We are living in strange, yet interesting times. COVID 19 has changed some things and challenged the rest.
My conversations with several of our customers in financial services, insurance and healthcare sectors have revealed similar sentiments, concerns and predictions. It seems inevitable that we will exist in an entirely different world post-COVID.
At Lateetud, we already knew how important it was to create a Digital Operating Model, since our services fall in the digital transformation realm. Yet, COVID 19 has brought this to the fore and has forced companies to expedite their digital initiatives. For example, our SBA PPP Solution that was created in weeks and deployed in hours, ended up saving upwards of 100,000 jobs all possible because Covid 19 pushed us to challenge all our paradigms.
Perhaps you’ve seen a widely circulated meme recently, which asks a simple question, “Who is driving your digital transformation?” The options provided are CEO, Chief Digital Officer, Chief Information Officer, or “COVID 19.” You get the point.
In this post, I would like to highlight a few areas that the COO (with support from CIO) must consider not only in our current climate, but for an inevitable future.
Many of our behaviors have changed overnight and will stay with us forever. For instance, the McKinsey consumer sentiment analycis indicates that consumers are starting to adopt new behaviors, including shopping on new websites for basics (15 percent), shopping at a new grocery store (15 percent), adopting curbside restaurant and store pickup (13 percent and 10 percent), grocery delivery (10 percent), and trying video conferences for professional/personal reasons for the first time (10 percent and 9 percent). The report continues to indicate there will be certain behaviors that will continue and there are others that will be dropped.
How does that impact the workplace? I’ll start with my perspective; I am now more accustomed to everything virtual. I have at least half a dozen “continuously on” virtual meeting rooms in Teams, where I can pop in to interact with my team members anytime-most are work-related, but a few exist to “chit chat” or share ideas. Our future could look even more virtual: a virtual coffee bar, virtual helpdesk, or virtual HR. Several years ago, I was asked to use a funky app called Sococo that created a virtual office for us to operate out of. Eerily, it closely resembled an office and helped me to understand the need for such a tool – MS Teams are you listening?
Likely, the need to commute for in-person meetings will reduce. For instance. TCS just now announced that 75% of its 350,000 employees will work remotely by 2025. What will happen to commercial real estate?
Drew DeSilver, a senior writer for Pew Research Center, said the situation is "a large and unexpected experiment" of whether companies will make the switch to telework.
As virtual working operations become more familiar and comfortable for organizations, leaders will be tasked with creating and establishing Digital Operating Models by implementing an Intelligent Automation Framework to ensure that you are able to operate seamlessly.
We have only so many nurses, doctors, healthcare workers, loan processors, claims adjudicators and employees. We have seen the demand for these essential services and similar services increase exponentially.
“Following its launch, the SBA processed more than 14 years’ worth of loans in less than 14 days, which will protect a vast number of American jobs,” SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a joint statement. Banks have had to deal with the deluge of SBA PPP applications almost overnight. Grocery stores were sold out of critical items and almost all the demand in retail shifted online.
We have limited supply of “skills.” Let us not squander productivity (and as a result, potential for growth) by doing administrative work that does not add value to the craft. Increase the efficiency or increase the throughput. This is possible only through automation. Let technology handle the rest, so you can focus on what is meaningful and value adding. It is no longer a matter of convenience or cost saving - lives and jobs depend on it.
I sound like a broken record when I say, “what we have seen was never imagined.” We are seeing disaster recovery, business continuity and unprecedented demand for services - all at the same time. In the past, CIOs and COOs always planned for disaster recovery, imagining scenarios where a certain location, set of applications or certain section of employees could be impacted for a limited duration of time.
But this was different. Everything has been impacted - all locations, all services, all employees and all customers for unknown period of time. Who could have planned for this? On paper, this looks like an impossible scenario. Only a select number of people with unique insights and access, like Bill Gates in this ted talk, could speak to its possibility and share it with the masses.
Today, Verizon customers are making 800 million calls a day now—double the amount on Mother’s Day, which has historically been the busiest day for Verizon. Microsoft Teams handled 2.7 Billion minutes of calls on March31st. Additionally, companies are utilizing video in meetings 43% of the time, compared to previous years, when21% of meetings had video. The total number of weekly video calls in Teams has increased by a factor of 1,000 in March.
This is the pattern across sectors. I referred to the volume increase in SBA PPP Processing, where $349 Billion loans were made in matter of a week and an additional $310 Bil was made available in the second phase that started last week. A Lateetud customer in the banking industry went from processing 400+ loan applications a year to 4,000 loans applications in weeks.
The mortgage industry is seeing tremendous volume as well. As unemployment rises, Americans are increasingly facing hardships, resulting in more outreach to their mortgage servicers for forbearance and adjustments. One of the banks I talked to last week has received 70,000 requests to process in matter of days. Additionally, opportunities exist to pursue new customers, by offering re-financing services in this extremely low-interest environment.
Will this last forever? If not, how do we handle it a redefined business environment? The answer lies with COOs, in terms of about how to create this dynamic capacity overnight.
We have seen and used several such services during COVID 19. Everything from food and grocery delivery to healthcare, communication, and transportation are being offered as-a-service.
You can only achieve true scalability (as described in the previous point) if you utilize everything as a service, which is made possible by cloud technology. Not only must you become users of XaaS, your offering must widely become products-as-services whenever possible.
Today, you’re tasked with creating your digital operating model in the cloud, which comes with various questions: How does your operation run remotely? Can you run your call center on the cloud so that your call center agents can work from anywhere? Do you really need the mail room? Can you pay for what you use so that you can create dynamic capacity?
As a small business, we applied for SBA PPP Loan through a large bank and, to say the least, it wasn’t a pleasant experience. I received little communication during the process and was largely left in the dark about the result.
In these times and when your staff is stretched thin, you must provide self service capabilities to your customers - the new norm moving forward. Your customers should be able to perform simple to medium functions independently - opening a bank account, sending a health service claim, finding status of a loan or claim, raising billing concerns, asking for mortgage forbearance etc. Why do you need human intervention? You should have a “Bot First Policy”. I am a sure you would be surprised by how many processes you would end up automating by having this policy.
In the SBA PPP loan status example, if you were to establish the digital operating model, then a chat bot can interact with customers, find out the context, interface with the RPA bots on the back end to find status of the loans and communicate back to your customers in matter of seconds. Straight through processing is possible and, as an operations executive, you have the duty and responsibility to push for it. Why? Because lives and jobs are at stake.
Self-service capabilities should be provided not only to your customers but also to your employees and partners. A couple of examples to think about include LatCall cloud-based contact center, APEX - AP automation or SBA PPP Loan Processing
This is why you exist. You wake up in the morning and the first thing you think about is, how is my team doing? How many jobs and lives will we save today? Do you have visibility into your operations?
If your operations are automated in parts but are still operating in silos or are disconnected, this is your wake-up call. Modern applications like iBPMS provide the ability to create an orchestration layer on top of your applications to provide you visibility. Furthermore, they also bring all your people, process, apps and bots under one roof - completely connected.
This modern pandemic has reflected the current state of business back to us, and it’s not pretty. The next time something like this happens - potentially in seasons to come- I hope we see something better and smile back. It is time to take an honest, hard look at what it takes to embark on establishing the digital operating model.