After two years out, it was a great pleasure to join SSON’s premier in-person event for shared services and global business services (GBS) – SSOW UK & Ireland. We had some great conversations with shared services and GBS leaders on the challenges of COVID-19 and the startling progress of automation in their organisations.
<intro>Here’s a summary of our key observations and the major digital transformation trends from the event:<intro>
A perception gap between shared services and the business
Shared services and GBS leaders know how much value they create for the business. However, in the minds of many in the C-suite, shared services is still part of the ‘back office’. It’s viewed as a cost centre, rather than the driver of growth, productivity and profit it should be.
It’s important for shared services and GBS leaders to have the data and metrics to back up their performance. Visibility into every manual process will also enable them to discover more opportunities for efficiency and business value.
CX is now at the heart of shared services
Shared services continues to evolve in line with business demands. An initial focus on transactions and then solutions has now transitioned to a much more customer-centric approach. In the aftermath of COVID-19, optimising how internal clients work and receive support has never been more important. However, as business becomes more decentralised and complex, shared services only has more and more plates to keep spinning - with the thoughts and opinions of clients being central to this.
To stay on top, it’s essential that shared services understands the drivers of workflow and requests - across every channel, at speed and at scale.
Process insight is at a premium
Shared services and GBS leaders recognise the value of on-the-ground experience and insight from frontline agents and employees. The leading organisations have established daily stand-ups with their teams to try and understand causes of friction and areas for improvement. Process Mining is also a popular tool for understanding how key processes are performing.
However, big gaps in intelligence remain. Manual communications processes - such as email and support tickets - remain major sources of process inefficiency and valuable insight. Yet shared services leaders have little visibility into these channels.
Self-service is the ultimate goal
Inbound requests to the service centre overwhelmingly take the form of tasks and ‘asks’ - requests that start workflows, or common questions from internal customers. Self-service is being pursued as the end goal, to lessen demand and take the pressure off agents. To achieve this, leaders are adopting case management and automation solutions.
However, a great deal of inbound requests are expressed in natural, conversational language. More work needs to be done to digitise this information and make it suitable for end-to-end automation.
RPA is established, AI is emerging
When asked to rate their technical capabilities, shared services leaders felt they were much stronger in automation than they were in machine learning or AI. We know that almost three-quarters (72%) of organisations have already implemented RPA solutions, which are helping remove many transactional requests from agent workflows. Yet RPA success isn’t universal. Nearly half (46%) of shared services organisations fail to exceed more than 10% in savings with the technology.
To drive further gains and improvements, shared services leaders are beginning to seriously consider the business benefits of a broader toolset and wider range of AI solutions. Indeed, 67% now consider natural language processing (NLP) an important investment priority to extract data from emails.