In the last two years, business processes have undergone a tectonic shift, and research suggests that change is now a permanent part of the enterprise operations framework. For instance, PwC found that for 60% of executives, digital transformation is their top priority in 2022. For 77%, it is hiring and retaining top talent. Improving supply chain resilience, increasing agility, and constantly developing new products/services are key goals — all of which hinge on a keen focus on process change.
In this regard, ten trends will shape business processes over the next few months, tiding organisations across a period of potential economic turmoil and providing a competitive advantage once on the other side. These trends include:
1. Increasing automation of business processes
Gone are the days when a large team and a massive, multi-locational workforce were an indicator of scale. Today, companies want to do more with less, leveraging automation for as many tasks as possible. Processes once handled by human executives, such as accounts payable or employee onboarding, will rely on automation in 2022–23. Not only will this save costs, but it will also decrease non-compliance risks. However, it begs the question: What is the right balance between intelligent machines and human intelligence? What roles are given to machines, i.e., slow thinking processes can be best managed by humans while fast thinking processes are assigned to devices? However, counter-intuitive actions are played in cybersecurity business processes where engines can best discover slow thinking or penetration vulnerabilities. Automation will affect every industry, so the nature of work will change; thus, business leaders must prepare their organisations.
2. Centralised business process management systems
Centralisation is the first step to scalable transformation, and it is a must-have in a remote-working world. Fortunately, the democratisation of app building and low code tools allows companies of any size to build and deploy business process centralisation systems quickly. For example, citizen developers can develop tailored strategies backed by unique knowledge of processes in specific business units or departments. Customer engagements in the recent past have become more centralised, leading to the evolution of how we interact with our customers. For example, banks have seen reduced growth opportunities in wealth management. Still, they have seen growth in lending, thus driving more automation in wealth management processes, whereas the lending business has seen an increase in employee face time. However, each company depends on how they solve the centralisation challenge, and where digital transformation is the one solution. Rapid change during the pandemic and new challenges necessitates optimising companies’ business processes.
3. Incorporating case management
Case management allows enterprises to make room for complex and unpredictable expectations in their business process workflows. It incorporates human intervention and the occasional “judgment call” with structured processes and fixed frameworks. Through case management, there is always a human in the loop to flag exceptions, accommodate divergence/variance, and support ongoing operations.
4. Processes to achieve net zero
An important priority when designing business processes in the next few quarters will be to focus on one’s environmental bottom line. Already, there are serious conversations around the circular economy, with the onus on enterprises and governments to work together and eventually achieve net zero operations. In addition, the effects of climate change and other environmental compliances are required to incorporate to make both “conscientious and cost-effective” sense.
5. The rise of the chief processing officer
The chief process officer (CPO) role has become increasingly popular in the last five years. The CPO oversees business process management and execution, always looking to generate value from business activities. In addition, the CPO will drive home the importance of fine-tuning processes at the C-level and help make fewer retrospective decisions. CPOs possess a unique skill set to serve as change agents. Their skills enable them to serve as integrators and influencers across managerial ranks and corporate functions. However, in the recent past, Chief Data Officer and Chief Digital officers have replaced Chief Processing Officer leading to gaps in knowledge and adoption. In my study and analysis, as case management tools are adopted, it demands full-time role holders to make the processes lean and efficient as new products & services as a defensive strategy to handle the digital disruptors.
6. The need for specialised outsourcing
Interestingly, the rise of technologies and tools will not do away with business process outsourcing (BPO) altogether. Instead, it will birth a new kind of demand, where companies expect their BPO partners to be well-versed in the latest technologies, systems, and process efficiency enablers. In 2022–23, this could slightly blur the lines between a BPO and an MSP partner.
7. Secure business processes and regular audits
Today, virtually no business process is completely decoupled from data. Unfortunately, this also makes each essential process into an unavoidable attack vector. That is why the need for built-in security and regular audits will increase with the level of process digitisation. Companies may work with third-party process consultants to ensure their current systems are up-to-date and institute a system of internal audits.
8. Cloud-based business processes
The cloud impacts nearly every aspect of enterprise operations; the same applies to business processes. For example, they may connect with the cloud for data sources to make automated decisions. Or, they may have cloud-based interfaces readily accessible from any device, in any location, to support remote process management.
9. Strengthening relationships
I was a student of C. K. Prahalad and Venkat Ramaswamy, and they developed the concept of Co-creation being a strategic value source by publishing a scientific article in the Harvard Business Review (2000). They created this concept with empiric research and published it. They further developed the idea in the famous book The Future of Competition (2004) which focuses on value creation by bringing the producer of goods & services with the consumer.
However, co-creation is not the same as open innovation. As described, a co-creation process is a collective process of production and development. Each party represents their perspective, attempting to sustainably fulfil as many consumer interests as possible in the production process. In today’s terms, it is about the API economy and seamless integration between systems. For example, during the pandemic, health researchers, health institutions, labs, the pharmaceutical industry, and government bodies came together to develop vaccines. The new, post-pandemic era of business processes is marked by more tight-knit relationships between an enterprise and its vendors. The last two years demonstrated how crucial supply chain resilience is for business continuity and that no process is “an island.” To achieve this, companies must adopt proactive measures, such as API integration and vendor portals, to ensure timely payments and incentives/financial systems that add value to partners.
10. Processes will hinge on collaborative design
Finally, collaborative design is a top business process trend in 2022–23. It is because remote and hybrid work has spotlighted collaboration as a proactive, mindful activity. Companies can extract value from their business processes and design through cooperation and collaboration, keeping everyone’s needs in mind. It will also go a long way in aiding diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
In the modern enterprise, process and change go hand in hand, and neither can take a back seat. As a result, companies can expect several curveballs on the road ahead, from the “Great Resignation” to possibilities of a recession and post-pandemic opportunities and challenges. A robust system of processes — that is structured yet flexible — will be vital to seeing through this period. Would you agree? Join the conversation by commenting below. Or you can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.