It is increasingly a matter of consensus today that digital technologies, taken together, constitute the single largest disruptor to, and enabler of, business services delivery since the industrial revolution ushered in the age of the machine. While digital technologies have already lowered business costs substantially, by 2018, the IT research and advisory firm Gartner predicts that the total cost of ownership for business operations will be reduced by an additional 30% through the use of smart machines and industrialized services1.
Many enterprises fail to reap the expected business outcomes from digital technologies. Why? Two major reasons
A back-end operations mashup
Most enterprises’ back-end operations are an unwieldy amalgamation, their business processes mingling with IT, a gray zone “people stack,” and systems of record (Figure 2). And business processes – core, end-to-end, and industry-specific alike – tend to be inconsistent across functions and regions. For example, an enterprise’s Brazil, China and US-based F&A teams often operate differently from one another, each with varying degrees of data, detail, and depth. Or it may be that the enterprise’s IT environment is composed of ERP, sales force automation and invoicing systems, and customer contact databases, plus a spate of applications. Some of these were probably implemented over a decade ago, likely in a piecemeal, non-integrated manner, with varying levels of capability and automation.
Because of enterprise-wide system and application inconsistencies and inadequacies, attempts by users to patch gaps, cover white space, and fill in nooks and crannies with manual efforts only increase disconnects throughout the enterprise. At the same time, multiple systems of record tend to be rigid and unable to accommodate changes in business requirements, or insights attained from analytics.
This has led to enterprises being unable to align initiatives to deliver measurable impact. As well, some are slow to embrace digital for the value chain beyond the front office. For other firms, the complexity of legacy technology, processes – and sometime people – seems insurmountable.
For example, you will grapple with reducing your days sales outstanding (DSO) level if the collections component of your order-to-cash process is not dynamically driven by risk-based segmentation. In the record-to-report process, if your inter-company reconciliation is performed manually using excel, close time and accuracy will suffer. Regulatory reporting in the life sciences industry is daunting due to inherent process complexities and the sheer volume of data. In retail banking, legacy CRM systems often cannot integrate to enable multichannel customer interactions.
Collectively, issues of this kind have far-reaching, deeply negative implications for opportunity costs, effectiveness, efficiency, straight-through processing, standardization, voice of the company, predictability of processes, and compliance. Organizations so afflicted cannot achieve Intelligent OperationsSM because they are unable to flexibly respond to dynamically changing business needs.
Unless desired business outcomes are enabled as part of comprehensively reimagined business processes, introducing digital technologies into the mix simply adds another needless layer of technological complexity.
An inordinate focus on a digitally-enabled front office
Most enterprises today have directed their digital efforts at customer-facing activities – easy online storefronts, mobile banking apps, and the like. However, these digital initiatives frequently ignore the middle- and back-office processes that support those activities. What leaders at these enterprises are failing to realize is that digital’s real bottom- and top-line-impacting value lies in behind-the-scenes operations (Figure 3).
In a 2014 blog entry, the consulting and research firm Everest Group stated the case bluntly:
“Extreme customer-centricity without suitable investment in back-end operations or business processes that drive customer delight will result in grand failure. Enterprise buyers need to judiciously invest in technology solutions across their business and internal processes to create a vibrant ‘digitally aware’ organization... The impact should be pervasive and touch upon each aspect of the business.”2
Lean DigitalSM supported by Systems of EngagementTM, enables Intelligent OperationsSM
Lean principles can be successfully applied to today’s digital environments at the core of large enterprises. This is what we call Lean DigitalSM.
Lean digital drives impact by architecting how enterprises run beyond the front-office into middle and back-offices, by focusing on what generates step change business outcomes and by avoiding the rest.
This is particularly important in large enterprises that,as described in the “digitizing broken processes” box above, have tiered and often siloed organizations, and rely on complex legacy systems for their operations.
Systems of EngagementTM are a culmination of the multitude of now enterprise-grade digital technologies coming together to transform end-to-end process management. They not only address business needs around efficiency, effectiveness, governance, and actionable intelligence, but also allow for rapid deployment and scalability without prohibitive upfront capital investments (Figure 4).
Genpact views Systems of EngagementTM like an express elevator circumventing 100 floors of technology stair-climbing to nimbly address changing business needs relevant to c-suite leadership. Here is one place where all involved parties can come in and manage the entire end-to-end process.
For example, Systems of EngagementTM enable a CFO concerned about exposure to a high tech equipment manufacturer in Southeast Asia to make adjustments and change the risk prioritization of specific criteria. That translates into segmenting the portfolio of receivables into different buckets, and bringing different approaches and remedies to each. These adjustments also generate a directed workflow, oriented toward the area in which the CFO wants to invest – and that, in turn, tells an associate exactly what he or she needs to do upon arriving at the office.
