Artificial intelligence is changing the business frontier, and dramatically impacting the office professional. The massive computing capabilities of artificial intelligence provides the means to create information from data in real-time. This in conjunction with empowered collaborating employees allows for real-time decision making. Leading beyond a competitive advantage to a business advantage. A business advantage can be likened to moving past the star quarter back to an entire team of stars.
Artificial intelligence helps people solve problems in today’s complex business world. Artificial intelligence is a set of technology tools made up of algorithms performing calculations on data sets to solve problems. Artificial intelligence provides the means to hyper focus on customers’ characteristics for and improved customer journey, in real-time. A familiar example, Facebook, using artificial intelligence, decides whether a news feed advertisement is appropriate based on the context of the user’s and friends’ posts and activities.
Artificial intelligence has the support of other disruptive technologies that culminate into the Fourth Industrial Revolution. This revolution is “characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres”, the World Economic Forum.
The entire conglomeration of the digital footprint such as applications, cloud computing, edge computing, artificial intelligence, hardware, RPA, and personal devices drives the change to the office professional. As the technology has revolutionized so must office professionals.
The revolutionized professional remains every company’s most important asset. Technology allows people to move away from repetitive tasks and silos and move to complex problem solving and innovation. Responsibilities are not a project or task. They are collaboration, problem-solving, innovation, and value creation within the digital platform ecosystem.
Being integral to a channel, employees are empowered which is materialized with governance embedded in the digital platform, and by the collaborative efforts upstream, downstream, and at intersections along the channels. Employees are responsible for achieving company goals with extensive liberty within a strictly defined digital platform.
As technology and professionals change, so does the collaboration with people to people; people to digital; and digital to digital. The collaborations are found in the end to end digital channels resulting in engagement with horizontal and vertical peers, and external customers. People’s collaboration is to add value, and not for collecting and manipulating data.
Sound judgement and decision-making are key professional attributes in a digital environment. Strategic goals embedded in an ethical culture provides a framework for direction in the deluge of data in the digital world. Companies’ cultures must have privacy and security at the forefront of all decisions.
Data moves to real-time information in an ecosystem of internal and external data, and touch points are evaluated continuously. Professionals must have a bird’s eye view on the digital channels and details, while remaining open to seeing the information from an experience first reference point. Breeding innovation.
Creating value becomes every professional’s goal in this new business model. The skills needed to create value are complex problem-solving, critical thinking, and ingenuity. This requires the ability to recognize patterns, anomalies, and relationships throughout the business model. Professionals become domain experts in the context of their company.
A new way of thinking is required in this new business model. This type of business model aggregates customers’ experiences and business processes into revenue. The result is accessibility of information, processes, and behaviors that lead to new solutions, higher performance levels, and innovation.
Change is required because technology is synonymous with continuous change, disruption, and competitive advantage. Historically, continuous change and disruption were negatives; and competitive advantage was limited. This revolution changes all of this. The disruptive technology provides opportunities for improved customers’ experiences and new profit pools in real-time.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution has arrived. Like all prior revolutions, businesses change. This has a ripple effect to people. The difference of this revolution is the direct impact to the white collar professional. Resulting in a new office professional emerging with the disruptive technology.
The office professional will “look and feel” completely different. A quick summation of this new professional is an empowered employee that works cohesively across the company’s ecosystem, internally and externally. Highlighting customer experience through data, and innovation.
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The Fourth Industrial Revolution, known as Industry 4.0, is a revolution in business. The following quote is about Industry 4.0, “45 percent of the activities individuals are paid to perform can be automated by adapting currently demonstrated technologies” quoted from McKinsey & Company and can be found here. These technologies exist and they are affordable. In addition, much of the technology is easily and quickly implemented without a heavy load on internal information technology (IT) departments. This combination of attributes paves the way for quick market acceptance.
For these technologies to function as intended, digitalization is required. Digitalization is the process of using digitized information to change business models and create value. In other words, digitalization is a digital environment (no paper) in which the information is used for analysis, innovation, value creation, operations, and office administration. It is not about replacing people.
