Recently, NASSCOM organized an event under GCC conclave 2021, to discuss the art of combining human collaboration and talent with data and digital platforms. The event was titled “Building a Bionic Organization: Human Creativity with Technology” where my colleague from IBM, Mayur Ghurki, was empaneled to provide a service provider’s point of view. This article is a reflection of my thoughts on the topic.
While the term “Bionic organization” is not new, different companies and thought leaders may have slightly different interpretations; for a while, let us understand this as a symbiotic relationship between humans and machines where both work together for the greater good of the parent organization. The term “machine” here encompasses computers, the software robots and the information systems.
AI and ML have come a long way since Watson’s triumph in Jeopardy, with a plethora of companies providing a variety of solutions. There is one more change that has slowly been making its way into corporations, and that is automation.
Smarter processes make use of both – analytics and automation, to accomplish repeatable, reliable, better and faster results. A pairing of these solutions helps process and product owners to better understand the correlation between key stakeholders’ needs and actions, to provide consistent high-quality services, to detect and prevent frauds, to expedite actions and ease business transactions (amongst many other advantages). The economic gains easily justify the investments.
The drive to digitalize processes is also linked to COVID, which has impacted business-as-usual by constraining cross-border as well as local mobility. It has created a stronger demand for unshackling tasks from strong grip of in-office and manual processes.
There is a boost in demand for cloud based solutions, (that have been gaining popularity over the last few years) as they are frequently updated, offer the latest in technology (ML, AI, IoT, Blockchain etc), are accessible from anywhere and pass on economies of scale advantages to customers. The solution providers not only facilitate fast transactions from anywhere, have great backup and disaster management solutions, but have also worked upon integrating disparate enterprise systems through cloud platforms. Most of these solutions strive to consolidate requisite data from myriad sources, present the information in a meaningful way and leverage the data for automatic process flow.
These changes have had a direct impact on inhouse centers in India and other countries. The inhouse centers are backbone of backend as well as customer facing transactions that are secure, meet the quality standards, are reliable, optimized for cost, conducted at scale, and executed at speed. There is a significant pressure from stakeholders to catalogue the services, to be transparent about costs, to drive down costs, to uplift the performance and reliability of business processes – in order to meet internal and external customer expectations.
Companies are on their journey to becoming bionic organizations – one process at a time. As an example, when more and more end consumers are getting used to highly competitive ecommerce platforms, process owners are obliged to offer right product or service at the right price and offer consumption at a time that is convenient to the customer. Under the circumstances, pricing plays a very important role in meeting customer demand at a profitable price point; a situation that is ripe for deploying a bionic process.
Some companies are better prepared than others in meeting today’s requirements because they anticipated this trend five years or earlier. These companies have been building their skill pool accordingly, and also used a mix of inhouse, contracted or outsourced resources. As one of the panelists mentioned, it is not possible or practical to do everything inhouse. Companies with time bound transformation agenda have to work with vendors to cater to the business needs.
There may have been a sense of competition between inhouse centers and service providers in the past but the time is ripe to revise the views. Today, when there is intense competition for limited talent pool with required skills, inhouse centers must collaborate with service providers to deliver transformation at speed. With collaboration, inhouse centers can better deliver on the ever expanding scope of value added services to their parent ‘bionic’ organization.