There have been some big changes in Business Process Management in recent years. Once considered a luxury solution for big businesses with equally big budgets, technological advancements in the industry have seen tools and systems become more affordable and now we’re seeing small to medium enterprises looking at how they can manage and optimise their business processes.
With businesses unable to rely on the way they’ve always done things, streamlined and scalable workflows and processes are now crucial to staying competitive in 2018 and beyond.
Read on to find out our top five predictions in Business Process Management over the next twelve months and beyond.
1. Consumers Will Demand Everything in Real Time
The always connected customer, with unparalleled choices through mechanisms such as the share economy, has never had more power than now to demand how and when they purchase your products.
Businesses will have no choice but to adapt and become flexible to meet consumer expectations. The days of being able to dictate to consumers are nearly over. eBay’s Director of Global Infrastructure warned that failing to be responsive to your customers’ wants and needs may mean you lose them and not just for that specific purchase.
This 24/7 need for immediate, on demand service, means that companies are going to have to start seriously considering their supply chains and processes to ensure they can meet the increased expectations from their customers while remaining competitive. The change will need to come from within, because it is impossible for staff to meet consumer demands if your internal processes and systems rely on manual, non-digital and long lead time processes.
2. Chatbots Will Become More Common
It has been predicted that by 2020, 85% of consumers will be conducting their brand relationships without human interaction. With some of the biggest brands in the world already harnessing bot technology to enhance and automate the consumer engagement and sales experience, this an area that is only going to continue to grow.
At the F8 Conference in 2017, Facebook announced that they would be providing API Tools to build chatbot plugins for their increasingly popular Facebook Messenger service. Presumably there will be a flow on affect to the tech giant’s other products like WhatsApp as well.
When any Facebook page can easily integrate instant messaging and chatbots into their social media customer service, bots will start to become the primary way that all brands — big and small — initially engage one on one with their audience.
Chat is likely to become the preferred way that your team will communicate as well — it’s why employee messaging systems like Slack and Atlassian’s Jira have become powerful business tools in recent years. Not only does ‘chat’ allow real time correspondence, but conversations become searchable and archived. These platforms are also designed to integrate with the other applications your business already uses in ways that older technology like phone and email cannot.
3. Collaboration Will Become More Prevalent
Businesses are constantly looking for ways to work smarter, not harder, and outsourcing some tasks and job functions is one way that savvy small and medium enterprises can increase their capabilities without the need for full time staff.
It is this collaborative workforce that drives the need for businesses to start exploring Business Process Management solutions. The paper and human knowledge based systems that are often employed in small offices don’t work when you need to share information or processes with external partners.
As more and more businesses work with contractors, freelancers and partners on projects from marketing to accounting and everything in between, streamlined system applications will need to foster and support a remote, flexible workforce in an easy to use, scalable and customisable way.
This is where intelligent business operating systems like Workflows are really going to benefit business — the ability to automate processes, delegate tasks and manage key documents with efficient simplicity is going to be key for teams working together.
4. Artificial Intelligence Will Become Mainstream
Artificial Intelligence (AI) investment grew by over 300% year on year from 2016 to 2017 and experts tip that developers are only starting to harness and implement its full capabilities. AI has been described as “putting expertise into the machine”. It’s also putting more personalization, than we’ve ever seen, into applications. While retailers have been finding ways to fine tune the individual preferences of shoppers for some time, other industries have been lagging behind in developing similar levels of customisation and personalisation.
Experts predict that in the next twelve to twenty-four months we’ll start to see initiatives like chatbots and AI able to do everything; from alerting IT to the fact that a specific employee needs a new device based on their individual support requests, to creating efficiencies through automation such as generating reports that once took finance teams days (or weeks) to compile — and this is just the tip of the iceberg for what’s to come.
Rather than taking jobs away from humans, industry leaders say that AI and associated technologies will improve job satisfaction and free people up to “do what they’re actually being paid to do” in ways that haven’t been possible previously.
5. Businesses Will Be Looking to Automate from the Base through Process Bots
There have been so many affordable subscription style applications and software solutions hitting the market in recent years, however some businesses have found they are overwhelmed for both choice and the number of tools and systems they end up using to do their jobs.
With the very systems that were supposed to make life easier for small and medium enterprises now causing headaches, streamlined simplicity will become key for future technological investments. Businesses are now using more tools than they have previously, but it isn’t always the most cost effective or efficient solution for their technological and operational needs.
In 2018 and beyond, businesses are very likely going to be reducing their suite of technology rather than continuing to mash together multiple applications. Instead, they will be looking to single platform solutions, like Workflows, that streamline processes and repetitive tasks, connect software, people and customers together, provide enhanced efficiency and automation from the base.
In addition, by 2018 Process Bots will begin to take hold as businesses look for ways to automate their routine, day to day tasks. And by 2020, these Process Bots will move from simply automating the routine to being capable of making decisions for a business (driven by powerful artificial intelligence), allowing businesses to deliver value, leaner and faster.
With consumers having more control than ever and technology continuing to grow at exponential rates, Business Process Management will continue to become a focus of organisations as they prepare their operation for the years ahead.