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December 18, 2018

It is astounding to see how machines are becoming an integral part of mankind faster than ever before. As Alexa, Bixby, Cortana, Siri, and Google assistant become omnipresent, virtual assistants are paving the way for Google Duplex like solutions in a short span of just four years. Key research predictions forecast about 56 million smart speaker sales worldwide by the end of 2018. Delighting customers and offering an enriching digital experience is witnessing an orbital shift – from using traditional CRM and CEM systems to leveraging bot-to-bot communication. Three out of four global decision makers believe that bots with artificial intelligence will play a fundamental role in increasing their topline growth and ensuring complete optimization.

What does this mean for enterprises and global digerati?

Developing a formal digital workforce strategy is dictating the business goals of enterprises. And for this, global digerati must combat the natural inertia that comes from their comfortable positions of monopoly or scale. In the new paradigm, Business 4.0™ can prove to be the best guiding principle to create a strategy for the entire ecosystem and generate sustainable value. Here are four ways to adapt to this new era and build a ‘truly’ digital workforce:

1. Understand customer needs: Disputation techniques such as Generative Adversarial Networks lies at the heart of building a robust digital workforce. In this regard, it is important to address questions such as:

  • What do we know about customers?
  • What are their unsolved problems?
  • What have we failed to consider (false positives)?   

Driving personalization at the transaction level by continuously revisiting customer needs will not only help to craft meaningful companion bots but also define the degree of automation required for repetitive tasks. Integrating intelligent digital workforce with various offerings of a firm helps elevate customer experience (CX) to intelligent experience (IX).

2. Minimize delays rather than focusing on hitting preset targets: The world is more connected than ever before and demands instant gratification and on-demand solutions. Nowadays, organizations are characterized as fast or slow firms, rather than big or small firms.  Fostering a highly aligned, loosely coupled team supplemented with the right digital workforce helps a firm become fast, flexible, and at the same time, grow rapidly. Incredible speed is the key competitive differentiator for creating exponential value.

3. Create competitive altruism: On the one hand, digital has been a boon for new entrants reducing entry barriers. But on the other, it is also decreasing the shelf life of enterprises that work in silos. The way forward is to foster exclusive early partnerships and incubation of digital start-ups, thereby boosting competition. Additionally, leveraging the ecosystem helps quickly mature the capabilities of the digital workforce by harnessing the abundance of data and divergent thinking of a vast connected ecosystem. Think of it the way blockchain harnesses abundance of data to make connections and ensure transparency.  

4. Overcome traditional issues: A digital workforce is fully equipped and capable of complementing the human workforce in innumerable ways. However, there is a lot of field to be covered in the zone of proximal development. It is important to embrace risk by proactively introducing variance in creating a range of experiments and testing them. Experiments should be performed on a wide range of options - close to and distant from the core business - to enable organic development of the digital workforce.

In all this, the importance of data privacy, security, and compliance cannot be overstated. Clearly, Business 4.0™ is the compass for organizations that are on a digital transformation journey and are keen to cultivate a digital workforce to enhance business outcomes and outperform the competition.

Suhas J is a Managing Partner with the Enterprise Transformation group within TCS’ HiTech business unit. He works on next-generation digital transformation engagements and has been part of several strategic solutions consulting and implementation projects for TCS’ global clients. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Engineering (Computer Science) from BMSCE, Bengaluru, India and a post-graduate degree in management (strategy and information systems) from Católica Lisbon School of Business and Economics, Europe. He has also completed an executive education program on ‘Strategy in the Digital Era’ from the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad, India.


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