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Future-Proofing Business Transformation: Four Lessons from the Pandemic

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Over 60 per cent of CEOs surveyed by Gartner revealed they believe digital transformation will spur an economic boom in 2021. To capitalise on this, leaders will need to navigate transformation projects with speed and precision.

The good news is that during the pandemic, most companies learnt to drive change initiatives at pace – in fact, over half (59%) fast-tracked transformation projects. Leaders can build on insights from these experiences. In this article, we’ll delve into four elements that proved crucial for successful transformation and how these learnings can be applied going forward.

1. Embracing agility

During the pandemic, some leaders inadvertently adopted an agile mindset to accelerate internal innovation as a response to change. Now, decision-makers need to focus on retaining this to capitalise on the economic boom forecasted by Gartner.

In a way, agility goes against the grain of traditional, long-term business planning but it doesn’t have to contradict it. For example, when defining a business plan for transformation, teams can create an upper-band and lower-band for success. Without the constraint of narrow success criteria teams can explore more scenarios and have room to pivot as unforeseen circumstances arise.

Embracing new technologies is another way business can support agility. For example, increased adoption of Intelligent Automation (IA) within the mortgage industry during the pandemic helped companies tackle higher query volumes by identifying and diverting simple questions to online self-service. This ensured agent time was focused on supporting more vulnerable customers. The approach helped mortgage providers boost customer satisfaction and maintain market position, leading to improved business recovery.

2. Smart partnering

Agility needs to be part of the selection criterion when choosing transformation partners too as ideally, these will be fully ingrained in the project. Firstsource research revealed the importance of partner integration: 62 per cent of successful change initiatives had a clear understanding of how their partner makes money and 68 per cent included suppliers on their steering groups. The research also highlighted the importance of having an informal avenue for frank conversations at a senior level so difficult topics can be tackled before issues develop.

3. Troubleshooting with data

A successful change project will involve a level of pre-emptive troubleshooting as part of its due diligence. Data insights are key to this process, helping companies prepare for the unknown so they can react faster and smarter.

For example, lenders in the UK expected to see an increase in fraud attempts when the Coronavirus Business Interruption loan scheme and other business support loans were first introduced. By analysing data around early fraud attempts, one lender was able to put in place a focused prevention response, leading to a 62 per cent reduction in fraud losses in only four months. By using data to troubleshoot, this firm was quick to understand and identify fraud patterns, drastically minimising business losses.

4. Taking a bottom-up approach

Finally, for change initiatives to be successful, it is not just leaders, but all employees, who need to be engaged in a cultural change. Firstsource launched its Automation League, which takes a bottom-up approach, for exactly this reason. The programme taught employees without a programming background, from a range of organisational functions, how to identify automation opportunities and build their own automation solutions. Engaging employees through such initiatives facilitates the development of a digital mindset by removing fear and misconceptions around automation and other technology.

Furthermore, by minimising the gap between management and employees, stresses can be reduced, and transformation projects can become more effective.

A four-pronged approach for successful transformation

Change requires leaders to take active and measured approaches to achieve set goals. While this involves planning and precision, leaders need to make room for agility in their strategy. Choosing partners capable of supporting this approach will help. What’s more, leaders need to leave room to manoeuvre in response to new data and marketplace activity. Lastly, the vision behind the transformation needs to be embraced by all stakeholders, from the boardroom to the ‘shop floor’. By doing the above, businesses can ensure their continued success and growth while contributing towards the broader economic revival the UK so desperately needs.

This article is written by Sundara Sukavanam, Chief Digital Officer at Firstsource and was first published in the CSM Magazine.

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