Digital business

For 2018: Top 5 Practical Insights to achieve Digital Business

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Framing the digital business journey

"Skip the hype - digital business is about change, plain and simple" Sitting down this week with CEO Rob McGillen, founder of Practically Digital, we ask his insights that business leaders should understand on digital business and transformation. 

"Digital means something different to every person, and every company" observes Rob McGillen.   "Many times, tech companies and consulting firms are sharing digital visions about the future 3 years from now - without any clarity on what you can do now to get to that future.     

We see it differently.  Working across industries, we sense clear business trends and digital investments that make a major difference.  That is what we focus on with our clients - finding better choices and helping them on the digital journey now."

2 years on, business is growing rapidly for Practically Digital.  Part of the growth success is the intentional focus of Practically Digital's services: 

  Practically Digital:  Focusing on digitizing the business processes that matter

Practically Digital: Focusing on digitizing the business processes that matter

"Many companies are daunted by digital 'moonshots' which take years and millions to achieve.  These big bets are risky and impact growth. " shares Rob.  "Our focus at Practically Digital is to help digitize the common business practices all companies face.   

This approach helps build confidence, delivers incremental value quickly, develops change skills on digital business, and establish a 'digital first' eco-system for the business.   When everyone is thinking and working digital - it is much easier to go for the moon, and much less cost and time."

 

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the top trends in digital business that make the difference

Looking across all of the clients and talking with hundreds of business leaders, we see the following 5 trends making a difference:

1) Stay hyper focused on the digital / real world customer.  The customer experience remains key, and needs to be continuously aligned with.   Journey mapping the customer experience (B2B or B2C) across your real world and digital touch points with your brand and service / solutions makes a major difference as you adopt digital solutions.  Bring those touch points and insights back to a cloud based CRM / relationship system.    

2) Digital Sales Enablement is the secret weapon to digital growth.  Digital marketing and social media are 'table stakes' activities - you need to do it, your brand absolutely needs the visibility, and- it has become a commodity.   Digital Sales Enablement - integration of 'facilitated sales platforms' and CRM solutions is becoming the major capability that companies can leverage to increase sales and growth.    

3) Artificial Intelligence has reached a maturity stage, where smaller players who are specializing and partnering.  You will see A.I. embedded in over 1/3 of your products and platforms in the the course of the next 24 months.   It is now found in part on chips in the newest iPhones, and more importantly - the cloud-enabled platforms are embedding and making possible for customer service, sales support and analytics, relationship builds with customers, and even tailored customer intake processes.  

4) Robotic process automation (RPA) is ready for the prime time.  As more companies are struggling with outsourcing (either visas, quality, or contract renewals) - the alternative that is now commercially viable is RPA.  Over 20 solution providers now exist in this space, and you will see the major consulting companies and outsourcing / system integrators will be offering this as a strong / lower cost alternative to the traditional BPO / ITO solution.  Get ahead on this curve and decide which makes sense for your company.   

5) Digital collaboration platforms (with video and content targeting and sharing)  that work on mobile are becoming a major supercharger for corporate speed and decision making, and engaging field / remote team members with a core corporate center.  We are finding companies who leverage these new generation are finally making a difference in the area of collaboration.   

 

A final insight from Rob McGillen. "These 5 digital activities are not hard efforts to rapidly prototype and bring online if a company is ready to make the journey.  The right thing to do is tackle one or more of these initiates together that enhance the collective value to the company. 

If you want to engage the customer better - focus on Sales, Marketing, transactions.  If you want to improve efficiency and growth within - collaboration and video engagement are great choices.   It depends on your business goals now and next. 

The key point is 'don't wait' for the digital moonshot opportunity.  Be practical and get moving! "

*  *  *  *

To learn how Practically Digital can help your company on digital transformation and capabilities you might consider, get in touch!

7 Digital Investments for 2018 every company should consider

 By Rob McGillen

By Rob McGillen

A frequent question I have been ask lately "What are the leading digital trends for the year ahead?"   Through dialogs with customers, business and technology leaders, and reviewing dozens of independent surveys and reports - Below is a list of 7 digital innovations for 2018 which we feel will make a difference.  

