Digital workflows: We’re just getting started


Research Spotlight

Digital workflows can enhance collaboration and work quality. Imagine the payoffs when companies fully embrace them.

Workflow Quarterly dives deep into one topic in each issue, presenting original research and reporting in an immersive online experience. In  the inaugural issue , renowned IT strategy scholar Thomas Davenport explains how digital workflows can improve the employee experience and help companies drive higher profits.

Our survey of more than 6,000 employees on the business value of digital workflows and automation shows impressive results, but the future looks even more promising than the present.

Roughly 8 in 10 employees from highly automated companies say automation technology simplifies work processes, enhances efficiency, and boosts productivity. They also say it improves job satisfaction, and increase both time available for creativity and opportunities for advancement. 

Yet most automated processes today tend to be confined to highly structured and back-office tasks, such as installing software, setting up passwords, and tracking invoices. The use of automation in collaborative tasks and knowledge work—such as decision-making, strategy, and new product development—is limited. Surveyed workers reported that only 27% of the processes they worked with were highly automated or automated. This was true regardless of company size.

Boeing, the world’s largest aerospace company, is investing significantly into process automation. After more than 100 years in business, it has launched an enterprise-wide “Second Century Enterprise Systems” initiative that aims for total digital transformation. As Rob Muszkiewicz, senior manager of Operations Transformation in Boeing’s IT organization, explained to Davenport:

“We are on a journey with ServiceNow—some capabilities are in production—and we have also done a lot with RPA. We have already eliminated hundreds of thousands of work hours in areas like invoicing reconciliation, for example. But Second Century is first and foremost a business process transformation, including a consolidation into single systems in engineering, manufacturing, and even HR to support processes in those areas. We will be looking at the potential for automating cross-functional workflows throughout the company.”

When business processes are simplified, work becomes easier.

“We need to become much more efficient and remove manual toil, so that people can do higher-value work,” said Muszkiewicz.

Visit Workflow Quarterly for the full interactive article.    

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