This is a continuation of last week’s report, IT Services to Enable the New Model Workforce – Part I.

This section covers:

  • Workplace automation
  • Workplace digitization breaking up department silos
  • Design thinking in workforce transformation
  • The Work Intelligence Platform (WIP)
  • The workforce hub model
  • Snapshot profiles of IT service providers for new model workforce projects
 
 

Deploying the Digital Workforce

 
 

At present, the most popular technology being adopted in workplace transformation is Robotic Process Automation (RPA). Software vendors such as Automation Anywhere, Blue Prism, UiPath and WorkFusion build programs that can run processes without human intervention.

However, to create digital workers, scripted RPA technology alone is not enough. Scripted knowledge needs to be combined with ML capabilities to create a wider knowledge base that can drive the development of the digital workforce.

Most enterprises begin using digital workforce agents in the front office, by, for example, providing FAQs in the call center via Alexa or Google Doc voice-to-text technology.

However, there is also a huge opportunity to introduce digital workers into the back office to optimize and remove errors in managing requests, changes of address, complaints and so on. For regulated industries, digital workers can also maximize back-office regulatory compliance.

Workforce automation typically starts with internal line-of-business teams taking a DIY approach to bringing RPA into organizations. The next step, bringing together BPM and AI technologies to produce intelligent process automation, is challenging to achieve without incurring technology debt.

Digital agents are pieces of software and need to be integrated with an organization’s existing technology ecosystem for sustainability and platform ownership. They also require backup processes and planning.

As enterprises move from RPA to intelligent automation, they typically seek external advice, creating an opportunity for the consultancy and system integrator community to offer digital workforce automation services.

 
 

From Digital Workplace to Digital Workforce

 
 

One of the main attributes of digital business is that it does not respect existing boundaries in terms of sectors, processes or models. This is as true of the work environment as of anything else.

In business, the expectation is that:

  • Workplace IT services will manage end-user devices, productivity software, and the underlying infrastructure and tech support;
  • HR departments will manage processes to do with the employee lifecycle from recruitment to retirement or exit;
  • Sales, marketing and customer services will deal with the consumer-facing end of the business.

None of these silos work in the liquid enterprise.

These areas of expertise begin to overlap – the use of digital agents and chat bots brings IT services into areas that were traditionally the preserve of HR and customer services, respectively. ServiceNow has been signaling this change for several years with the development of its eponymous platform to automate standard business service requests.

Generally speaking, neither the system integrator/outsourcing community nor its clients are connecting digital workplace transformation with digital workforce development to automate business processes and deploy chat bots. Most professional service organizations keep these areas of expertise in separate teams, though they often have a ‘digital service account manager’ or someone in a similar position to proactively identify opportunities that cut across expertise silos.

Enabling the liquid enterprise requires projects that incorporate the user perspective into tools and processes that proactively enhance the employee experience and align it with business goals. To be successful, the leaders of these projects need to understand that delivering new workplace technology is not transformational in itself. They also need end-user buy-in to change the culture, as well as careful management of technology adoption.

A successful transformation project involves a consultative element that is best delivered via workshops, and ideally takes advantage of ‘design thinking’ techniques.

 
 

Design Thinking in Workforce Transformation

 
 

Design thinking is an iterative process that sets out to understand the user, challenge ‘common sense’ assumptions, and redefine problems in an attempt to identify alternative strategies and solutions. At the same time, it provides a practical problem-solving approach to issues. This method helps team members observe and develop empathy with the target user, and establish new, employee-centric ways of working.

Once businesses add design thinking to workforce transformation projects, it becomes obvious that the IT, business and HR teams must come together. For example, applying design thinking from the employee back through to an organization’s desired business goals can reveal hidden organizational challenges between customer-facing projects and back-office functions, and the journey mapping necessary to overcome this process friction.

 
 

Tooling the New Model Workforce

 
 

Digital transformation spotlights the need to more closely tie together employee motivation optimization with organizational execution.

Much of the mobile-centric ‘work anytime, anywhere,’ enterprise-network-centric ‘connected workplaces,’ and HR-centric talk of ‘employee engagement’ has focused narrowly on remote working, modern networking, compensation, and benefits. From collaboration, content and work management vendors, the ‘working better, faster and more collaboratively’ narratives are very generalized. The emphasis many companies like to place on their corporate values and social responsibility as the backdrop to positive work cultures increasingly sounds naïve: disconnected from both business goals and employee experiences.

