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Leveraging Digital Innovation to Empower Employees & Optimize Business

20 Jun 2018 by Jillian Sloan

Any and all industries are susceptible to digital disruption. MuleSoft Founder Ross Mason said it best: ”With major disruptions happening in multiple industries, no company is too big to have the rug pulled from under it. It is no longer about the big eating the small; it is now about the fast eating the slow."

In the first article of our two-part digital transformation series, we explored how businesses can gain a competitive edge by applying innovation to improve the customer experience. Here, we’ll discuss how digital innovation can be turned inward to drive workforce productivity and engagement, and to accelerate time to market and reduce operating costs.

Create a better employee experience.

When it comes to enhancing the customer experience, it isn’t just your consumers who are demanding more. As fluent technology users at home, employees now expect those same consumer-quality experiences in the workplace.

Your enterprise likely uses custom applications integrated into your everyday business operations. Modernizing legacy business applications to improve the user experience can provide tremendous Return on Investment (ROI) by means of a more productive and engaged workforce. In fact, actively engaged employees outperform peers by 147% in earnings per share1 — validating employee experience as a strategic priority.

The importance of modernizing business apps and creating frictionless workflows is not just about appeasing employees. When workers become frustrated by business technology, they seek out alternative, noncompliant applications to solve their challenges. This exposes the company to vulnerable endpoints and the risk of cyberattack.

Another catalyst for innovating the employee experience is a change in workforce behaviors. A new generation of workers demands flexibility and mobility, creating a dispersed workforce that spans the office, the road and home.

In an effort to attract and retain top talent, the enterprise structure has evolved to adapt to this new working environment. But effectively connecting workers across ZIP codes and time zones can be challenging. A 2017 study by Softchoice revealed that 94% of office workers in North America need to collaborate with other teammates as part of their job, and 83% rely on technology to enable them to work with off-site employees in real time.

The new reality of this anytime, anywhere workforce means organizations must prioritize the employee experience. Business apps and workflows must be omnichannel and bridge those distances in real time to enable effective communication and to streamline collaboration.

Employee empowerment, not replacement

When discussions begin around Artificial Intelligence (AI), conversational agents or automation, the threat of robots replacing humans is a common fear.

In actuality, replacing human labor with automation to reduce labor costs doesn’t equate to an attainable business case. When it comes to integrating technology, the focus shouldn’t be on replacing workers with machines, but on how technology can enhance what a person can do on his or her own.

AI is particularly useful for workers whose jobs focus on large amounts of data. When there’s too much data for a human to process, AI can illuminate key insights. AI does not make choices for workers, but rather provides the right information to help a human make a better decision.

Applying new technologies can free employees from tedious, repetitive tasks and enable them to perform higher-value work. Swapping predictable physical activities for automation can provide other significant benefits as well, such as increased speed and productivity, minimized errors and improved worker safety.

Use information to optimize business operations.

Enterprises today are not starved for data. Success no longer depends on how much data you can collect but on how quickly you can analyze and act on that information. Automation and real-time business can help turn data into instant insights, boosting efficiencies and eliminating unnecessary costs. AI can also play a key role in refining operations.

Enabling new ways to interact with customers, streamline or reduce operational cost, help create new lines of services, increase worker productivity, improve business process alignment and speed the pace of transactions.
Figure 1.

The opportunity for ROI is not lost on executives. In fact, executives rank the value of innovative technology to help reduce operational costs second only to increasing customer engagement, as shown in Figure 1.

In a survey by MIT Sloan Management Review, nearly three-fourths (73.2%) of executives report their organizations have attained measurable results from their big data and AI investments — including a 60% success rate with expense reduction.

So how can a business apply these technologies to drive meaningful outcomes? Let’s look at an example of digital innovation in healthcare.

Steward Health Care launched a digital innovation initiative using AI to optimize staff scheduling and patience care.

Through a combination of data points, such as bed count, seasonality and trends, the hospital can now predict its patient population with 98% accuracy. This enables Steward to schedule not only the right number of staff on a given day, but also the appropriate doctor specialties, significantly reducing labor costs while providing optimal patient care.

AI also helped Steward improve the patient experience by creating more efficient processes and time tables for events such as lab work, doctor visits and discharges.

See how Steward Health Care partnered with Insight to improve patient care, optimize staffing and reduce operational costs. Watch the video case study.

Real-time data also played a major role in transforming a company that designs, engineers and inspects bridges. Prior to the Internet of Things (IoT), a surveyor would be sent out to inspect a bridge, measure everything in real time and then enter it into a system. That data would later be aggregated and turned into reports. It might be viewed days, weeks or even months later, putting safety at risk through the long information delay.

Now, through the use of sensors, the IoT and edge computing, problems with a bridge can be discovered in real time and addressed immediately — preventing serious damage and potentially saving lives.

What can digital innovation do for you?

Business transformation starts with innovation. By using creative problem-solving, digital innovation provides infinite opportunities to engage customers, empower employees and optimize business.

Transformation begins here.

Explore the ways Insight can help your business innovate smarter.

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