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“Your hip bone’s connected to your back bone Your back bone’s connected to your neck bone Your neck bone’s...

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“Your hip bone’s connected to your back bone

Your back bone’s connected to your neck bone

Your neck bone’s connected to your head bone

Let’s move those bones about”

~ American folk spiritual

We’ve heard about “business process transformation” for years.  But now that digital business transformation has arrived, it’s taken on a whole new sense of urgency. 

But where to begin – and how can digitization of a single sub-process bring value to an entire value chain?  Taking “here and now” process medicine may take the form of new technologies like Robotic Process Automation, to speed up, automate, and increase the throughput of existing (and creakingly “old school”) business processes.   But there may be a gnawing concern that applying a robot as a dance partner to an “as-is” process, for instance, still leaves organizations woefully short of the truly differentiated ballet of today’s high-flying, competitive outliers that have disrupted entire industries through process digitization.

Whatever the remedy, processes are becoming digital and as they do, they are being instrumented, analyzed, and increasingly operated by code instead of humans. 

For a lot of businesses, the idea of complete digital transformation of their end to end B2B or B2C process value chain may (rightly) seem overwhelming in scope.  For some industries that are about o get steamrollered (like hotel chains in the face of Airbnb, or taxis in the face of Uber), there may be no other choice than a total shift. But for others, a “non-invasive” surgical procedure – or application of “shiatsu” – to the process chain may be all that’s needed.  We’re not talking half-measures here either, but rather the application of targeted, precision-guided approach to digital change that yields maximum results. 

The bottom-line, conceptually, is that by pinpointing dated, outlier components of end-to-end processes, it’s highly likely that businesses can unlock or yield outsized value beyond the sum of parts through digital change.  The trick with process digitization is in finding the critical process bottle-necks, friction points, manual inputs or handoffs and pressure points in the information flow – where applying resources will result in the maximum outcome.  By relieving these pressure points, true process digitization can lead to business process outcomes that are far more valuable as a result.  

For example, how can the use of drone imagery yield outsize results for insurance actuarial and risk exposure?  How can digital wallets and iBeacon shopper awareness change retail in-store upsell?  In healthcare, if you crash your bike and get hurt, how can all steps of the claims process be instrumented and orchestrated digitally, where organizational handoffs are seamless and error-free? And, most important, how can a patient could focus on his or her recovery—not the hassle and irritation of the process?

The analogy of finding the right “pressure point” in an extended value chain seems an apt way to think about the right approach that businesses need to take. 

I’d like to hear from you... Of the two metaphors below, which do you think captures the essence of a precision application of change to a digitized process value chain?

  • “Digital Process Acupuncture”.  Acupuncture, of course, uses non-traditional approaches to find, heal, and relieve maladies by locating the precise pressure point mapped within the systems of the body.  Expending the analogy to process digitization does see very apt – but is acupuncture considered too “non-orthodox”, or worse, “quack medicine”?
  • “Arthroscopy for your Digital Process”. Instead of having to “crack open the chest” of a struggling end-to-end business process, how can “non-invasive and surgical” approaches apply precision, targeted approaches for healing?  Extending this analogy to digital process value chains seems apropos – but is arthroscopy “too mainstream” when non-traditional alternatives (like acupuncture) are called for in the new frontiers of digital? 

Like the old SNL skit, Quien es mas macho? Mas mejor? Acupuntura o la artroscopia? Do you like the process “Acupuncture” theme, or “Arthroscopy”?  Let me know what YOU think... And stay tuned in the coming months for some super-cool new research from the Center for the Future of Work that sheds light – and brand new data – into the impact these techniques are having on real companies, today (and tomorrow). 

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