The challenges of hybrid working: Digital transformation and customer engagement

10 October 2022 / Insight posted in Article

The Coronavirus pandemic has accelerated digital transformation and adoption of latest technologies bringing about years of change in a short span of time. This has come with the re-shuffling of priorities for businesses, so they can quickly adapt to this new reality.

As businesses look to the next normal, the traditional notion of a workplace is being redefined. Workforces adopting different hybrid working models has led to the discovery of organisational gaps and vulnerabilities that may have been either previously unknown or left unaddressed.

This has allowed a whole set of new and diverse challenges to emerge, ranging from collaboration, cybersecurity, and IT resilience and agility to employee morale and getting the best out of remote workforces. Technology is now seen as a critical aspect of businesses rather than just something to enhance productivity or to reduce operating costs.

This series of articles looks at five key challenges of hybrid working and how to build resilience in all aspects of the business operating model. New strategies and practices are considered for business leaders to harness, facilitating continuous innovation and a strong competitive advantage in this digital age.

Hybrid and remote operations

Many processes that would have been easy with everyone in the same office need to be re-thought through given workforces are dispersed and operating a hybrid system. Where you might have gone to a colleague’s desk with an invoice for them to approve, you now need to scan, email and wait for the same approval.

This hybrid challenge creates an opportunity to look at tasks and processes from an end-to-end perspective and re-imagine the working practices to maximize efficiency across front-middle-and-back offices. This involves assessing the key activities to identify these newly emerged process inefficiencies and where applicable, segregate any activity that is best performed on-site only. This can help redesign the processes to increase the effectiveness of the workforce in the hybrid office.

As we move from physical workspaces to connected workspaces, businesses can even look to build their smart digital workforce to support their remote staff. They can leverage RPA and AI technologies to deliver intelligent process automation that will help them work more effectively and in turn, uplift the capacity of human workforce enabling them to focus more on purposeful work.

Business intelligence dashboards too can play an increasingly important role in certain processes such as stock management as they provide a real-time, customized view of the relevant data. With stock management for example, certain parts of the process can be automated, so that when orders are approved the dashboard automatically updates avoiding bottlenecks and giving the stakeholders a clear view of the current situation.

Looking to drive efficient processes and leverage AI to automate processes makes sense for any business, but the value is enhanced when a workforce is fully or partially remote.

Customer engagement

The pandemic has led to a change in customers’ needs, preferences and attitudes towards wanting more digital interactions. This has put pressure on businesses to adapt and we’ve seen where businesses have failed to adapt quickly enough they have lost customers or even gone out of business altogether. This preference towards increasing digitisation is a trend that is only going to continue and grow and so continues to be something businesses have to focus intensely on.

Customers are thinking digital first, and therefore it is fundamental that businesses take a digital-first approach, otherwise they will struggle. They need to continue to expand their digital presence to continue to grow their customer base, providing an omni-channel experience with a focus on convenience, user-friendliness and security. They need to make sure they have expanded their digital routes to market.

Leaders should focus on enhancing the customer journey experience to delight customers and to strengthen customer relationships. Design thinking is a good option in this regard as it is an ideology and a process that aims to solve complex problems and build innovative solutions with a human-centred approach. It puts people at the centre of design and has a strong focus on observing and understanding the user’s perspective.

The approach can be used effectively by businesses across different sectors to uncover the true needs, pains and gains of people interacting with the service and, in turn, drive targeted efforts to enhance the experience, unlocking the “people part” of the digital transformation puzzle.

Businesses need to be always looking for ways to add new products and services to build competitive advantage, leveraging the latest technologies to offer unique and bespoke services to clients.

Contact our digital transformation team for more information or visit our outsourcing and digital transformation pages.

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