Low code, which emerged onto the technology scene in 2014, has taken the application development market by storm. Enterprises across all industries are rapidly adopting low code solutions, especially following the unprecedented demand for digitization in 2020as a result of COVID-19. A recent Gartner survey estimated that by 2024, more than 65% of application development will be done on low code platforms and 75% for both IT application development and citizen development initiatives.
The real question is, beyond achieving their initial digital goals, what else can organizations do with their low code investment?
Practical Application: Understanding the Scope of Low Code
Imagine you’ve successfully purchased and implemented a low code solution, investing a significant amount of money and time into achieving your digital goals. What can you do to make sure your success isn’t just a one-time thing?
Especially at a time when most organizations are thinking about cost efficiency and practical efficacy, you must consider ways to scale your low code solution and increase your ROI.
While there are countless ways to maximize your investment, here are five proven approaches:
- Drive standardization through rapid application delivery
The rapid application delivery capabilities of a low code solution are integral to large-scale digitization, standardization, and governance. The ability to quickly develop applications enables data access and integrity, privacy, security, integration, and more. By quickly developing applications and updates, you can set a standard model for workflows and execute processes in a uniform way across different parts of the organization. You can even incorporate feedback from current users to develop quick fixes for future projects
- Optimize results through integration
Avoid building all your applications and workflows natively using your low code platform. Instead, seamlessly integrate with other tools and technologies to fill business gaps and specific requirements that your low code solution cannot address. Maximizing external tools enhances the overall productivity of your operations and eliminates the need to expend your resources on building a similar tool internally
- Use the right mix of technologies
To ensure that you are getting the maximum return on your low code investment, you must use an appropriate mix of technologies, rather than relying on a single tool. Think of ways to incorporate a variety of new-age technologies into your operations, especially the more complex processes. Strategically augment your low code solution by implementing robotic process automation, dynamic case management, rules and decisioning engines, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and more
- Capitalize on citizen developers
Tap into your non-IT talent and expand their skillset by training them to use your low code development tools to create applications and updates. Share the IT team’s workload with your citizen developers, allowing your IT to merely oversee application development and focus on more complex issues. Additionally, commit to creating a community platform, like a developer forum, to quickly collaborate with all types of developers on best practices, ideas, and resources
- Respond to the unexpected
Quickly respond to unforeseen changes, problems, requirements, and more by leveraging the agility and scalability of your low code platform. Create a customized solution for any business need, without sacrificing on speed or quality. Deliver results within days, or even hours, rather than waiting months for application and workflow updates
The future is, unequivocally, based on low code. And as we continue to navigate the unprecedented in 2021, it is imperative that you optimize your investment and get a bang for your buck!
Yes, you read that right!
Reading people’s minds is a superpower that most of us would love to have. While social listening is not exactly mind reading, it is as close as it gets for modern business leaders.
In today’s sense-and-respond environment, the importance of customer experience cannot be overemphasized. You must know what your customers are saying about your organization—how much do they love your brand? Are they satisfied with your services? What’s bothering them the most?
However, despite having a digital presence and a willingness to transform customer experiences, efforts often fall flat. Sound relatable? Keep reading to learn how you can bridge the gap between expectations and reality.
Quick Rewind … What’s Social Listening?
As the name suggests, social listening allows you to figure out what your audience is saying on your different channels and track conversations as well as mentions related to your brand, your peers, and their products and services. With the right approach, you can analyze the gathered data and take immediate actions in response.
Why Don’t Brands Listen? Where’s the Gap?
With the overwhelming amount of noise on social media platforms and other customer engagement channels, including phone, live chats, messaging apps, SMS, and websites, separating the signals from the noise becomes a daunting task. Organizations often:
- Fail to deliver personalized experiences across the customer journey
- Lack an omnichannel approach to reach out to customers
- Lack access to contextually accurate information
- Do not have a scalable customer experience strategy
And all this often leads to dissatisfied or lost customers.
