Realizing Digital Transformation by Reinventing Business Processes

This is the 4th post in my “Cloud Adoption Journey” blog series. In this post, we will explore “Phase 3 — Realizing Digital Transformation by Reinventing Business Processes.”

Once we have completed the core onboarding and setup the supporting infrastructure needed to migrate to Office 365, we can start accelerating the impact to the business. This phase is ongoing — there is never an end as our business needs continue to evolve and Microsoft continues to make new capabilities available. How fast each organization adopts and changes is often a factor of their culture, industry, and ability/willingness to change.

Change for the sake of change does not make sense. We need to focus on business goals and outcomes which map back to our broader vision and strategy. We also need to continue to revisit and revise our strategy on an ongoing basis. Office 365 is an “evergreen” service that is regularly being updated by Microsoft. Our business and our approach to implement these changes needs to continue to evolve and be agile. No longer should we have these massive technology projects that take years to complete. We need to think in terms of smaller releases — perhaps quarterly or monthly — where we can regularly demonstrate value to the business, get feedback, and continue to iterate. These more rapid iterations enable us to communicate and engage with the business more often and be more responsive to their needs.

My future blog posts will focus on specific use cases and scenarios to consider based on my experience working with hundreds of large enterprises. Some opportunities and areas to consider include:

Business Process Automation

  • Evaluating options to automate manual and/or repetitive business processes and workflows. This could also include digitizing paper based forms and tasks.
  • Microsoft Forms, PowerApps, Flow, and SharePoint each offer opportunities to satisfy these needs. For example, a Form can be used to conduct a quick quiz or request feedback via a survey. PowerApps and Flow can be used to modernize systems such as what Microsoft HR has done with its process for requesting and tracking time off requests.
  • Microsoft Azure Cognitive Services can be integrated into these solutions to aid with a variety of needs including optical character recognition (OCR), facial recognition, language translation, and sentiment analysis. For example, Microsoft Flow has a template available to monitor Yammer for negative posts that can then be routed as appropriate for follow-up.

Employee Engagement

  • Giving all employees a voice — including “first line” workers that are often not connected to each other and the broader organization. For example, these could include people in retail, healthcare, manufacturing, hospitality, and other industries with workers that are typically working directly with customers. Yammer helps these workers not only become more engaged with their organization but also enable individuals to connect across locations to share best practices, lessons learned, and ask/answer questions.
  • Live Events enables organizations to broadcast large “town hall” style meetings across the world. For example, Microsoft regularly leverages this for our “CEO Connection” and other executive sessions to help communicate and share important news and announcements. These meetings are not only live streamed — they are recorded and available to view on demand via Stream,which is critical in large global organizations.
  • SharePoint continues to be at the core for many organizations to share important news and announcements across the organization including Corporate Communications, Divisional, and Departmental scenarios.

Intelligent/Modern Communications

  • Microsoft Teams helps transform how individuals and groups of people work together on projects, communicate, and collaborate. This includes document collaboration, conversations, instant messaging, presence, calling, and online meetings — all available within a single application. Teams also integrates with numerous other Microsoft services, such as Planner for task management, and 3rd party applications and services. The Success with Teams site provides various resources to help plan for the move to Teams and drive sustained adoption — including industry and role specific recommendations for common use cases and scenarios for leveraging Teams.
  • Leveraging chatbots is often used for seeking to answer common questions and automating both routine and advanced processes. For example, I am currently on the board of advisors for a Microsoft partner, AskHR, who has developed solutions to help HR professionals streamline their processes and improve upon the services that they offer others within their organization. These bots can be integrated and surfaced via a variety of applications including Teams.

Advanced Analytics

  • Power BI provides the ability to create, schedule data refreshes, and share a variety of reports and dashboards. There are numerous prebuilt apps for Power BI that enable you to rapidly connect to different data sources — including numerous Microsoft and 3rd party applications. For example, there are prebuilt reports to help you monitor your organization’s adoption of Microsoft 365. These reports can be accessed via a browser or mobile app and also be embedded directly in context within other applications such as a tab in Microsoft Teams or via a web part within a page within SharePoint.
  • MyAnalytics functions as your personal trainer for taking control of your calendar and overall work-life balance. This solution provides a rich dashboard of insights and recommendations that are visible only to you to help you better understand how much time you are spending in meetings, how productive these meetings are, and people you should reconnect with. Nudges within Outlook help you keep your promises by reminding you of commitments you have made via email and recommending effective time management — including suggesting blocking time for focus hours during the day rather than only having “free time” to work outside of normal business hours.
  • Microsoft has worked with leading organizations to provide a variety of Workplace Insights that explore common challenges within organizations. Workplace Analytics is a solution that builds upon this research and enables organizations to spot trends and patterns and then take action on them. Common examples include understanding the true cost of time spent in meetings; assessing how successful new employees/companies are being integrated into the broader organization; and identifying and replicating best practices from top performing parts of your organization. This provides a data driven approach to making business decisions and has been a key part of Microsoft’s own cultural and organizational transformation over the past few years.