What has been missing is concentration on employee-driven work execution culture: how WorkOps, as delivered through work tools, practices and arrangements, can tessellate to focus more time and energy on ensuring effective business outcomes and more tightly attribute those outcomes to worker contribution.

There is a profound cultural shift at play, moving away from technology dictating how users work and toward technology allowing users to decide how they individually work best. Part of this shift also involves the use of automation to relieve employees of boring, repetitive tasks, as well as to support them by providing insight that can enhance their job satisfaction and improve their performance.

With new and more discerning generations entering the workplace, and with more businesses realizing the direct correlation between satisfied workers and satisfied customers, we will see many of the tenets of a compelling, friction-free and contextual customer experience become a template for managing the worker experience. It will become commonplace to find businesses outfitting themselves with technologies that unify and manage experience. Based on multi-node graphs, powered by ML, these technologies will uncover intelligence from HR systems and productivity applications, increasing the lifetime value of workers.

Welcome changes include:

  • Gradual acceptance of bring-your-own technologies
  • More user-focused features within applications, allowing more control over the user experience
  • The acceptance of remote and mobile working

But these changes don’t satisfy workers’ psychological and emotional needs.

 
 

Exploring the Work Intelligence Platform

 
 

Productivity tools have heavily downplayed the ‘softer’ benefits of purposeful social connectedness (as opposed to just messaging), play-based learning, self-mastery, excitement and spontaneity, whereas consumer software has been extremely successful at driving engagement and stimulating creativity, both increasingly recognized as key components of a workforce’s productivity.

Digital workforce automation via the introduction of digital agents should form part of this broader move to enable self-realization, job satisfaction and greater productivity.

Chris Marsh conceptualizes the goal of this movement as the ‘work intelligence platform’ (WIP). The figure below illustrates the stages of progress toward this white space.

 
 
Defining the WIP White Space
 
 

Consultancies and system integrators working with clients in this space are now attempting to develop their own concepts of work intelligence platforms – not as products, but as assets from which to deliver their own services more efficiently and effectively.

For example, HCL Technologies has developed its EmpFinesse Platform (underpinned by knowledge bases known as the HR Brain, the IT Brain and the Admin Brain) that addresses workforce-machine partnerships, smart learning framed by enterprise business goals, and an element of the Internet of Things (IoT) managing enterprise devices in the context of business systems and processes.

Another example is the employee experience platform being developed by Atos. This platform has created the concept of the ‘chief happiness officer’ to guide each employee on their daily work journey, learning from insights using different data sets at the division or team level. Over time, as the platform has more data, its intelligence increases and its engagement at the personal employee level grows.

Platforms such as these form a crucial part of the shift from digital workplace transformation to the creation of the new model workforce.

 
 

The Workforce Hub Model

 
 

When they stop and think about it, senior management teams recognize that workforce management needs to change to support the liquid enterprise. However, many tactical and strategic initiatives already underway do not support the changes.

Commonly, central IT will be running ongoing digital workplace transformation projects while business lines manage multiple tactical deployments of digital workforces. There is typically no alignment between digital workplace and digital workforce projects, and each often has a different budget holder. On top of that, the internal HR team is often not involved in any of these projects until it must react to a problem.

 
 
The enterprise challenge for creating a digital workforce
 
 

It is unrealistic to expect that enterprises will rip and replace investments they have already made, so starting with a tabula rasa is not an option.

One workaround starts with bringing together the different business unit decision-makers that have pursued workforce automation projects, along with the HR team and representatives of the IT team who are responsible for digital workplace services. The enterprise will then have hub of expertise for the new model workforce, as shown below. This group of people should work with external third parties to develop the necessary platform. A chief digital officer, innovation officer or (as is present in a handful of organizations) employee experience officer can make this endeavor easier, evangelizing the approach and making the final decisions.

 
 
Overcoming the Enterprise Challenge for Creating  a Digital Workforce
 
 

Overcoming the Enterprise Challenge for Creating a Digital Workforce

 
 

Enterprises wanting to work toward a new model workforce should be looking for third-party vendors that offer a blend of services for workforce automation, digital workplace, employee experience and HR, as well as a platform that unifies and manages employee experience to increase the lifetime value of workers.

IT service providers have typically not yet come to market with offerings that directly target the requirements of WorkOps. Largely this is because consultancies and system integrators are driven by market demand rather than themselves setting the transformation agenda. However, two vendors seem to be ahead in developing specific offerings that address the WorkOps challenge: Atos and HCL Technologies. Several other vendors have the components and capabilities in place to offer services that can help with the workaround.