Let’s Take a Look at Statistics on Customer Service
- 82% of consumers look for an immediate response from brands on marketing or sales questions
- 96% of customers say customer service is important in their choice of loyalty to a brand
- Customers switching companies due to poor service cost U.S. companies a total of $1.6 trillion
These statistics highlight the importance of being where your customers are and leveraging the right technology to deliver consistent, contextual, and omnichannel customer engagement.
Leverage Digital and Social Sensing for Listening to Your Customers Anytime, Anywhere
To help you meet your customers’ expectations, an integrated digital and social sensing solution—backed by machine learning and artificial intelligence capabilities is the key. The solution will help you understand the pulse of your customers’ needs and:
- Understand their point of view and expectations from your organization
- Monitor and capture cross-channel conversations
- Analyze each interaction’s content and context to provide meaningful insights
- Analyze important keywords and identify the right sentiments
- Send and track relevant communications
The Final Word
The time is now for you to shift your focus from process or channel to your customers, and understand their needs, expectations, and perceptions to be able to successfully transform their experiences.
As a service delivery representative, I recently had to collaborate with the global in-house centers (GICs) of one of my customers. By definition, GICs are the offshore centers that perform designated functions for large organizations to minimize overall costs, enable access to better talent, and help operate their business smoothly.
The customer’s GICs were established across different regions, including Asia Pacific (APAC), Europe, the Middle East, Africa (EMEA), and North America/Latin America (NA/LA). Having their GICs spread across various regions, they lacked a unified view of business transactions. This pushed their management team to take an enterprise-wide decision to merge the Middle East and Asia Pacific GICs. The resulting accounting groups were Asia Pacific/Middle East (APME) and Europe/Africa (EA).
What got them stuck?
The middle eastern currencies were not getting mapped to the new APME centers while performing order fulfillment/realization and incident management (internal processes). The decision-makers couldn’t see the amounts being entered in the system. The business owner, who was working from the NA/LA region, did not flag the process properly, and so the issue lasted almost a month after the quarter closure, stalling the company’s complete accounting closure.
The organization faced some major challenges, including the lack of visibility and communication gap amongst users. Additionally, the IT infrastructure of the organization, which was set up in such a way that the order management/realization process and the incident management process were hosted in two different applications with no linking interface—thereby turning the processes opaque.
Plugging the gap!
In order to combat such challenges, a low code automation platform, integrated with intelligent digital automation (BPM) capabilities comes to rescue.
In practice, a better solution to the above-stated case would have been the implementation of a tracking mechanism, which could monitor the flow of orders in the middle eastern currencies at the APME GIC systems. In case any orders/revenue was not being processed in those currencies, the system would have proactively raised an alarm to the right stakeholders, requesting them to log an incident using the same platform.
As BPM brings together all the tools and technologies to help break through silos and connect organizational resources better, it helps in enabling a holistic process experience. This is one of the major reasons why the BPM industry thrives today. The emerging trends of 2019 in the BPM space highlight the inclusion of intelligent process modeling—essentially, leveraging a data-driven, process modeling approach to build a process seamlessly and across departments, interfaces, and geographical space.
In a commissioned study by Forrester on procurement transformation, one of the strategic objectives for the chief experience officers (CXOs) was to support better decision making by improving data analysis and insights. Further, the same study highlighted that insight-driven firms were more likely to report year over year revenue growth of at least 15%.
Another survey by KPMG & Harvey Nash highlighted that nearly 60% of digital leaders could not effectively analyze the data available to them without the right tools. Intelligent analytics, embedded into their processes, shed more light on process analysis and bottleneck detection, enabling CXOs to make informed and data-driven decisions.
Insight-driven platform to maximize operational excellence
While investment into an integrated management approach is a step in the right direction, enterprise resource planning is not able to deliver the levels of omniscience and value it promises in the context of business processes. At least not alone.
This is largely because of the conventional drill down/postmortem identification of issues. However, a comprehensive platform, coupled with data-driven insights, drives an alert-up approach while helping users take proactive measures.
The value of process insights is based on the macroeconomic concept—time value of money. The insight-driven platform not only reflects the existing process discrepancies, but it also involves a continuous learning module to aid informed decision making.
