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A Message for the Nostalgic: It’s Time to Embrace Automation

30th Apr 2020

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Many sectors have chronically under-invested in innovation. Looking to the challenges facing business post-COVID-19, now is the time to tuck into the slipstream of growth that’s been realised by many organisations from digital transformation.

Innovation after COVID-19

Written by Ian Brookes

COVID-19 is forcing organisations who were resistant to change to adopt a more flexible, technology-oriented culture. These new processes will scale, enabling a much sleeker and quicker working style, providing enhanced service and experience to their customers, and winning reputation, new business, and enhanced profits a result.

Those that continue falling behind with their innovation mindsets will stay firmly in the low-cost, low-quality segment of their market. They will continue to deliver services that customers are familiar with but will depend on people-oriented processes that are inefficient and prone to error. Without developing a digital strategy, long-term survival is tenuous at best.

Where to start: People-less delivery

Future success will depend on efficient service delivery as a means of driving economies of scale, but more importantly, customer expectations of instant gratification will also depend on increasing automation.

Factories are now being built that have no people in them. The work they do is entirely automated, and progress is monitored remotely. When problems arise, people can be sent to fix them, rather than being based there permanently. So, do we need people to deliver people-related services?

For readers coming from a service-based business, think about an adaptation of your business model where you automate almost every aspect of advisory and managed services, evolving it into a SaaS business. This strategy would respond to customers who are looking for highly efficient services, designed by experts with an understanding of their needs. Advancements in software and data now allow for this level of personalised services while appearing simple and straightforward to the customer.

Digital Transformation: The goal largely impacts the result

It is clear that the future of people-related services lies in people-less delivery, yet many digital transformation investments have failed to generate the imagined returns. McKinsey commissioned a survey in which only 16% of respondents said their organisation’s digital transformation had successfully improved performance – this has deterred many from making investments. Half of the 16% revealed that their performance had initially improved but that those improvements were not sustained. Why are their boards not seeing an uplift in commercial performance and increased competitive advantage?

With digital transformation, the goal will largely impact the result. Having the right priorities when designing and implementing a project determines if improvements can be realised and sustained.

Following the COVID-19 crisis, cost reduction and operational efficiency will be vital as businesses look to bounce back from serious setbacks. Investments in digital transformation will likely focus on automating processes and cutting operational costs.  But the customer, and improving their experience or service, is often not the focus of such initiatives when they should be at the centre.

Find out how to deliver customer-centric digital transformation in the next installment of Ian’s series. 

Ian Brookes has spent 25 years in the tech, services & software industries, as a founder, investor and advisor. He currently is Founder & Director of thestartupfactory.tech and is a Non-Executive Director at Nivo.


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