Platform-based Digital Workflows Lead the Way

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In the Business Case for Remote Work study released on January 12 this year, Global Workplace Analytics quantified the benefits of remote work. Results show that if 48 million American employees work from home 2.5 days a week, each employee can save $3,000 a year. This includes the cost of the time they spend commuting and subtracts the expenses they will incur from the remote work arrangement. Employers will also benefit, saving almost $11,000 per employee per year or a total of $500 billion a year for 48 million employees.

These numbers include savings from increased productivity, reduced office space, more agility, less absenteeism, and lower turnover. They also include costs employers incur to support remote work, such as setting up a home office which amounts to only $670 per employee per year. Society and the environment will likewise benefit from the setup. There will be 80,000 fewer traffic accidents with related injuries or deaths. The savings in greenhouse gas emissions will be equal to removing all of New York’s workforce from the roads for a year.

By now, many companies have agreed with their employees that a hybrid remote working arrangement is best. Global Workplace Analytics predicts that by the end of 2021, about a fourth to a third of employees in the workforce will be working from home several days a week.

Rapid Digital Adoption

Many companies were forced to shift their employees to remote work due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This, plus the pandemic-spurred changes in consumer needs, expectations, and demand for online purchases of goods and services, forced companies to make exponential leaps in digital adoption. According to a McKinsey Global Survey in October 2020, changes that happened during the period are most likely to stay even after the pandemic.

Companies increased remote collaboration among employees and teams. Digital assets were increasingly migrated to the cloud for remote access, which called for increased data security investment. The use of advanced technologies also increased for operations and business decision-making.

The survey found that companies that invested more in new digital technologies during the pandemic were twice as likely to report high revenue growth than other companies. In these companies, 38 percent believed that investing more in technology leads to a competitive advantage, 30 percent believed that it is necessary to modernize core technological capabilities to keep up with the competition, and 19 percent want to refocus their entire business on digital technologies.

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The Digital Workflow Platform

Forbes Technology Council Member Babu Sivadasan notes that some companies that adopted standalone automation ended up having more problems. This is because they had standalone systems to address different processes, which were often incompatible. Their outputs were difficult to reconcile and synthesize. Also, as the companies grew and the number of processes increased, the standalone automation systems may not have been able to catch up with the increasing exceptions to rules. These standalone systems are mostly not scalable.

Sivadasan instead recommends intelligent automation that is agile and scalable, such as a platform-based digital workflow. A platform is functional, scalable, and ready for integration. It can include artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and natural language processing (NLP), enabling them to work together with automation and to learn as they go. The platform can be expanded as needed without having to discard the initial investment. It also enables visibility of all processes and, thus, better governance.

With a digital workflow platform, there will be no duplication of efforts. Users can pull in data generated from various processes to see trends in graphs and analyze these to come up with insights vital to decision-making. Automated notifications can be set up between processes, such as between sales, inventory, manufacturing or procurement, and accounting.

Implementation and Personnel Upskilling

However, this is a huge leap for a business, and it is best to get help from professionals. For instance, a ServiceNow implementation specialist can help ease the transformation of the company. If a full-scale implementation is not yet feasible, the specialist can help identify the priority processes.

It will also be necessary to train current employees in the usage of a digital workflow platform. This will be welcomed by most employees. A survey by FlexJobs during the pandemic shows that among 2,181 respondents, 86 percent took it upon themselves to gain professional or skills development. Among them, 51 percent took online courses. They fully understand the importance of continual learning for career growth. Offering such training can even attract better talent to join the company as employees are now looking for better opportunities.

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