customers, employees, partners, suppliers — fused together from the front-office to the back-office, across all functions. Here’s how.

Anchor end-to-end process redesign to business outcomes and ensure scalability.

Organizations typically approach automation by looking for opportunities to increase speed or take complex manual tasks off their hands. It seems logical — but if they’re automating processes that just don’t work, they’re merely automating inefficiency. As customer journeys become more complex and competitors accelerate innovation, it becomes even more important to exert strategic oversight into automation initiatives.

End-to-end process change doesn’t work when organizations focus arbitrarily on finding opportunities for automation. They should first determine their overall business goals, identify inefficiencies in existing processes and then create automated systems that can scale. To succeed, they need to weave together people, processes, experiences, data insights, intelligence and technology via an automation fabric that masks complexity from users, simplifies orchestration, brings together disparate emerging technologies such as machine learning, natural language processing and intelligent document processing, and drives adoption and collaboration.

We recently worked with a healthcare provider to reduce its claims denial rate and improve net collections. We used process mining tools to identify bottlenecks and process issues, then ran possible intervention simulations to build a business case for business change.

This allowed us to create a strategic blueprint for implementing process changes, automation, monitoring and people enablement. Using RPA, optical character recognition (OCR) and artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML) technologies, we were able to reduce the claims denial rate from 17% to 12% and improve net collections from 23% to 30%.

Because automation was deployed strategically instead of tactically, the processes behind the technology are efficient and will remain stable through growth periods.

Take a people-first approach.

As businesses adjust to a digital culture, they need to prioritize the human beings working alongside software and bots (i.e., digital workers). A one-size-fits-all approach to education and upskilling doesn’t work with a multigenerational and distributed workforce. Creating a people-first automation plan requires accommodations for skill level, comfort with technology and the state of innovation.

We worked with a claims processing organization to help it navigate this type of culture change. By analyzing the day-to-day challenges and dependencies of users, we created a customized training program that showcases how technology can reduce effort and improve decision-making. We prioritized initiatives based on ease of implementation and scaled them as technology understanding improved.

By prioritizing the needs of the workforce as new technology is deployed, the business will not only enhance time-to-adoption but also create a better customer experience through skilled employees, more efficient claims handling, greater cost savings from reduced penalties and more resilient operations.

Use modern technology to create modern experiences.

Digital is enabling companies to break traditional industry boundaries, introducing supportive and complementary offerings that create seamless purchasing environments for customers. But in doing so, they’re no longer just delivering products — they’re delivering experiences.

This means that back-office metric optimization can no longer be disassociated from front-office customer interaction and overall process change. The customer experience must be at the core of how processes are managed.

One leading medical device company struggled to educate customers on the features of its new devices. Because users’ health was involved, the company needed access to accurate information as quickly as possible. After reviewing patient, caregiver, payer and supplier personas and journeys, we helped create a blueprint for simplifying the interaction across ecosystem touchpoints.

We introduced chatbots, remote monitoring and AI-based patient safety services. By centering decisions around customer needs and expectations, the company was able to create a seamless user experience that reduces friction.

Guide widespread digitization with high-level strategy.

Automation is becoming more pervasive in enterprises. Low-code automation tools are rapidly entering the market, making it easier than ever to create digitally connected ways of working.

The key is to empower those closest to the process challenges with design and execution guide rails to holistically integrate and optimize disparate technologies as they learn, build and scale experiences and process transformation rapidly.

While the growing accessibility of automation offers a panoply of process optimization opportunities, the ease of use of low-code automation should not override the need for high-level strategic planning. To truly power customer-driven business decisions, organizations need data — and lots of it. If departments within your organization are approaching automation independently, data can quickly become trapped in siloes — making it impossible to efficiently gather the insights required to eliminate friction points.

Never lose sight of the “why” in automation

As process digitization evolves, it will become even more important to understand the “why” — not just the “what” — behind automation initiatives. Efficient process digitization requires a balancing act between effective technology adoption and enterprise-wide oversight.

By taking a fused, end-to-end automation approach, businesses can cut across siloes and enable data to flow freely between departments, creating an opportunity to thrive through better decision-making, reduced costs and greater business innovation.

To learn more visit the Intelligent Process Automation section of our website or contact us.

Girish Pai is a seasoned digital and transformation leader with over two decades of experience and a strong track record of delivering strategic business outcomes for clients globally across industries. Girish heads the Intelligent Process Automation Practice for Cognizant Digital Business Operations, leading the charge to create next-gen digital solutions by leveraging technology to simplify, reimagine and transform processes. Girish holds a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Manipal Institute of Technology, India. He can be reached at Girish.Pai@cognizant.com or on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/girishpai/

Source: Four Ways To Shift Automation From Tactical To Transformative

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How Digital Makes Banks Flexible, Responsive And Intimate

While making digital the main channel of customer engagement, banks are also looking to move beyond business as usual, says Amit Anand, a Vice President in Cognizant Consulting’s Banking and Financial Services.

COVID-19 made online channels indispensable for bank customers, including those who preferred in-person banking. This accelerated their digital strategies and created an opportunity to go beyond the basics and become partners in their customers’ pursuit of financial wellness.