#1 - Artificial Intelligence.  The ability to leverage A.I. is already an industry differentiator - and knowing where and how to start is key.  Three strong steps to help you get started: Understand the differences between RPA, autonomics, machine learning, and cognitive computing solutions.   Understand how your enterprise provider of ERP and CRM is either delivering - or intends to deliver for use in their platform.  And decide how your employees and customers will engage with the experience ahead.  

#2 - Augmented reality (and audio engagement) and how to successful leverage for customers.  Beyond the possibilities of virtual real estate walk thrus or ordering soap replacements from Amazon- which parts of your business and customer services become vastly different when augmented or voice enabled.   Consider how the customer experience can change (and their expectations most certainly will) - and aim for where the hockey puck is going in your industry.   

#3 - IoT and edge based computing capabilities.   IoT has become mainstream, smart cities are leading the way - and analyzing and acting on the data flowing insights is optimally done at the edge (think hybrid cloud / solutions that act on real time streams like traffic flow through an airport, but do not require a 'home run' for analysis and reporting to a corporate data center).  What is your ability to act on the possibilities of the IoT / cloud edge solutions that are now available? 

#4 - Blockchain and effective distributed trust based solutions.   As more companies and industries get their head around distributed trust - blockchain will disrupt many existing 'trust and verify' processes and businesses.  Industries (think banking, logistics, manufacturing) which rely on extreme accuracy and precision of information (and have regulatory implications) - are already moving on these innovations.  What are you doing to ensure your place in the blockchain revolution? 

#5 - Dark analytics and Insights.  Sounds like Star Wars stuff.  This is life after Big Data - focusing on the insights that make a difference found in the information previously so vast or complex it was not link-able to the bigger business picture. Now it is.   The questions and answers to be found will grow exponentially in the year ahead - and combined with an A.I. solution to help surface - you will be leading (or lagging) your pack.

#6 - Pick a better cloud platform / partner (again).  As all of the major players have put out their strategies and new solutions for the year - making choices between Microsoft, Amazon, Google, IBM, and Salesforce becomes a major business / partnership choice for the year+ ahead.  Microsoft in particular has stepped up their offerings and capabilities with Azure.  Take more than a few minutes to study the options.  The pricing.  The value added services and eco-systems.  It is going to make a big difference if your business relies on integrations to maximize value in the business.  

#7 - Lastly, information security and real time risk management automation.  This needs to be on every company's 'deal with asap' list - automation and management / talent to address the continuous war on information.   As more information security providers are embracing and offering automated solutions, companies will need to have a clear (and continuously updated) picture of risk and response to ensure their stakeholders and employees / customers of optimal security operations.    The days of 'once a year' security audits and response lists are behind - real time and autonomous is where companies need to be today. 

While not exhaustive - the 7 above are a strong place to start in digital innovation for 2018.  Curious to learn more about these solutions and and how they are part of a digital business in the new year - get in touch! 

Digital Labor and RPA: Part 3 in our services on RPA benefits and better practices

 Blog post by Don Sweeney (don.sweeney@practicallydigital.net)

Blog post by Don Sweeney (don.sweeney@practicallydigital.net)

Key steps to a Successful RPA Implementation

In June 2017 , the Institute for Robotic Process Automation and Artificial Intelligence (IRPA-AI) conducted a study of business technology leaders in more than 22 industries and 40 countries, which showed that digital automation has become part of almost every process and industry in the world.

But where—and how—does RPA fit into this? While RPA can drive a lot of process efficiencies and cost savings, it also can be a huge financial undertaking that requires a lot of change management.

So, how can your organization be sure it’s implementing RPA where it will be most beneficial to the bottom line instead of just using technology for technology’s sake?

In this third post of the three-part blog series on RPA, we are going to talk about how businesses can ensure a successful RPA implementation and what to consider prior to rollout.

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Making RPA work right: Identifying the right processes for RPA

The IRPA-AI survey noted that the processes most ripe for RPA are typically in shared services organizations – areas where there’s a lot of repetition and well-defined processes but also a lot of human intervention.

Surveyed companies specifically called out financial processes as the most common processes they planned to automate in the future. RPA can help improve financial processes by automating expense receipts, collections, approval workflows and some standard reporting.

