Uncertain Times Call for Agile and Flexible Technology

Don Schuerman, chief technology officer at Pegasystems breaks down the need for agile and flexible technology for businesses adapting to the new norm’ post-pandemic.

In critical times, business leaders will often find themselves at a crossroads of what tasks they should focus on. Should they be concentrating on mitigating risks or solving urgent issues? Businesses are also faced with the problem of how to prepare for the ‘new norm’ they will face in the future.

Of course, it is very obvious that technology plays an integral role in the success of your organisation. From video collaboration tools that allow for important meetings to take place, right through to process automation software that makes sure that customer needs are met or exceeded, the need for organisations to have reliable and effective technology has never been greater.

This current pandemic has accelerated the speed at which organisations have had to operate at. In a virtual client meeting that took place recently, one of my colleagues said, “If you weren’t doing agile before, you are doing it now!” When enterprises use a low-code framework for case management, they can put together an application which tracks a case and connects data across systems, all in an efficient manner. Any business can adopt this approach regardless of the size of the organisation, and it can be used to immediately resolve crisis challenges such as saving jobs, but also create the foundation for a sustainable, transformative platform for the future.

During this time, low code development platforms are being used by organisations to produce apps that help to track the spread of COVID-19 within their business to reduce risk. For example, the Bavarian government in Germany used a new case management platform to establish a faster application process for SME businesses that are seeking financial relief. Firstly, case management will provide a way for companies to track, manage and automate work, even if it is distributed across systems and teams. Applicants will then fill out an online form so that the data is saved digitally, so the checking and approval team can easily access the information.

After this, automation tools aid clerks to complete cases in an efficient manner. This is done by automatically transferring payment information to the correct system and flagging to the applicant the status of the application. Not only does this solution speed up the process of delivering financial aid to businesses, but it also alleviates any pressure off of governmental administration teams as most of application processes which are time-consuming are now automated. In the first few days of going live, the solution allowed for applicants to receive 229 million euros, a process that would have otherwise taken weeks to complete.

Automation also takes such pressure off of call centre workers who are buried under a mountain of customer queries. AI engines can automatically interpret incoming emails and then direct them to case management to automate the response. This allows staff members to focus on more pressing issues, while customer receive faster service.

With many employees having to work from home for the foreseeable future, productivity can also be increase as a result of the adoption of automation. Tasked-based automation tools such as robotic process automation (RPA) can reduce the time that employees spend on repetitive tasks. End-to-end automation platforms also helps users bridge distributed work enterprises, making sure that handovers are smooth, visibility is maintained, and information doesn’t get missed by mistake.

Tom Fishburne created this cartoon which demonstrates a COVID-19 wrecking ball that is going to smash into a building full of executives who state that “digital transformation is still years away.” What this illustration is saying is that COVID-19 has forced businesses to ramp-up digital transformation to get ready for the future. The importance of digital transformation is not new, but our current situation has highlighted how critical the switch to up-to-date agile technology is for business continuity.

This pandemic will definitely continue to change the landscape of how we work in the coming months. Even prior to this crisis, a flexible work/life balance was being offered by organisations to attract talent into their workforce and retain them for the longer term. This will only be accelerated by the current situation we are faced with. Because of this, organisations will need to utilise their technology stack, whether it be video conferencing or collaboration tools, to support their distributed workforce for the foreseeable future.

While companies assimilate to this new norm, they’ll also need to ensure that they have the correct processes in place to manage their workforce. It is very likely that we are going to see AI-powered ‘managers’ emerge that can distribute work based on the real-time feedback from customers to make sure their experiences remain at a high standard.

A low-code visual development approach enables collaboration between IT and business so that they can design sections of customer journeys that are aligned with immediate outcomes, such as carrying out a customer service request. Businesses can then merge those journeys into front-end channels and user interfaces and back to existing systems that have key transactions and data sets. By uniting IT and business in a collaborative and prescriptive way, a company can speed-up the journey from idea to application and form a framework for rapid agility and change. Not only for a single process but re-designing an entire organisation from the middle-out. Concentrating on the customer journeys that require automating is a good place to start.

While the journey ahead is difficult to predict for most organisations, one thing that is certain is that technology will be vital for keeping their heads above water. The past few months have shown that it’s enormously beneficial for a company to have the ability to not only react at speed but also have the ability to pivot when their environment suddenly changes. Once we return to normality, the correct technology incorporated into the right architecture will allow for companies to adapt to whatever the ‘new norm’ may be.

Don Schuerman

CTO & Vice President of Product Marketing at Pegasystems. Architect and Evangelist for Digital Process Automation, Robotics, Low-code, CRM, Case Management, Rules and Decisioning technologies.