Focus on the Front Office First — With Digital Process Acupuncture

The phrase “going digital” is often thrown around without real meaning attached to it. Businesses know that this new digital trend has to be integrated in some form or fashion to keep up with today’s fast changing markets and customer demands. But, due to the lack of concrete starting points for digital lift-off, cautious executives are stalling the process.

To help bring clarity to this growing digital problem, we conducted research at the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work. The data from the 321 respondents revealed that early digital winners are focusing on the front office first as a formula for success. These winners are taking a precision approach — versus a doomed “boil the ocean” undertaking — in a twist on digitization that can bring benefits to an entire value chain. We call it “Digital Process Acupuncture.”

Smart Leaders Apply Digital Treatments to Customer Pressure Points

We asked leaders to identify the business processes they had already digitized, implemented pilots for or were considering digitizing. The majority of process digitization efforts were targeted at front-office B2C functions, whereas new pilots were migrating upstream, to middle-office processes that often impact B2B value chains.

To re-invent those B2B operating models, these businesses will need to re-imagine the process and re-think the future of the work processes that surround them. As one Forrester analyst recently put it, when it comes to digital:

“In the software-is-the-brand world, B2C is the initial earthquake of change and B2B is the tsunami that results as the digital shockwaves work across the associated supply chains.” — John McCarthy

In order to stimulate change, respondents clearly focused heavily on processes that target customers first. Dan Hudson gives us a great example on how the retail industry is approaching this concept:

This comes as no surprise, as an enduring mantra for digital process transformation is to put the customer or process constituent (partners, suppliers, employees) at the center of real change to improve agility, revenue and costs. To earn a competitive edge, all companies — regardless of industry or geography — need to adopt customer centric digital process change that can ripple across value chains, and digital process acupuncture can be a great way to get going.

Driving Revenue, Closing Gaps

The biggest opportunity to spark positive change lies in applying a targeted digital remedy to close the gap between the organization and its customers. Outdated processes coupled with inaction will only drive a wedge. If that happens, your organization is leaving money on the table, or even putting the company’s future at competitive risk.

In fact, well over half of our survey respondents said digital process initiatives have resulted in significant or high levels of process value chain integration.

C-suite leaders must begin to evaluate how digital process change can ripple through the value chain — or risk missing out on a powerful new method for augmenting customer loyalty and improving operational efficiency to drive top - and bottom-line performance. Already, process digitization strategies are moving rapidly into traditional business sectors, changing the basis of competition throughout many industries:

  • Banks are focused on revenue generation: Roughly 56% have already digitized product/ service development. Front-office processes follow closely, with 47% driving strategies to foster the “bank of the future.”
  • PC&L insurers have targeted the “leaky sieve” of fraud, with 56% prioritizing digital risk and fraud compliance. Using real-time digital documentation, they can support “pay-as-you-drive” initiatives or collect usage patterns derived from smart home telematics.
  • Healthcare payers’ enrollment and billing are highly digitized: Because private healthcare exchanges made legacy systems and processes a burden, many health insurers (55%) are investing in better managing complexities in verification, adjudication and claims processing. As a result, 64% have already digitized enrollment and billing services.
  • Retailers are focused on shoppers: The emphasis for retailers is on frontline B2C channels and experience, with 67% currently digitized. Back-office digitization is comparatively low (36%).

Process change today really does look, feel and act differently from the past. The tried-and-true linear, orthodox approaches may fall woefully short when exponential changes seemingly occur with each passing quarter.

We believe the answer lies in starting small and finding the incremental but well-targeted steps that can benefit process constituents across the extended enterprise.

As with real acupuncture, it’s critical to understand how all activities and processes within the business interoperate. When organizations understand “how the knee bone is connected to the hip bone” in their extended processes and value chains, good things can happen. Discover more on our Digital Process Acupuncture approach and how to easily get started.