Workflow, Process Automation, and the Hybrid Team

Technology leaders discussed new workflow and process automation tools, and how they are interacting with newly hybrid teams.


Workflow process automation turns both individual and group tasks and operations within the business faster, accurate and more efficient overall. More technology leaders are turning to automation to transform employee and customer experiences, as well as the productivity of their teams. In this debate, technology leaders discuss the effects of hybrid working on automation in their businesses, efficiency considerations and how this has affected their overall experiences. 


With Jon Bernstein moderating this roundtable debate, the speakers include:


Hybrid working and process automation

Moderator Jon Bernstein asked the speakers to what extent hybrid working has heightened the need for automation. 


“I think that hybrid working alone has created more asynchronous activity”, said CDIO at London Business School, Danny Attias. Nowadays, he argued, people aren’t depending on others being around the table at the same time and following what they are doing. This asynchronous element, according to Danny, enables technology leaders to track things better. An area of importance in this case is maintaining that communication “whether it’s approvals or core business processes that allow for the business to function”. 


One other point Danny made about hybrid working centred around the idea that people are now more available. 


“If you’re remote you’re even more available because you’re on chat, you can respond really quickly”, he said. He did acknowledge, however, that some remote workers operate in different hours and working patterns. This once again introduces the asynchronous nature. “There’s pros and cons from that perspective”, Danny explained.


Coming in with a different view, CEO of Global Transform, Dax Grant, separates the two previous views suggested. 


“The impetus for the business to automate is the impetus for the business to automate”, she said. The idea that we are remote or “part-remote” is a different conversation according to Dax. She argued that: “If you’re at the Board driving the business, you’ll want to automate the right parts of the business”. 


In the end, Dax stated that it comes down to the customer and how they want to work. Rather than having a heightening effect, hybrid working helps technology leaders focus on what to automate and how to automate it. She added that customer relationship touchpoints have become greater and that automation shouldn’t ruin these “magic moments”.


Coordination and communication

Jon Herstein, Customer Success Executive at Box, agreed with Dax’s previous point on the impetus already being present. 


“Hybrid may have heightened it a bit but these things should be happening in our businesses anyway”, he said. Jon argued that with the increase in hybrid working, people have become more geographically distributed. 


This change in time zone means technology leaders need more control and coordination. This includes more coordinated access and “coordinated communication both online and offline” according to Jon. Before, Jon pointed out that if you worked in a room with a physical whiteboard, you now have to use a digital whiteboard. “Starting to think about how you automate some of those things is certainly important now”, he said. 


According to AgroGalaxy’s CDO, Maria Pilar Varela Sepúlveda, technology leaders need to focus internally on the workers as well as the customer perspective. 


Working for a Brazilian retainer business, Maria stated that AgroGalaxy has 145 branches in 12 states all over Brazil. Describing it as a traditional business, Maria put into perspective what a digital transformation would be like for an offline business. 


“How you measure and how you communicate to your customer the pandemic crisis [is key]”, she argued. In her view, hybrid working is now set in place. Customers no longer only deal and negotiate in branches, they are also communicating online. “We are facing this big transformation in order to bring more automation, more processes”, she explained.


Employee experience and engagement

Technology leaders look after their teams in some way shape or form, according to Dax. “Motivating those teams in our automation and capability is about equipping them and is about creating those opportunities”, she argued. It’s also about linking those teams and employees to the central purpose of the organisation. She pointed out that leaders need to consider that “longer term” and the next skills gap. 


Moving on from this, Dax mentioned that she discussed societal leadership in her latest book. She argued that automation is a positive thing for the business. On the other hand, she outlined that: “We also need to be conscious as technology leaders to look at the impact of employee workforce and what that means in terms of future opportunities”. She asked the speakers to imagine what this will look like in 10 years time. “Do you want everything automated?”.


This roundtable was recorded at The Studio and made in partnership with Box.

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