Most organizations contain certain elements of fragmentation, such as silos between departments that have adopted and developed different strategies in running processes and owning data. All of this contributes towards driving inefficiencies in the way the organization operates.
Over time, a whole series of workarounds have been built up to address these issues, which only serve to push them further apart. They don’t address the root cause directly and are therefore not able to eliminate the source of friction.
A Frictionless Enterprise is best expressed as an attitude on how organizations can create best-in-class processes and services that deliver increased efficiency, faster time to market, and an enhanced user experience.
We talked to Lee Beardmore, Vice President – Innovation, Business Services, Capgemini, about Frictionless Enterprise, and secure business strategies. Lee has spent over two decades advising clients on the best strategies for technology adoption. More recently, he has been leading the push in AI and intelligent automation for Capgemini’s Business Services. Lee is a computer scientist by education, a technologist at heart, and has a wealth of cross-industry experience. Excerpts:
DQ: What are your strategies to meet the challenges of 2021?
Lee: It is no understatement to say that COVID-19 has challenged the world in ways it has never witnessed before. From its impact on global economies and business, to the response mechanisms implemented by governments to limit the disruption, the ongoing implications of the pandemic are huge.
There will be economic pressures that follow COVID-19. This will result in more emphasis being put on cost-cutting measures and cash, as well as ways to make the organization leaner, fitter, and more agile.
Service providers will be asked to create new ways of detecting, preventing, and overcoming frictions in their clients’ business operations. These challenges have not necessarily occurred as a result of COVID-19 – the pandemic has simply acted as a catalyst in requiring businesses to rethink issues that were perhaps always present but hadn’t been given enough attention.
The COVID-19 crisis has validated and accelerated our move towards, what we call, the Frictionless Enterprise – one in which information flows seamlessly between people and processes, intelligently, and as and when it is needed, to create effortless, touchless, and “frictionless” operations for our clients.
Achieving it doesn’t mean the arbitrary application of technology, rules, or processes. It entails whole new, digital ways of thinking and working, combined with the capacity to constantly adapt itself to new contexts
While we don't know exactly what the post-pandemic world will be, we do know that to thrive in the emerging “next normal,” there will be even greater need for agile and seamless connections with our customers, partners, and employees, underpinned by deeper digital transformation and state-of-the-art technology.
DQ: What Strategies for a sustainable planet to ensure frictions are solved taking into account the global context?
Lee: It’s difficult for an organization to consider its evolution without factoring in its responsibilities to the environment and society. Targets such as increased business insight, greater efficiency, more seamless processes, and better user experience ought to be joined by a commitment to become carbon neutral as well as to corporate responsibility and sustainability (CR&S) and digital inclusiveness topics. The more efficient we are, the less resources or energy we spend.
The “Sustainable planet” fundamental within Capgemini’s Frictionless Enterprise approach ensures frictions are solved considering the global context:
• Technology – giving CR&S a technology focus should be as natural as the attention it gets in the organization and business strategy. Capgemini’s Integrated Architecture Framework includes a sustainability perspective designed to provide sustainability KPIs methods, such as planned CO2 consumption correlated to hardware consumption.
• Applications – leveraging cloud-native microservices, serverless solutions, and as-a-service and pay-as-you-use services that can scale up or down depending on usage is an efficient way not to waste resources, bring down CO2consumption, and reduce cloud costs.
Combining these elements enables a far simplified mechanism for measuring and monitoring the carbon footprint of all business operations.
DQ: Strategies to secure business to avoid any unexpected consequences?
Lee: Business cannot be done alone. Every enterprise needs suppliers to work with and customers to sell to. Solving internal frictions without addressing external frictions will have, by definition, a very limited impact.
This requires trust to be built across an organization’s ecosystem of customers, suppliers, and partners, and an established set of solid rules to be implemented by the lead enterprise.
The “Secure business” fundamental within Capgemini’s Frictionless Enterprise approach helps organizations avoid any unexpected consequences:
Cybersecurity is a set of rules and solutions that are designed jointly but enforced by an independent team. It must be applied at each level of the architecture – including the enterprise, infrastructure, application and data layers. The weakest part of any cybersecurity strategy defines the level of protection. The move to cloud and especially cloud native is a perfect opportunity to address security at the heart of any solution.
Compliance is another set of rules to be applied, with technology mainly used to guarantee a process has respected a business rule and executed it as planned. The use of distributed ledger technology – blockchain –generates an immutable, shared, and tamper-proof source of truth, and hence a verifiable audit trail for all transactions.
Privacy is obviously an absolute prerequisite for communication. Avoiding data silos, simplifying data, and applying rules on data usage is essential to be able to govern data. Leveraging an enterprise data discovery and search tool can identify all potentially sensitive data, and a tamper-proof audit trail can enable traceability. Privacy in business is the first element to start with.
As transparency becomes the norm, building trust with customers and partners is becoming more and more important.
DQ: What are the challenges in implementing the Frictionless Enterprise?
Lee: Organizations need to look at the root cause issues of why frictions exist in their business operations. This is usually down to the way organizations have been structured, the way processes have been developed, and the way data is stored.
Most organizations contain certain elements of fragmentation, such as silos between departments that have adopted and developed different strategies in running processes and owning data. Depending on how close the team is from the customer and the competition, the time to market pressure is so different it generates a multi-speed organization, which creates various levels of appetite for change, as well as communication and alignment concerns.
All of this contributes towards driving inefficiencies in the way the organization operates. Over time, a whole series of workarounds have been built up to address these issues, which only serve to push them further apart. They don’t address the root cause directly and are therefore not able to eliminate the source of friction.
The Frictionless Enterprise helps drive a much more proactive approach to operational management and insight generation to support decision-making than it has been able to do in the past. This enables organizations to become better equipped at making rapid decisions because they have the information needed to respond as effectively as possible.
Having access to this kind of insight and preventive procedures helps organizations interact holistically with their business ecosystem of employees, customers, partners, and suppliers in their supply chains, enabling them to control and prevent disruptions to their business operations in a meaningful and beneficial way.
DQ: How can we solve these implementation challenges?
Lee: The implementation of a frictionless process doesn’t end when it has been augmented or fully automated. Organizations need the ability to control, understand, and analyze the execution of each process in real time in order to conduct an ongoing program of continuous improvement.
Before a task can be automated, the process it is part of needs to be completely redesigned. This is the first form of order that must be put into place, so when exceptions occur, they can be managed by humans without friction. AI can orchestrate machines and humans by predicting operations upstream from a process that creates exceptions.
These are then assigned to a human operator who handles them correctly. In this way, AI becomes part of the actual architecture that keeps the “human in the loop” to perfect the process managed by machines.
Processes are managed by machines and augmented by humans. This intelligent architecture is another form of order established in the process. AI acts as an invisible hand governing operation between humans and machines to improve the overall efficiency of the process.
At Capgemini, the plan deliver on the frictionless vision is the Digital Global Enterprise Model (D-GEM) platform, which encompasses the tools and techniques for reshaping and streamlining processes. The enterprise clients with whom we work have found considerable success with it.