In contrast to the popular belief that technologies such as AI are going to leave skilled and unskilled workers high and dry, recent research into the effects of automation indicate it can lead to increased demand, creating new job opportunities.
But without the right enterprise building blocks in place your organisation will not be able to absorb the new technologies seamlessly or capitalise on their potential for increased productivity. Shining a light on your current data governance, business process consistency, and system integration and connectivity is critical.
Data is the new oil
Data enables you to understand, automate and predict what will happen in your business. But to do that it needs to be liberated. Currently, too many organisations have data locked in unusable silos. Gaining a good understanding of where your data is, how accurate it is and prioritising it based on its value to the business is essential.
Adopting a sound data governance approach that ensures once you have your data sorted you can maintain it into the future is the first step to turning your systems of record into system of analysis and making them capable of performing more advanced processing.
Same way, every day
Equally important is ensuring consistency across your enterprise. By building consistently repeatable ways of working you develop a dependable baseline on top of which you can more easily automate and innovate. If, for example, your enterprise wants to introduce automation into its accounts payable process it is important that each of your offices executes its AP processes the same way.
Business process consistency reduces rework and cuts down on time spent understanding how different parts of the business do similar tasks. It can also reduce cost and improve worker portability and role transferability.
Start by mapping your key business processes and gain an understanding of the areas that will give you the most return and value. If you can automate those areas, productivity improvements will lead to better competitive advantage. But be careful. Start simple. Don’t begin by trying to automate your most complex business process areas. Work incrementally so you can improve and refine as you go.
Get your systems linked
To truly benefit from cutting edge technologies your enterprise needs to be connected at the system level. Integration between key line of business systems is necessary to automate processes from beginning to end and to allow the automation to take place regardless of the enabling system.
It also helps to reduce data re-entry and reduces the risk of error. If, for example, your enterprise doesn’t have real time connections between its front-end website and back office inventory system it will be difficult to accurately fulfil customer orders, match supply with demand, or react quickly to new market opportunities. Any failure to meet customer expectations will hurt satisfaction levels, driving customers to a competing business.
In my next post I will argue that CIOs need to take a leadership role in navigating the complexity of change. They are in a unique position to communicate across multiple disciplines within the enterprise, and foster understanding within the workforce about the opportunities and benefits new technologies can afford.