The second most common area prime for RPA mentioned in the survey is Human Resources (HR). RPA can enable HR staff to rapidly track timesheets, store documents, calculate benefits, and issue on-boarding information to employees. 

Finally, the survey also mentioned procurement as another target area for RPA influence. The automated approval of requisitions and invoice processing can significantly help reduce human intervention in procurement processes. Not only can organizations reduce costs and gain efficiencies by using RPA for procurement, but they also can improve the vendor management process with more communication and better expected planning.

RPA priorities: Narrowing the field

There are other areas in which RPA can fit as well, including high-volume and high-frequency activities, repetitive, transactional activities, data-intensive activities, rule-based activities (interrogation of data, tax and compliance), tasks that pull data from disparate systems, and activities with standardization opportunities.

While there’s a host of processes that could benefit from RPA, organizations should evaluate them each separately to determine how they can ensure a successful implementation for each one.   Before diving in and making any RPA project a reality, consider these suggestions:

  • Define “transformation” before thinking about the tools. Technology does not solve the problem. It’s the vehicle to get you to the solution. Would you select building materials before designing the house?
  • Define automation objectives – e.g. headcount cost reduction, improving productivity, accelerating financial reporting cycles, redeploying resources to higher-value activities, enabling the organization to bring roles back onshore while maintaining an efficient cost structure, or improving compliance and controls.
  • Establish the right governance. To accelerate transformation, an organization will need to expand automation in a managed and thoughtful manner and not just as a series of separate projects. With this in mind, it is useful to plan and work in concert with business-led, end-to-end process improvement initiatives.
  • Plan for transformation. Change Management is key for any RPA implementation. Considerations should include changes to job design, roles, capabilities and skills required.
  • Conduct a pilot to demonstrate and prove out your RPA thesis of value.   This can be helpful for understanding the effort required to program and run the tool and the impact on resources.

Alignment and sponsorship: gaining executive—and employee--buy-in for the RPA journey

 Once your organization has begun a RPA implementation, it’s essential to show ROI beyond cost savings to ensure you gain buy-in from both executives and employees for future projects.

You can do so by identifying and quantifying opportunities for how RPA can be used in revenue-generating activities in addition to cost-saving or compliance activities. Don't just focus on RPA’s ability to reduce labor costs as its only benefit. Carefully set expectations of what the tools can do and how your organization can use them to support automation in an overall digital transformation strategy.

You also can identify other processes that touch multiple systems across the enterprise that could benefit from a nonintrusive approach to automation. Evaluate RPA opportunities where you have people acting as "swivel chair integration" — rekeying data between systems — and where they’re performing work that involves structured, digitalized data processed by predefined rules. This analysis forms the basis for your enterprise automation roadmap.

Lastly, identify alternative existing tools or services which have most of your required functionality at a suitable price point and evaluate these solutions in parallel with RPA, or as a hybrid solution. Also keep an eye on future artificial-intelligence-based options to ensure your organization chooses the right technology for each future automation project! 

 

As always, please reach out if you have questions, comments or concerns about RPA. We appreciate your feedback!   

5 Practical Insights to achieve Digital Business

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Making a digital difference for companies ready to skip the hype.

Sitting down this week with CEO Rob McGillen, founder of Practically Digital, we ask his insights that business leaders should understand on digital business and transformation. 

"Digital means something different to every person, and every company" observes Rob McGillen.   "Many times, tech companies and consulting firms are sharing digital visions about the future 3 years from now - without any clarity on what you can do now to get to that future.     

We see it differently.  Working across industries, we sense clear business trends and digital investments that make a major difference.  That is what we focus on with our clients - finding better choices and helping them on the digital journey now."

2 years on, business is growing rapidly for Practically Digital.  Part of the growth success is the intentional focus of Practically Digital's services: 

  Practically Digital:  Focusing on digitizing the business processes that matter

Practically Digital: Focusing on digitizing the business processes that matter

"Many companies are daunted by digital 'moonshots' which take years and millions to achieve.  These big bets are risky and impact growth. " shares Rob.  "Our focus at Practically Digital is to help digitize the common business practices all companies face.   

This approach helps build confidence, delivers incremental value quickly, develops change skills on digital business, and establish a 'digital first' eco-system for the business.   When everyone is thinking and working digital - it is much easier to go for the moon, and much less cost and time."