Systems of EngagementTM, by allowing organizations to reimagine their business processes, enable Intelligent OperationsSM. Indeed, it is through reimagined business processes, powered by the latest analytics and technology, that industry leaders such as Amazon and Uber have been able to out-maneuver the competition. Operations are only intelligent so far they predict, sense, act, and continuously learn and improve.
Genpact’s approach to Intelligent OperationsSM comprises three core elements, as depicted in Figure 5: provide visibility, steer effectiveness, and execute actions. Systems of EngagementTM enable Intelligent OperationsSM and allow for agile, improved instrumentation, better end-to-end process control, and increased visibility into critical information that supports insight and outcomes.
The success of Intelligent OperationsSM depends upon effectively leveraging it as a continuous learning mechanism; in this way, data sets, algorithms, and policies can be systematically and continuously tested through comparisons between variables and the impact on business outcomes. This is how innovative leaders like Uber and Amazon operate. Through a combination of classic and cutting edge methods – specifically, Lean principles, advanced digital technologies and a discovery process that involves design thinking, to harness digital’s revolutionary power in an agile way. Perhaps most important, these methods harness digital’s power to completely reimagine the middle and back office, thus unlocking disproportionate client value. Ultimately, the emergence of Lean DigitalSM practices can help many generate material impact through the latest technology, faster.
Intelligent OperationsSM enabled by Systems of EngagementTM can deliver substantial, measurable impact to an enterprise’s operating income, balance sheets, and enterprise risk and governance practices. By partnering with Genpact, for instance, a finance and accounting (F&A) client realized a 20% improvement in working capital, a 30% efficiency increase, and a 100% controls improvement; a life sciences firm increased productivity by 50%, reduced operating costs by 40%, and achieved a 0% defect rate via a robotic process automation solution; and an insurance client lowered operating costs by 30%, reduced queries by 40%, and increased customer satisfaction by 15% after Genpact introduced a cloud-based predictive analytics solution in combination with automation.
Whether in outsourced or internal shared services environments, Intelligent OperationsSM driven by Systems of EngagementTM enable enterprises to achieve critical business objectives. The key? It’s not about the digital technologies, which are only means and not ends in themselves, but rather reimagining business processes with a clear view of the desired business outcome in mind.
Case Study: A leading insurance services provider
Crawford & Company, a leading insurance services provider, needed to optimize its manual and disparate accounts receivable (AR) and collections processes.
Crawford & Company first collaborated with Genpact on best practices, then evaluated and tested the Systems of EngagementTM solution.
In the first year of full utilization, the Systems of EngagementTM platform helped deliver more than 10% improvement in DSO and resulted in frictionless collections as well as significantly more engaged employees in the collections department.
Case Study: A leading automotive parts manufacturer
A leading automotive parts manufacturer was struggling with multiple disparate ERP systems, limited AR visibility, and a lack of standardization across global business processes.
Genpact deployed Systems of EngagementTM for an O2C solution – a global, multi-lingual, multi-currency deployment integrated with multiple ERP systems. In addition, the company deployed Systems of EngagementTM O2C credit, collections, dispute and forecasting modules integrated with the D&B credit bureau for better portfolio risk management.
The company now runs 96% of its global AR on Genpact’s Systems of EngagementTM, and has realized multimillion-dollar P&L impact as well as cash flow improvement.
Case Study: A global construction and materials company
A global construction and materials company had multiple, geographically distributed credit and collections centers, each with its own methodology. In addition, the company lacked prioritization in portfolio coverage, and suffered from poor performance metrics, with dispute resolution cycle times in excess of 60 days and 50% of its portfolio touched every 30 days.
The company deployed Genpact’s Systems of EngagementTM for collection, credit, and dispute management solutions, integrated with credit bureau data.
The company was able to implement new collection strategies and auto treatments, resulting in 41% compressed cycle times for dispute resolutions, a 28% reduction in past-due AR, a 10% reduction in average days to pay, a 40% increase in sales dollars per full-time employee, and a dramatic decrease, from 3–5 hours to 15–30 minutes, in the amount of time required for reporting.
For more information, contact, firstname.lastname@example.org and visit, genpact.com/what-we-do/capabilities/digital/systems-of-engagement
- Top 10 Strategic Predictions for 2015 and Beyond: Digital Business is Driving ‘Big Change’; Gartner, Inc., October 4, 2014
- Digital Transformation: the Non-Sense of Customer Centricity! Everest Group, Inc., April 23, 2014