Digital efforts must be at the forefront of customers’ and employees’ acquisition and retention experiences. The goal of each interaction is a frictionless experience regardless of how an interaction occurs. Singular interaction points are not robust enough for this scenario. Multichannel or omnichannel are.
Multichannel options offer interaction through multiple mediums (channels). For example, multichannel options are reflected in accessing offerings through multiple devices and locations.
Omnichannel options offer interaction through multichannel options plus more. These channel options allow for on-demand support and services. For example, omnichannel options are reflected in chatbots and live support by employees.
Digitalization goes beyond no paper and channels. It is everywhere; in a physical office, home office, co-working space, coffee shop, or park and can be across town, across country, or on the other side of the world. This expanse of digitalization in conjunction with the Internet of Things allows for an interconnected ecosystem of consumers, businesses, and regulators. A digital strategy is necessary to successfully maneuver through this intertwined global system.
A digital strategy is a component of an overall company strategy; and aligns with and supports the overall company strategy. Like an overall company strategy, a digital strategy is translated into components, and ultimately actionable steps. A strategy’s components are interlaced with all other components constructing an ecosystem.
Ecosystems have long been a topic of management conversation; however, companies historically have not succeeded in in creating a seamless ecosystem. The lack of historical success is rooted in technologies not being readily available and affordable. This is no longer an obstacle. The technology of Industry 4.0 is precipitating evolution of this holistic approach.
Components of a strategy and all sub strategies are vetted to translate into actionable steps. Within a digitalization strategy, there are four components.
The diagnostics process identifies the strengths, weakness, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) from conception of digitalization continuing through its infinite life. The SWOT analysis quantifies how and to what degree, identifies root causes, and formulates actions where needed. In addition, viewing the SWOT through the lens of innovation breeds value creation.
The operating model builds the framework consisting of the details of the industry, people, technologies, and operations. Operating models in Industry 4.0 promote the optimal collaboration of people and technology focusing on value creation through empowerment and experience.
Transformation mapping identifies the touch points along your processes including critical moments of truth that will make, or break, experiences, innovations, enhancements, and friction points, among other areas. When done correctly, transformation mapping will help leaders engage with the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
A digital workplace spans virtual and physical realms with the goal of enabling a seamless collaborative work environment. A truly digital workplace brings together people with devices, applications, data, mobility, and collaboration tools tailored to each employees’ responsibilities and preferences on persona-based models instead of single services.
A revolution by its very nature fundamentally changes business. Digitalization is a key component for success in this new revolution, Industry 4.0. Digitalization realizations will result from a correctly executed digital strategy.
Remain open to the new realities to realize competitive advantages. Throw out the way “it’s always been done” business. Accept these new realities to fully transform.
Much of the technology is easily and quickly implemented without a heavy load on internal information technology (IT) departments. New technologies are designed for the leadership along the value chain to do the “heavy lifting” and not the IT departments. This naturally aligns ownership with the new “heavy lifters”.
Interdisciplinary and inter-functional teams with an end-to-end view of impact are ideal for a digitalized reality. Understanding the digital journey through internal and external users lead to success within the new reality.
Change is to exist in a continuous form in companies. Project management and re-engineering disciplines are not designed to grasp a digital ecosystem. Transformation using these techniques won’t happen one day with the flip of a switch. Instead, project management and re-engineering are incorporated into every employees’ daily job functions allowing for continuous change.
Technology has brought about an experience first expectation and as technology continues to expand so does the expectation. Like technology, this expectation isn’t limited to customers only. As customers, everyone has become accustomed to experience first. For business, this translates to experience first for customers, employees, suppliers, and other stakeholders – anyone that interacts with the company.
Each of these new realities will emerge from the digitalization transformation. A lack of evidence of these realities is indicative of not truly transforming, but instead creating digital documents and still “pushing paper” in a digital form.
A digitalization strategy is made up of four components and each component is fundamental. New digital realities emerge with a successful digitalization strategy. Lack of evidence of these new realities is indicative of not truly transforming.
Digitalization is a first step in experience first with a goal of frictionless interactions. A digital strategy is designed as a component of the overall strategy with collaboration across all other sub strategies and their components. Digitalization is a key component of success in Industry 4.0.
Chief Market Creation and Compliance Officer