The pandemic has challenged the business world in ways one has never witnessed before. The ensuing disruptions and business stagnation it has brought with it has alerted companies to one very important consideration: going digital. While technology adoption and digital transformation has been in the works for the past decade, especially among the forward-looking companies, the transition has nevertheless been slow. Of course, it goes without saying that those companies that took the early lessons in digitization and digital transformation seriously fared especially well during the pandemic. But it must be admitted that this new normal is nothing like anyone ever imagined, and even the best of forecasters agree this kind of disruption was always hard to predict. Even so, if not sooner, companies now know the importance of going digital. Technology is indeed an enabler.
What companies need to focus on now is to adapt to the new normal by placing technology at the forefront of their business development efforts. It is no longer an IT problem, but more a responsibility of the C-suite executives of a company. Digital adoption is very much a business strategy than an operational one, and it is the responsibility of the C-level managers to bring it to fruition.
Technology helps businesses re-engineer and re-imagine work spaces in a way that enables business continuity even in the midst of any disruptions. Better late than never, businesses around the world have managed to assemble some kind of digital setup in their offices in the wake of the pandemic. While this crisis has, in a way, become a catalyst in accelerating digital adoption, businesses need to become more proactive in their digital goals if they are to combat future disruptions of any kind. One thing is for sure: businesses will not be returning to the old ways of doing things. The new normal is here to stay for a long time, which means companies globally have to maneuver their operations and work methods to reflect those changes. This means accommodating continued business away from their traditional brick and mortar setting. The new normal calls for the establishment of the ‘anytime anywhere’ business model. That means optimizing work processes and functions to operate regardless of social restrictions and requiring fewer manpower needs. Some of the advancements we’ll be seeing in terms of the elevation of the workplace to enable continuous productivity:
Contactless Solutions: the finance sector has already undergone considerable changes in terms of technology and innovation. We’ll be seeing more of this in the coming years, especially in the areas of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and predictive analytics. With advancements in Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and Near Field Communication (NFC) over the years, contactless payments and virtual wallets have exploded. Automatic payments processing has become commonplace in many forward-looking companies. Intelligent automation with embedded AI and machine learning technologies have made it possible to accelerate payments processing from the time an invoice enters an organization to when it can be automatically validated for authenticity and routed to an accounting system to enable final payments and reconciliation. There is little to no human involvement in this process, making it an affordable option to reduce the costs and inefficiencies arising from manual paperwork. A combination of robotics, cognitive technologies, and cloud commuting has given rise to digital banking, enabling customers to manage their money from anywhere.
Intelligent Automation: while the insurance sector has been relatively slow to catch up with industry 4.0 compared to sectors like manufacturing and retail, there have been significant operational improvements, especially when it comes to handling heavy document-dependent processes like medical claims processing. Intelligent automation has made it possible to automate and accelerate claims processing, lowering the dependence on manpower greatly. The operating costs and delays from manually handling insurance claims has also come down dramatically, thanks to intelligent automation. Additionally, indexed insurance and other coverages, primarily to protect working capital and fixed assets, in the event of economic or weather-related catastrophes, help safeguard businesses in the long-run and ensure continued productivity.
Cloud Technology: the adoption of cloud-based applications has probably been the most significant and widespread over the past months. And there is no doubt that this technology is here to stay for a very long time. In fact, companies invested in cloud ERP solutions and cloud-based business applications like intelligent document processing will not have to think about revamping their IT setup for a long time, as forecasters predict cloud will be the major technology over which all other IT developments will take place. From call centers to customer service and back-office operations, cloud will be doing all the heavy-lifting in terms of taking over core, mission critical processes.
Virtual Reality: virtual reality hardware and software create for users a simulated experience of environments without them being physically present there. We have seen its application in areas of computer games and cinema, but increasingly, this technology is beginning to find usage in workspaces and factories to prepare businesses for unexpected circumstances and lower the costs of potential future disruptions to work. An example would be the simulation of inventory units, including the projection of factory floor space and virtual movement of goods as a way of determining optimum management of supplies and logistics.
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