A fresh recipe for digital-driven work innovation

The way many organizations work is well suited to a world that no longer exists. Forward thinkers understand that to operate effectively in the new world of extreme global uncertainty and ever-changing hyper-demand requires much greater work agility, speed and capacity. Clearly, changes are needed – and they’re needed fast. The problem for most organizations is that work is burdened with increasingly constrained human and technological resources. Think slow inefficient processes, siloed data, disconnected legacy IT infrastructure and humans needlessly processing work as ‘middleware’ – and you get the picture.  

Every organization can do more, even those that believe they’re digitally mature. In fact, ever greater numbers are trying to solve work problems by applying robotic process automation (RPA) technologies, but use this powerful capability, tactically and in isolation. This has limited the scope of what they can achieve, so they’ve only generated limited, small scale, results. The real key to success is about finding the right balance of human and technology capabilities. 

 News ways to digitally enhance work 

Some years ago, we examined technology and industry trends and quickly realized that the future would be automated, with RPA’s exciting promise of enabling more work to be done much faster and better – with less. We quickly realized that the key to working better involves strategically applying a combination of RPA and AI ingredients as a recipe to liberate the best from humans, technologies and data – and then unleash this combined potential across enterprise operations. 

We also realized that to address their actual goals or problems, at pace and on a greater scale, organizations needed to start with defining a human intelligence strategy. We’re talking about blending the best of human, AI, RPA, systems intelligence and data as a single capability to then be conceived, conceptualized and delivered as ‘enhanced work’ solutions. We call it the ‘Connected Intelligence’ model and this uniquely innovative approach releases major commercial value in months – rather than years. 

This model works in the following interdependent ways. RPA runs smart software robots to provide a rapid processing function, performing joined up, data-driven, work– and at an unmatched speed, accuracy and integrity – 24×7. Artificial intelligence, in its true sense, is there too: prioritizing work, solving unstructured data issues, mitigating risk, enriching insights, improving decision-making – while informing process and actions to solve a wider range of work problems. 

So what about the humans? Their role is to assist when technology reaches its limit, by using those innate skills that their ‘virtual’ counterparts can’t offer. We’re not only talking about training, managing and interacting with robots, but making critical judgements, applying insights from process automation data to continually improve work, spending more time with customers, serving them faster, enhancing their experiences, problem solving and innovating to drive growth. 

So, instead of trying to replace one form of intelligence – normally, the expensive human form – with a lower-cost form, this model connects them. This is where the greatest opportunities lie, using each form of intelligence to its best effect. The key success factor is not just picking one and excluding others, but blending them within a work process or solution, identifying the right form of combined, complimentary intelligence, to use at the right time, for the right reason. We’re talking about being strategic and evaluating ‘value’ based on the outcome.

 Enhanced work in action 

So what’s this new way of working actually delivering? As well as swiftly achieving vast time resource and capital savings, organizations are experiencing greater operational agility, performance, efficiencies and competitive advantage. They can redistribute and upscale human and financial resources to deploy new customer-centric activities that boost stakeholders’ experiences too. These outcomes are being delivered at unprecedented speed – even throughout COVID-19 lock-down and even via remote working too. Here’s what this success actually looks like in practice.

One competitive advantage that we identified for a debt collection agency was around using natural language programming (NLP) to detect vulnerability. We also suggested they invest in analysts to create new training programs around adapting their behavior based on emotional insights. This means more staff delivering empathetic calls and spending more time with people exploring options – rather than a “computer says no” rule based approach.  Crucially, we found the cost savings to fund these additional resources elsewhere in the business. 

An energy company challenged us to help it become an “AI first” utilities operator. We’ve created a range of tools that allow their customers to serve themselves, including a highly effective self-service onboarding solution and the ability to send in photos of the meter for up-to-date readings. These services have enabled this relative newcomer to rank in the top 20 energy suppliers on TrustPilot. 

For an SME loans company, we deployed a new portal for customers to submit applications. This is enabled using RPA as the integration layer to back office systems.  RPA robots receive a digital receipt from the portal and retrieve information from unstructured bank statements, statement of accounts, company history and credit reports. Robots continue to perform KYC and credit checks, while machine learning runs a series of checks to scrutinize the data, such as fraud indicators, and presents a “Red, Amber, Green” insights dashboard to a human for assessment. 

This results in staff better understanding the reasons behind certain flags and when liaising with clients, they can accept or reject cases with clear explanations. This also triggers a robot to transfer the final decision and existing data to the company’s core line of business systems. This ‘enhanced’ work process has already generated a 2 hour saving per application, while achieving the benefits of reduced risk, greater operational efficiency, service consistency and accuracy. 

Final thoughts  

Looking ahead, we’ll see more organizations experiencing the rewards of collaborative, digital work innovation. They’ll achieve this by adopting a ‘Connected Intelligence’ model approach that blends AI, RPA, humans, data – all underpinned by an enterprise software development mindset. 

There are technology partners that can help solve these challenges, so look for one with a proven track record of advancing and applying cutting-edge digital innovation as a single capability to conceive, conceptualize and deliver ‘enhanced work’ solutions. This multi-faceted approach will be the key success factor in achieving new, previously unimagined, almost unlimited work possibilities – that not only deliver commercial growth, but also support human growth in our increasingly digital age.

Craig John, technical director, Codebase8

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