As banks bet big on digital, they are looking at technologies such as AI, advanced analytics, and automation to provide personalization, prediction and speed in creating powerful customer experiences. Banks are also increasingly relying on machines to automate repetitive tasks and make complex decisions, creating demand for human skillsets that complement intelligent machines.

Cognizant’s Center for the Future of Work (CFoW), working with Oxford Economics, recently surveyed 4,000 C-level executives globally, including 287 senior banking and financial services executives to understand how banks are adapting to fast and dramatic changes.

The earliest forms of digital banking trace back to the advent of ATMs and cards launched in the 1960s. As the internet emerged in the 1980s with early broadband, digital networks began to connect retailers with suppliers and consumers to develop needs for early online catalogues and inventory software systems.

By the 1990s the Internet became widely available and online banking started becoming the norm. The improvement of broadband and ecommerce systems in the early 2000s led to what resembled the modern digital banking world today. The proliferation of smartphones through the next decade opened the door for transactions on the go beyond ATM machines. Over 60% of consumers now use their smartphones as the preferred method for digital banking.

The challenge for banks is now to facilitate demands that connect vendors with money through channels determined by the consumer. This dynamic shapes the basis of customer satisfaction, which can be nurtured with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. Therefore, CRM must be integrated into a digital banking system, since it provides means for banks to directly communicate with their customers.

There is a demand for end-to-end consistency and for services, optimized on convenience and user experience. The market provides cross platform front ends, enabling purchase decisions based on available technology such as mobile devices, with a desktop or Smart TV at home. In order for banks to meet consumer demands, they need to keep focusing on improving digital technology that provides agility, scalability and efficiency.

Seven Ways to Capitalize on Digital

  1. Institute front-to-back digitization. Banks can effectively compete with fintech competitors by becoming digital institutions.
  2. Explore new customer segments and business paradigms. Digital makes it easier than ever for banks to explore small business segments, even as they pursue existing markets.
  3. Emphasize platform centricity and smart aggregation. Open banking standards can help banks to provide personalized products to customers in collaboration with third-party providers and fintechs.
  4. Invest in personalizing the customer relationship. Banks should use personalized experiences to make customers’ lives as frictionless as possible.
  5. Focus on re-building trust and resiliency. Banks need to eliminate any biases in decisions made by machines.
  6. Enshrine inclusivity into your digital strategy. Banks should use digital to reach customers who are left out by being physically and cognitively challenged.
  7. Balance machine-driven and human-centric work. Create sturdy human-machine collaboration by reevaluating jobs for a shared environment.

For more, read our paper “The Work Ahead in Banking: The Digital Road to Financial Wellness”.

Amit Anand is Vice President and North American Practice Leader for Cognizant Consulting’s Banking and Financial Services. Amit has 20 years of experience with firms such as Accenture, Infosys and Cognizant. He has successfully led and managed large business transformation, digital and IT transformation, and associated organizational change management for several financial services clients. Amit is a recognized thought leader with more than 15 publications on topics such as Open Banking, Digital 2.0 and new-age operating models. He can be reached at Amit.Anand@cognizant.com

Manish Bahl leads the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work in Asia-Pacific and the Middle East. A respected speaker and thinker, Manish has guided many Fortune 500 companies into the future of their business with his thought-provoking research and advisory skills. Within Cognizant’s Center for the Future of Work, he helps ensure that the unit’s original research and analysis jibes with emerging business-technology trends and dynamics in APAC, and collaborates with a wide range of leading thinkers to understand and predict how the future of work will take shape. He most recently served as Vice President, Country Manager with Forrester Research in India. He can be reached at Manish.Bahl@cognizant.com

Source: How Digital Makes Banks Flexible, Responsive And Intimate

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How Investing in Strategic Partnerships Can Help Grow Your Business

How Investing in Strategic Partnerships Can Help Grow Your Business

The best entrepreneurs understand the power of people. Whether thinking about accessible healthcare or, more broadly, startup success, collaboration and partnerships have always been vital, even before the pandemic strengthened the need for a collective approach.

Of course, for entrepreneurs looking to scale their business, cash is a critical piece of the puzzle. For obvious reasons, access to capital enables a business to grow, whether that’s investing in research and development (R&D), expanding overseas, or hiring top talent.

But capital shouldn’t be treated as a silver bullet. Instead, founders should turn their attention toward creating strong, strategic partnerships to drive business growth. Working with other established organisations builds credibility, allowing businesses to make further connections and expand their operations.

Entrepreneurs, though, should learn exactly how to unlock beneficial relationships that will ultimately set them up for long-term victory. Partnerships must be win-win and goals aligned so that everyone comes out as beneficiaries.

Why connections matter.

When executed wisely, strategic partnerships can foster business growth. With the potential to form a critical part of any growing business, these partnerships benefit startups and corporates alike. For large corporations, startups and scaleups can fuel innovation; for early-stage founders, big companies can enable fresh revenue, scaling possibilities and credibility.