 
 
IT service company capabilities for creating a digital workforce
 
 

Most IT service providers will be able to offer consultancy services to help clients with the discovery phase for employee experience. Design thinking skills should form part of this capability. Providers will typically also have service platforms that bring together a variety of technologies to help clients intelligently automate and digitize processes to support WorkOps. Each will usually have a methodology for the initial implementation and piloting of processes, which it can then take through to production deployment from its platform.

Some service providers also offer AI labs or center-of-excellence support to help train teams within client organizations on the technologies involved in digital workforce automation. Typically, this knowledge transfer involves the automation technology component of projects, as far fewer IT service providers have yet developed WorkOps capabilities that can support skills transfer for the HR dimension and business change management requirements.

The list below represents the companies that have participated in forming this report and provides a little more information on their capabilities to support WorkOps.

 
 

ATOS

 
 

Atos provides digital workplace outsourcing that proactively includes digital workforce automation, using bots and AI at the business process and application levels. The company also offers employee experience platform services.

Atos is carving out a differentiated position with its plans to combine more mundane workplace technology migration with AI-enabled services, such as the Chief Happiness Officer.

 
 

COMPUTACENTER

 
 

Computacenter’s Digital Me offering is delivered via its Next Generation Service Desk portal, mobile app, analytics and knowledge search engine.

The roadmap for Digital Me includes desktop as a service, Google G-Suite, AI, cognitive and automated language processes, contextual and analytical security, and identity management. The focus is IT infrastructure and tech support services.

Computacenter’s Tech Bar is a strong illustration of how the benefits of automation can allow human staff to pursue more interesting roles when relieved of important but repetitive tasks.

 
 

DXC TECHNOLOGY

 
 

DXC Bionix takes advantage of AI and RPA technologies. When working with customers, DXC deploys Bionix at scale, using its toolkit and blueprints across its infrastructure, applications and business process services. It then onboards the automated offerings to Platform DXC, a Bionix-enabled agile process automation (APA) platform that uses embedded AI technology to enhance business processes.

DXC Bionix was conceived as a service delivery model, taking advantage of intelligent automation, that would run across all of the company’s nine offering families, managed as one strategy for the entire business. It includes a set of tools for various types of automation, along with a framework for applying automation at scale that is repeatable and data-driven across the offerings.

 
 

FUJITSU

 
 

Fujitsu's capability is built around its three pillars of automation. The first covers process optimization, and uses tooling such as Pegasystems, its own RunMyProcess, ServiceNow and Salesforce’s SFDC. The second pillar is RPA, where Fujitsu mostly works with tooling from UiPath, Blue Prism, Thoughtonomy and Kapow Software.

The third pillar is Fujitsu’s own Zinrai platform for AI. In addition, the company works with other platforms such as IBM’s Watson and IPsoft’s Amelia.

Fujitsu also has a strong digital workplace capability.

Fujitsu’s Business Application Services go to market around four disciplines, one of which is mastering enterprise productivity.

Its XpressWay approach goes some way toward answering criticisms that it does not have the necessary skills to consult around such engagements. Each project stage is made up of individually priced XpressBlocks that have clearly defined outcomes. Customers choose the components they want, and can join or leave at any stage in the process, only paying for what has been used. As part of the approach, Fujitsu helps the customer organization build its transformative muscle with skills transfer.

 
 

GENPACT

 
 

Using its Cora platform, Genpact combines RPA, bots and analytics to apply AI to bot-generated data. Use cases begin with customer journeys for business process outsourcing and BPM.

Genpact ensures that processes are properly specified by using its own tools, such as ProcIndex, which assesses process maturity prior to automation. If there are gaps in the process that can be automated, Genpact then applies its Intelligent Automation Index to determine the potential of the process for RPA, ML and cognitive technologies.

Genpact has built consulting services, industry and horizontal-focused digital products, and productized services – all using its Cora platform. The platform is an enabler because it is selling services that take advantage of Cora to provide speed, agility and sustainable innovation for clients. It also means that clients can build on their initial Genpact Cora investments with more advanced technologies as they become available, all orchestrated through Cora.

 
 

HCL TECHNOLOGIES

 
 

HCL has developed its EmpFinesse platform to support the transformation of the enterprise workforce. The platform makes use of machine guidance, intelligence and automation to create an enhanced digital experience that can help cultivate enterprise knowledge and productivity. HCL has also formed a digital workforce practice with change management skills.