 

5-Insights-DB.png

the top trends in digital business that make the difference

Looking across all of the clients and talking with hundreds of business leaders, we see the following 5 trends making a difference:

1) Stay hyper focused on the digital / real world customer.  The customer experience remains key, and needs to be continuously aligned with.   Journey mapping the customer experience (B2B or B2C) across your real world and digital touch points with your brand and service / solutions makes a major difference as you adopt digital solutions.  Bring those touch points and insights back to a cloud based CRM / relationship system.    

2) Digital Sales Enablement is the secret weapon to digital growth.  Digital marketing and social media are 'table stakes' activities - you need to do it, your brand absolutely needs the visibility, and- it has become a commodity.   Digital Sales Enablement - integration of 'facilitated sales platforms' and CRM solutions is becoming the major capability that companies can leverage to increase sales and growth.    

3) Artificial Intelligence has reached a maturity stage, where smaller players who are specializing and partnering.  You will see A.I. embedded in over 1/3 of your products and platforms in the the course of the next 24 months.   It is now found in part on chips in the newest iPhones, and more importantly - the cloud-enabled platforms are embedding and making possible for customer service, sales support and analytics, relationship builds with customers, and even tailored customer intake processes.  

4) Robotic process automation (RPA) is ready for the prime time.  As more companies are struggling with outsourcing (either visas, quality, or contract renewals) - the alternative that is now commercially viable is RPA.  Over 20 solution providers now exist in this space, and you will see the major consulting companies and outsourcing / system integrators will be offering this as a strong / lower cost alternative to the traditional BPO / ITO solution.  Get ahead on this curve and decide which makes sense for your company.   

5) Digital collaboration platforms (with video and content targeting and sharing)  that work on mobile are becoming a major supercharger for corporate speed and decision making, and engaging field / remote team members with a core corporate center.  We are finding companies who leverage these new generation are finally making a difference in the area of collaboration.   

 

A final insight from Rob McGillen. "These 5 digital activities are not hard efforts to rapidly prototype and bring online if a company is ready to make the journey.  The right thing to do is tackle one or more of these initiates together that enhance the collective value to the company. 

If you want to engage the customer better - focus on Sales, Marketing, transactions.  If you want to improve efficiency and growth within - collaboration and video engagement are great choices.   It depends on your business goals now and next. 

The key point is 'don't wait' for the digital moonshot opportunity.  Be practical and get moving! "

*  *  *  *

To learn how Practically Digital can help your company on digital transformation and capabilities you might consider, get in touch!

Being Different in a Digital World

The most frequent question we have heard this year at Practically Digital Why does digital matter to my business”

The short answer, because the business world has changed, quickly. The number of people with mobile devices now exceeds PCs, the degrees of engagement for customers are tilting strongly into digital territory, and customer expectations (and attention spans) are drastically heightened and short. There are growing piles of statistics that indicate that the business world is now running at a different speed. 

Digital is about time. Saving it. Optimizing it. Being different and catching the eye, thought, and opportunity for a customer to engage with your company.  Time is the most valuable asset in commerce today (both for the business and customer).

That is why differentiation in the digital world matters. The historic business activities, processes, and outcomes are growing tired in the eyes of the customer base.  People are ‘swiping left’ on companies they no longer have time to explore or wait on.  Customers are looking for fresh and engaging. They are looking for different. 

Companies who get the digital opportunity are leveraging this unique era to grow exponentially, much as they did during the 1st and 2nd Internet revolutions.  Optimizing customer journeys through digital engagement points (web presence, social media, email campaigning), selling with a high degree of affinity for the customer’s preferences, and concluding contracts in hours and days (instead of months and quarter) are all ways that leading companies are differentiating themselves.   

For 2017, we foresee a greater opportunity through digital than ever before. Companies (and individuals) who want to differentiate and go to market quickly and with high customer affinity – can do so for modest investment and effort.   

Finding those right digital business capabilities is what we focus on with our clients. Helping our clients understand the opportunities, how to roll up the sleeves and get forward quickly, and better engage customers.   We believe every company is a digital business, and the digital opportunity awaits in the year ahead.  

Start your digital year right at www.practically.digital In a digital world, be different.