August 1, 2016

Go Digital: Reimagine Your Workforce

Author: Renee Bingling

Your most recently hired employee or colleague may not necessarily have two hands and feet. Don’t panic! It’s not the apocalypse coming to get us humans. A recent study by consulting firm Accenture is challenging you to reimagine your workforce consisting of humans and smart technology working side by side, in collaboration. Smart businesses have discovered that technology is not a threat but an ally.

When smart people and smart tech collaborate, the quality of results is higher. Regardless of size, businesses that are serious about competing in today’s environment understand that technology is no longer a fringe benefit but is an integrated, malleable partner in the workforce. 

 

When businesses approach technology as a collaborative partner worthy of investment, they fast realize that work can become simpler yet more efficiently innovative. Employers in a growing, competitive business often acknowledge hiring as a good investment; so is investing in technology to complement the value of new talent. Pause to consider some of the challenges that are repeatedly tackled by your team. Could they be better solved if delegated to technological solutions? Could some of the tasks in your core processes be automated, to provide you and your team with more time to strategically focus on long-term competitive growth?

A business that is experiencing significant growth in customers should not only consider hiring another accountant or marketer but may also need to adopt an accounting digital solution to better support the growth process. An e-invoicing solution that matches bank transactions, adjusts inventory levels and automatically generates purchase orders may be a more suitable solution for growth. Instead of the accounts payable team focusing on manually generating invoices, they could be empowered to collaborate with technology; giving them time to focus on more strategic accounting functions. One of the most frustrating challenges faced by many employees is working with an archaic manual process that is no longer compatible with the new business direction. Many times decision makers are intimidated by the costs of introducing technology into their core processes, as they may not readily see the long-term trade-offs of savings, convenience and innovation.

Your business will be more competitively viable if its smartest people are collaboratively pushing boundaries with the smartest technology.

The key is empowering leadership and employees to identify core processes that can be done faster, more efficient than and as cost effectively as possible with technology. For example, one of the core business processes for a medical billing company is mailing its clients’ invoices as quickly as possible. This company would find immense value in slashing six hours of folding, stuffing and sealing envelopes to only an hour, while producing up to 1,350 envelopes. The company will also see the long-term benefits of collaborating with technology as it is able to automate the process, thanks to the programmable memory store for frequent jobs. More and more the reimagined blended workplace of humans and machines provide businesses with the opportunity to automate tasks and overall productivity. 

The push to go digital has not only ushered in the need for entities to empower employees through technology but also to train technology to operate as a more intuitive collaborative team member. 77 percent of executives surveyed by Accenture noted that within three years, they will be training machines as much as they train their people. What this means is that in a constantly changing business environment, companies are more interested in deliberately guiding digital technologies towards a more flexible, intuitive growth path. One key example is the desire to gain and maintain good customer relationships, regardless of where a customer lives. Businesses can now easily maintain control over the accuracy of changing customer data and stay in contact with clients even after they have moved. Imagine the time that it would have taken an employee to manually track and locate a customer’s new address.  Think about the cost wastage associated with sending batches of mail to incorrect addresses.

The smartest businesses do not invest in technology in isolation but empower team members to work alongside machines and digital solutions for smarter results.

It is imperative for businesses to identify which tasks may be better suited to machines versus humans and train both accordingly, so that neither gets left behind. It is predicted that the reimagined workforce will be better served if the creativity, communication complexity and insights from humans are integrated with the speed and precision of machines and software. The richness of output needed to satisfy the direction of the future workforce will only be best satisfied when humans and technology are collaborative partners.

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