In the past, CXOs were unaware of the process inefficiencies bogging down their companies at the elementary level. However, with an insight-driven platform, they can know-it-all, from the very beginning. A robust platform, complemented by a data insight module, would be a game-changer in bridging silos, increasing organization-wide visibility, and maximizing operational effectiveness for companies of all sizes.
Imagine a scenario where your accounts department sends an invoice to your customer with a wrong address or a missing invoice number. May sound like minor glitches, but the impact could be major. It will delay the payment while leaving a dent on your goodwill. Last thing on your wish list. Right?
Well, any transactional delay in the processing of invoices hampers the production cycle, leading to revenue loss. And, when there are multiple offices of the same entity in different locations, efficient management of invoices becomes even more critical. In such cases, the invoicing users struggle to keep pace with the high volume of transactions. And, eventually, the leadership team starts facing difficulties due to lack of transparency in the process.
In order to avoid being impacted by a slow and opaque process, a reality check of the process becomes extremely important. Ask yourself:
- Do you face difficulty in verifying invoices with corresponding documents in real-time?
- Does it get difficult to manage mismatched data across purchase orders, invoices, and goods receipt notes?
- Do you seek swift and efficient management of exceptions while processing invoices?
- Do you often miss out on early payment discounts?
- Do you get hit by late payment penalties?
If yes, it’s time for you to act before it’s too late! You must optimize the end-to-end lifecycle of invoices and streamline cash flow management to ensure timely vendor payments and smooth day-to-day operations.
Automation (the right kind) is important!
To go by one of the findings, depending on an organization’s size and type, it takes an average of 7 days to process a single invoice and may go up to 17 days. The time taken to process an invoice has direct implications on the cost of operations, the productivity of the employees, and the straight-through processing ratio. These are integral key performance indexes while managing the process. Therefore, automation (the right kind) is important. Soon when you’ll begin evaluating solutions, you’ll come across two neatly divided types of vendors:
- Point solution providers, who would offer you a plug and play solutions to solve for your specific business requirements.
- Platform-based solution providers, who would have your end-to-end enterprise-wide requirements covered.
Out of the two, I undoubtedly prefer platform-based solution. Let’s see why:
- Point Solutions: Point solution, to you, may seem to be the quick and easy fix for a business need which is, in this case, invoice processing. But, if you look at the bigger picture, invoice processing is a part of a larger function i.e. procure-to-pay (P2P). And, P2P encompasses various other functions, including purchasing, supplier management, contract management, and others. Therefore, despite being a champion in one specific area, a point solution lacks flexibility and fails to drive agility in an organization. Not only that, the change management poses difficulties and in most of cases, there’s no scope for users to make alterations – all because of the predefined features set of these business solutions.
- Platform-based Solution: Platform-based solution, on the other hand, helps develop multiple applications in a low code environment using a single platform. This platform empowers organizations to automate simple department functions to complex enterprise-wide solutions. Based on the drag and drop model of the platform, your users can easily design processes based on requirements and manage business activities in a seamless manner.
Invoice management solution built on a business process management (BPM) suite comprise of configurable components like the rules engine and workflows that will help run invoicing management – your way! Leveraging BPM, you’ll have a single source of record, ensuring every invoicing transaction is tracked and audited in a timely, relevant and accurate manner. The use of multiple systems and applications, over time, results in data silos. BPM will bridge these silos by connecting your organization’s people, systems, processes, and things. There will be seamless information flow, streamlined processes, and timely communications. Contrary to getting into a chaos of maintaining operations across multiple entities, BPM will scale up easily in terms of geographic expansion or in terms of internal department inclusion. In addition, you’ll be able to leverage the integration between legacy systems and other disparate applications, without having to overhaul the entire system. There will be high visibility of data across the purchase to payment cycle and better operational control.
In short, a long-term solution is better than a short-term fix. With BPM, you’ll be able to achieve service excellence in invoice processing and minimize process cycle times to less than a day.