My colleague, Paul O’Hara, published an excellent article on LinkedIn titled “Don’t Overlook The Back Office!”. Paul explores the importance of connecting the front office to the back office and breaking down corporate silos to create a single view of the customer and a more streamlined and seamless organization.
Paul’s vision is focused on streamlining the internal barriers that prevent, or slow down, information sharing inside organizations. This is something I have been considering a lot recently as well.
Digital transformation is often presented as a path to the future. Many executives draw up digital transformation plans that take so long to execute that their goal is redundant by the time they reach the planned “future state.” My friends over in Scotland have an expression: “It’s like painting the Forth Bridge!” The Forth Bridge is so long that once the painters reach one end, they have to begin again at the other. That’s precisely how some transformation projects feel. They never end.
But in this post-pandemic business environment, many companies need agility. It’s essential to embrace digital advances and explore new solutions now, rather than just planning transformation for the future. Many executives need a more tactical solution that allows them to make changes with fewer risks. Not all organizations were built in the cloud era and are still dependent on the infamous “green screen” legacy systems, which manage a lot of their back-end operations. One can take the route to rip apart the complete technology landscape and build from scratch, but not only is that time-consuming but also highly expensive. The intelligent solution is to use “bolt-on” solutions, which work in parallel with your existing applications while providing improved efficiency and experience at a much lower cost.
In our organization, we have taken our own medicine. Intelligent automation is now used to help empower our agents. Robots (via Robotic Process Automation or RPA) execute many tasks on behalf of our agents and the customers they are speaking to. For instance, placing an order or transferring information from one system to another.
Using this approach within our own company, we have seen how it is possible to enhance productivity and accuracy in many different manual processes. Just imagine how much more accurate an agent can be if data that previously had to be transferred from one screen to another literally by cutting and pasting can now be transferred automatically. Intelligent automation also reduces the handling time for calls, so customers are served faster, with improved accuracy that can only lead to more satisfied customers.
But the critical point here is that we use the intelligent application of RPA to improve existing systems and processes. Of course, sometimes, your system may not be fit for purpose or unable to function in the present environment. Naturally, that does call for a complete transformation to a new system. Still, there are many instances where the intelligent application of some automation tools can dramatically improve your legacy systems and processes.
Banks are a good example. They are filled with legacy technology that is often very difficult to update at the system level because it is hard to find system engineers and coders familiar with code that may have been designed decades ago. Airlines and many government departments face a similar challenge. During this pandemic, there has been a high demand for COBOL programmers and mainframe support experts because some of these older systems just had to change, like when the US government passed the CARES Act and tried sending a direct cash payment to all citizens.
There are several ways in which intelligent automation can be applied to existing legacy systems. Intelligent automation can give your operations an immediate boost and a chance to step back and plan how an ongoing process of broader transformation may work. For example:
- Helping to improve smooth remote operations
- Reducing the time to implement new solutions
- No change required to existing systems
- Freeing up employee time to focus on other tasks
- Helping to improve resilience, post-pandemic
All these benefits can be achieved quickly and without needing to transition from your legacy systems. By applying tools such as Machine Learning to RPA, even an existing system can be transformed. Before heading down the lengthy and risky route of a digital change program, why not consider the options for modernizing what you already have with intelligent automation?
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About the author: Pankaj is the Chief Transformation Officer for Teleperformance CEMEA. He has dual masters in Computer Science & Management and is a Six Sigma Blackbelt, with keen interest in Analytics and Design Thinking