HCL is taking a market-leading position among service integrators in developing a separate digital workforce practice to focus on the opportunity around helping customers deploy automation and AI to make their workforces more productive and effective. This approach, combined with its DRYiCE service delivery platform and the development of its EmpFinesse platform, provides the company with a very strong and clearly articulated market proposition.

 
 

IBM

 
 

IBM Automation, along with the company’s broader professional service experience, spans industries and process domains from front and middle office to back office, including business and IT operations.

IBM has also invested heavily in design thinking capabilities and provides online access to this expertise via its Enterprise Design Thinking service.

Overall, the company has introduced more than 10,000 digital workers to IBM operations, running processes for IBM and its clients. It has a range of tools and accelerators, including the IBM Digital Business Automation Platform, that bring together heterogeneous tooling and the IBM Automation Command Center for realtime optimization of the digital workforce.

 
 

INFOSYS

 
 

The Infosys AI and Automation service line has several offerings. It provides AI and atomation strategy support at both a business and a technology level, as well as a digital process automation capability. Infosys also offers AI Automation training.

Infosys Brilliant Basics has also recently launched an Employee Experience service line, which addresses digital services such as automation, AI and attracting talent alongside the physical and emotional experiences of work.

For Infosys, the whole concept of the digital workforce has come into being over the past year or so, driven by the adoption of automation and AI technologies.

Infosys has a central AI and automation service line that seeks to partner directly with customers and then bring in different groups within the organization, based on client needs.

 
 

TCS

 
 

TCS is using automation and AI technologies to help differentiate in many different business areas. It has been applying its ignio platform to support IT automation for several years and is bringing these technologies to bear in its application and process services.

TCS has a cloud-based talent management platform derived from its own global workforce experience of creating an integrated process around employee-centric HR practices. Based on survey work and incorporating collaborative learning, continuous feedback, and social collaboration, CHROMA was built to support next-generation talent management practices.

 
 

Conclusions

 
 

Incumbent organizations are beginning to recognize the need to change workforce management to evolve into liquid enterprises that can compete in the digital economy. If there was a category-defining platform available to address the requirements of the new model workforce, building on existing technology investment decisions, there would undoubtedly be a much faster uptake of employee experience projects. Until software vendors and service providers catch up, enterprises should consider the following:

First, each enterprise will have fistfuls of projects, tackling digital transformation requirements spanning IT service support, the automation of HR processes, the deployment of automation for different back-office functions and customer experience improvement work. It is not unusual for system integrators to unearth between 10 and 20 projects siloed in different parts of the enterprise, each with the potential to provide more agility, but none operating at scale.

Typically, end-to-end process thinking is not being applied, understandably, because getting cross-business buy-in to a project is difficult without senior executive leadership. With such leadership, it may be possible to orchestrate some of the initiatives that are already underway in a form that enables proper communication.

This leadership, in the form of a Chief Digital Officer, Innovation Officer or Employee Experience Officer, is also critical for overcoming resistance to changing work methods. Second, although the off-the-shelf work intelligence platform does not yet exist, companies can take steps to prepare either for its arrival or for the use of ML to develop the internal knowledge bases required.

Knowledge management can be a big inhibitor to change, especially where written sources directly contradict one another. The knowledge base needs to be fixed while live knowledge continues to be developed. Sometimes, data science graph techniques can address holes and gaps in the data. In other cases, experienced employees themselves can help to codify knowledge by developing their top 10 fixes for workflows and processes.

Third, when it comes to digital workforce automation, it is best to begin with simple tasks with limited exceptions that offer quick productivity gains. (Examples include assisting agents or process workers in email sorting or quality checks for auditing.) Too often, organizations begin workforce automation projects by looking at big processes that involve a large human headcount. Such a process may need many human workers to handle a number of exceptions, which regularly block straight-through processing and so will prove more complex to automate.

Finally, the lack of a commercially available software product that squarely fits the work intelligence platform requirements means that most large enterprises attempting extensive digital workforce projects engage with management consulting companies to plan the overall roadmaps and then come to market for RFPs from system integrators to implement them.

However, as there is no ‘plug-in’ solution available, there is usually another consultative technical and business functionality layer of work that needs to be undertaken to enable at-scale adoption. While management consultancies are well-placed to assist with organizational readiness requirements in a given process area, such as HR, the client will still need to work with the system integrator on the technical and business design requirements.