Silver lining for app developers

The pandemic has compelled the business process management (BPM) industry to rethink. The outcome will be nothing short of a journey of disruption as robotic process automation unfolds over the coming decade.

 The Covid environment has thrown open challenges and uncharted avenues for the technology industry. Business process management is no exception. Business houses have gone back to the drawing board to sketch new solutions to stay afloat in these trying times.

Speakers at an online Nasscom event last week predicted that three key trends will shape the future of business processes over the next decade. To begin with, the shift to digital will be accelerated in business enterprises. The consumption of mobile data and broadband will be doubled or even trebled.

The second aspect is that businesses will have to be prepared for fluctuation and unpredictability in the market. Business models need to be flexible and agile, while also ensuring that solutions are low-cost.

“Resilience is the third change to look out for,” said Indraneel Banerjee, a partner at McKinsey. “This is much required as remote working is commonplace. Determining factors such as efficiency can be achieved through innovative solutions,” he continued.

Though the pandemic has made a dent in all sectors, its impact is not the same everywhere. While most sectors have been adversely affected, there appears to be a window of opportunity for sectors like healthcare, retail and e-commerce. These sectors are moving forward with market capitalisation as their goal.

Hence, the vertical impact of Covid indicates that the solutions can vary from sector to sector. For instance, in the case of the retail industry, omni-channels are projected to become more prevalent to support store sales, insurance will become more digitised, while life sciences and telemedicine will conduct clinical trials much more frequently than before.

Horizontally, all industries will commonly rely on cloud and cyber security for their distributed workforce. Employees work from home (WFH) and this is here to stay. “WFH has resulted in evolving priorities, which can be fulfilled through digital automation programme. Some of the common concerns of organisations are to service accounts, invoices and processes. Deals need to be sealed, taking into account end-to-end strategic planning,” added Banerjee. Operating models may require some re-imagination as sometimes multiple vendors need to be accommodated to meet a sales target.

All these trends are expected to give a new look to business process management. To put things in perspective, the BPM industry came into existence around two decades ago. “At that time it was known as BPO [business process outsourcing]. The concept of domain picked up around mid 2015-2016. By 2020, domain re-characterised the BPM industry,” recalled KS Viswanathan, vice president, industry initiatives, Nasscom. By then, technology, people, processes and domain had all come together. That was the time when robotic process automation (RPA) technology had gained momentum.

Businesses have begun to streamline processes using cognitive RPA. Leaders and decision makers were quick to understand that RPA can transform the value proposition of businesses. The change will be brought about by integrating it with intelligent tools. Scalability and enhanced customer experience are among its benefits. To that extent, this decade will see the rapid adoption of RPA. Some of the verticals include banking and telecom, as well as government services.

As the next frontier for businesses, RPA will result in ‘explosive’ growth. And all this is happening in Covid times. “Looking back, the economy has faced several challenges. Right from the days of World War II in 1939 to the oil crisis of 1973 to the 2017 GST (Goods and Services Tax) India has seen it all. But by far, the Covid impact can be described as the biggest disruption that has happened over the last century,” Banerjee declared.

All this was discussed at the Nasscom BPM e-Confluence event titled “Cognitive Automation & RPA – Creating Value and Scalability”. It was held online last week.