With established partners come established networks. Existing knowledge, suppliers and customers can make selling products on a larger scale much easier to achieve. This empowers startups to scale quickly, with that revenue used to reinvest in operations and innovation, fuelling further growth and making it easier to establish new business relationships with a wider pool of organisations.

What’s also important, particularly if operating in a crowded space such as healthcare, is the potential for impact. Healthcare solutions – rightly or wrongly – are often judged by the number of patients using them. So, establishing key strategic partnerships – as we’ve done with Microsoft, Allianz and Portuguese healthcare provider Médis – provides an avenue to millions of patients.

Infermedica experimented with different business models, but eventually settled on a B2B strategy over B2C as we had the potential to reach more patients through a partnership network. This accelerated on our goal to bring more accessible healthcare to all. Strategic partnerships enable startups to quickly build credibility and cut through loud crowded markets.

Investor partnerships can play a role as well. Relationships don’t need to simply need to be between providers, but investors can bring knowledge, connections and consultancy which can help startups to overcome growing challenges and open doors that may otherwise remain closed until certain milestones around size, revenue and customers have been reached. What’s key is ensuring both sides remain committed to moving forward together.

How to unlock the opportunity.

But what’s the best way to go about creating these relationships? For founders, the first step to achieving this is to remember that although partnerships are sealed between companies, they’re created by people and that human connection has to be built first. Talk to the potential partner to understand what they are truly trying to achieve and how a partnership could help them solve it.

Similarly, founders must understand their own goals and what they need from any relationship to ensure they keep progressing towards it. When discussions are open and the people are looked after, great relationships are forged.

Developing a partner program at an early stage: creating a network of trusted resellers and innovative partners also allows entrepreneurs to explore opportunities in their immediate area and beyond. Indeed, European founders shouldn’t simply look within their own country or continent for partnerships, by looking further afield they open themselves up to new ways of thinking and opportunities.

Partner programs and ecosystems establish a feedback community, each organization provides feedback which improves each other’s offerings, leading to greater growth and credibility for all. This also drives thoughts around integration, how compatible one offering is with another to ensure it truly adds value in a real-world environment. Collaboration with partners enables entrepreneurs to see how their product fits into the bigger picture which fuels wider innovation.

For example, Infermedica’s partner program enables organizations from all aspects of healthcare to collaborate with us and access our AI technology, enhancing and diversifying services which offer better end-user outcomes. Of course, there is still some way to go and things will never stop evolving. The top SaaS companies have on average around 350 integrations as they understand all of the potential engagement points and are establishing ecosystems that reflect them. The key takeaway: when creating partner ecosystems, always keep in mind how an end-user could potentially interact with your offering.

Take your time.

As in life, building a long-last relationship takes a lot of time and effort. So, while it can be tempting to rush into an exciting partnership or program, it’s vital to take your time to build trust and establish clear boundaries. Drawing on our own experience, it took more than a year to establish partnerships with Microsoft and Allianz, and it’s an ongoing process of building mutual trust and finding new ways to collaborate.

Remember that there should be no A and B side in partnerships. Each party brings their own benefits to the table. Combining knowledge and resources makes the relationship greater than the sum of its parts, delivering greater value to customers, industry and economy.

At all times, specificity is key to success. Be sure that the partnership is truly feeding into your overall strategy and that you have all the necessary resources to support you on your journey. Plan it well and take your time. It’s a long-term strategy that requires patience, commitment and perseverance. Rome was not built in a day, but the foundations of a long lasting relationship could start tomorrow.

Keep your goals in mind and ensure you’re going into every conversation with completely open eyes because when you find those strategic connections that just work, the opportunity for growth is truly great.

By: Tomasz Domino / Chief Operating Officer, Infermedica

Source: How Investing in Strategic Partnerships Can Help Grow Your Business

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Critics:

A strategic partnership (also see strategic alliance) is a relationship between two commercial enterprises, usually formalized by one or more business contracts. A strategic partnership will usually fall short of a legal partnership entity, agency, or corporate affiliate relationship. Strategic partnerships can take on various forms from shake hand agreements, contractual cooperation’s all the way to equity alliances, either the formation of a joint venture or cross-holdings in each other.

Typically, two companies form a strategic partnership when each possesses one or more business assets or have expertise that will help the other by enhancing their businesses. This can also mean, that one firm is helping the other firm to expand their market to other marketplaces, by helping with some expertise.

According to Cohen and Levinthal a considerable in-house expertise which complements the technology activities of its partner is a necessary condition for a successful exploitation of knowledge and technological capabilities outside their boundaries. Strategic partnerships can develop in outsourcing relationships where the parties desire to achieve long-term “win-win” benefits and innovation based on mutually desired outcomes.

No matter if a business contract was signed, between the two parties, or not, a trust-based relationship between the partners is indispensable. One common strategic partnership involves one company providing engineering, manufacturing or product development services, partnering with a smaller, entrepreneurial firm or inventor to create a specialized new product. Typically, the larger firm supplies capital, and the necessary product development, marketing, manufacturing, and distribution capabilities, while the smaller firm supplies specialized technical or creative expertise.

References

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