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The six design tenets of future-ready operations

Ashok Pai

Global Head of Cognitive Business Operations, TCS

More than ever, the requirements of enterprise operations have become a balance of growth and risk. Long tasked with ‘keeping the lights on,’ those in charge of operations are understandably wary of disruption. But as digital transformation accelerates, operations roles and expectations are rapidly evolving.

Change is as necessary as it is inevitable, and for many organizations disruption – and its close partner, innovation – have already ushered in an era of exponential business value. The 2021 TCS Global Leadership Study reports that organizations rank innovation as a cultural priority well above shareholder value and financial performance. After all, the ability and mindset of innovation frequently drives the other two.

How well an organization is positioned for innovation will be critical to seize new, disruptive opportunities. As a key partner of growth and transformation, operations teams that can successfully  deliver value in the future will need to realign their KPIs with business outcomes.

If the end goal is to maintain a resilient, adaptable enterprise that is highly responsive to customer needs, what factors will enable success? And out of myriad technologies, business models and processes, which ones can bring measurable results?

While each organization’s requirements will vary, there are certain key elements that consistently enable successful operations and business outcomes. These elements, outlined in this two-part series, can help operations adapt to new and better ways of driving business value.

6 Key Elements

  • Break down the IT, IT infrastructure and business ops silos
  • Develop an agile mindset
  • Maintain digital momentum
  • Embrace secure by design
  • Prioritize competitive workspaces and skill sets
  • Drive ecosystem partnerships

Above all, break the siloes  

Siloed IT, IT infrastructure and business operations – the three arms of operations – can hinder the realization of the immense value that exists at the intersection of these layers. Enterprises that bring these services under a single CXO can gain a significant business edge.

Case study: A leading Asia-Pacific based utility provider leveraged an integrated operations framework and enabled digital transformation across the customer onboarding, meter to cash, and retention value chain. The enterprise achieved >90% customer satisfaction, reduced cost to serve, and saw a significant improvement in cash flow.

Develop an agile mindset

Agile operations start with a mindset change that leads to a dual operating model: operate and improve. An agile team makes incremental improvements through an overarching framework built on visualization of work, collective wisdom and change-ready teams.

Case study: A global market research major faced a longer lead time for a critical activity. Agile methodologies and problem-solving techniques helped the team reduce the lead time from 12 to 6 days. Multiple sprints resulted in a faster time to market and prevented losses of more than US$200k.

Maintain digital momentum

As organizations move through and past the pandemic, digital capabilities remain a high priority. A TCS survey of nearly 300 large companies found that despite the upheaval during the first few months of the pandemic, 90% of organizations maintained or even increased their digital investments. Integration across IT and business operations helps ensure investments are aligned with an organization’s business strategy – where it is and where it’s going. 

  • Digital-first cloud. As the new ERP, cloud is often the first step in a digital transformation and the foundation of an integrated enterprise and competitive advantage. 

Case study: A global telecommunications company migrated its R&D environment for 5G products and services from on-prem to cloud, enabling 10X times faster new product development life cycle enabling the firm to continue the market leadership despite tough competitive environment.

  • Data-driven insights. Data-mining technologies bring new sources of data and real-time insights for better business decision-making.

Case study: By deploying a cognitive business command center for their O2C (order to cash) processes, a global chemical organization improved order tracking and predicting order failures to take proactive action to ensure timely supply, improving on-time orders fulfillment from 71% to 93%.

  • Automation. Widespread automation and advanced analytics – such as AI, ML and NLP – can facilitate end-to end processes and tasks for greater efficiency and accuracy.

Case study: A leading oil and gas drilling company that implemented hyper automation with in-built machine learning algorithms for its procure-to-pay process helped predict spend data and helped reduce maverick spends in procurement transactions from 5% to 3.8%.

Next up: security, skillsets, and partnerships
In this blog, we outlined several of the key elements that can help operations prepare a new path forward, including breaking through silos, developing an agile mindset, and maintaining digital momentum. The second part of this blog covers additional elements key to the future of operations: the rising importance of security by design, evolving workplaces and skillsets, and the technological and cultural shifts ecosystem partnerships will require. 

About the author

Ashok Pai
Ashok Pai is TCS’ global head of cognitive business operations. He helps organizations use digital technologies to reimagine business models, products, processes, and services. He also helps enterprises make major cost and operational improvements through digital transformation. Ashok previously led TCS’ business process services team and was responsible for more than 100 customers across the globe. He holds a master’s degree from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Mumbai.