Process Optimisation

The Latest

16 November 2021: BlackLine launched its new accounts receivable (AR) tool, which it claims is the first unified platform for end-to-end cash flow optimisation in the industry. The software features intelligent optical character recognition (OCR) to eliminate manual work and reduce process errors. It also allows the predictability of customer payments when building cash flow forecasts. 

Why it’s Important

More organisations are adopting e-invoicing to take advantage of automation features, reduced printing costs, shorter payment delays and faster delivery times. As noted in our previous advisory The ERP: A critical IT application for the business, more Australian organisations are joining the trend of transforming their finance processes by replacing their ERP finance systems with a scalable Cloud-based ERP system that offers seamless integration to other business applications and streamlines backend business processes. 

Recently, IBRS conducted a study into the economics of ERP and Cloud solutions to find out the best ROI on their tech investments. A common answer among mid-size organisations and government agencies is the value of financial automation in relation to labour hours. On average, they reported productivity savings of between 0.5 and 3 full-time equivalent (FTE) roles when they switched to e-invoicing. Interestingly, the same benefit was cited by respondents in our 2019-2020 study on local governments in the country.

There are challenges to e-invoicing adoption, however. Apart from the perceived complexity and difficulty of most organisations in getting up to speed in their transition, employees worry about the threat of being made redundant in the near future.

IBRS discovered, however, that senior leadership teams transfer employees impacted by the reduction in labour hours to other roles where their skills are applicable. Organisations that go down this path gain more control in carefully managing their employee concerns. E-invoicing has become a foundational solution for better process management to establish digital relationships with their partners and internal staff.

Who’s impacted

  • CFO
  • CIO

What’s Next?

Before upgrading the financial platform, review the context of your current organisational and ICT strategy. Consider how the platform supports full ‘end-to-end’ processes that are integrated with other business software systems so that appropriate touchpoints are captured and understood. By doing so, the platform can meet its expected impact on your financial metrics and process requirements.

Related IBRS Advisory

  1. A review of ERP finance systems
  2. The ERP: A critical IT application for the business
  3. Replace or reinvigorate today's ERP Solution now
  4. Turning data analysis from an art to a science

The Latest

3 August 2021: Salesforce has announced an agreement to acquire Servicetrace, a robotics process automation vendor. This marks another milestone in Salesforce’s strategy to deliver enterprise SaaS solutions surrounded by a mesh of low-code process automation and integration. It is also evidence of how the previously disparate markets for low-code application development tools, RPA, process mapping, and integration tools are consolidating into a service mesh that goes beyond process digitisation. In this case, when coupled with enterprise SaaS, the sum is greater than the parts.

Why it’s Important.

In the IBRS trends report for 2021-2026, a fourth-wave of ICT was detailed. The crest of this wave is the rapid consolidation of low-code, process mapping, RPA and (soon) rules engines, and AI.  

However, IBRS case studies with scores of executives involved in Cloud migration strategies, suggest that many organisations ICT groups are resistant to the coming wave. This is mainly due to sunk costs in on-premises software and infrastructure, the difficulty in justifying costs of integrating disparate systems and, at least to some degree, concerns over losing control or lacking skills to manage core infrastructure.

The cost of integration coupled with the need for digitising manual processes is currently a real economic barrier. Financial modelling suggests that the labour and costs of integrating disparate (on-premises and Cloud) solutions can destroy the return on investments for Cloud migration in the near to mid-term (1-5 years). This is especially problematic for industries with a complex mix of specialist enterprise solutions, such as healthcare and utilities. 

Who’s impacted

  • CIO
  • Development team leads
  • Business analysts

What’s Next?

Organisations that have previously rejected Cloud migrations due to not being able to make the financials stack up should consider re-evaluating the decision in 2022, taking into account the potential of buying into a mesh ecosystem that unifies low-code, workflow, process mapping, RPA rules engines and possibly AI services and that supports SaaS enterprise solutions ‘out of the box’.

Enterprise architects should also consider a shift towards a fourth-wave of ICT will impact their organisation’s ICT architecture and, if needed, begin planning to evolve to a new environment.

Related IBRS Advisory

  1. Hammering Low-Code into Place Takes Time
  2. Mulesoft Believes it Can Accelerate Digital Customer Experiences on SAP
  3. Salesforce introduces Hyperforce
  4. Salesforce Einstein automate

Conclusion

The growing maturity of data handling and analytics is driving interest in data catalogues. Over the past two years, most of the major vendors in the data analytics field have either introduced or are rapidly evolving their products to include data cataloguing.

Data catalogues help data users identify and manage their data for processing and analytics. Leading data cataloguing tools leverage machine learning (ML) and other search techniques to expose and link data sets in a manner that improves access and consumability.

However, a data catalogue is only beneficial when the organisation already has a sufficient level of maturity in how it manages data and analytics. Data literacy (the skills and core concepts that support data analytics) must also be established in the organisation’s user base to leverage full benefits from the proposed data catalogue.

Organisations considering data catalogues must have a clear picture of how to use this new architecture, and be realistic in how ready they are to leverage the technology. Furthermore, different organisations have unique and dynamic data attributes, so there is no one-type-fits-all data catalogue in the marketplace.

Conclusion

Whilst many enterprises have successfully implemented a bring your own device (BYOD) mobile policy, many have put this in the too-hard basket fearing a human resources (HR) backlash.

Revisiting the workplace mobile policy can reduce operating costs associated with device loss, breakages, and unwarranted device allocation. IT service delivery operating costs have been increasing annually as more sophisticated and expensive handsets hit the market. Meanwhile, mobile applications are creating increased security concerns which add to asset management and monitoring costs.

Now is the time to take stock and transform the organisation’s mobility space by creating a shared responsibility with staff. Mobile phone allowances are fast becoming the norm with a multitude of different models now being adopted. Choose the one that delivers cost savings across the board as there are both direct and indirect costs associated with each option.

The Latest

20 March 2021: GorillaStack has released capabilities that allows it to monitor and apply governance rules to any external service that communicates with AWS EventBridge.

Why it’s Important

GorillaStack is one of the earliest vendors to address the complexities of Cloud cost management, having started in Australia in 2015 and moved to having strong growth in the international market. In May 2020, GorillaStack was acquired by the switzerland-based SoftwareOne.

Like its international competitors, GorillaStack moved from helping organisations monitor and optimise their Cloud spend, to monitoring the Cloud ecosystems for performance and security concerns. This recent announcement suggests that the next phase of growth for organisations in the Cloud cost optimisation space is not only to detect events in Cloud infrastructure, but also external services, and then apply rules to perform specific actions on those events. Such rules can not only automatically help reduce Cloud spend by enforcing financial governance directly into the Cloud infrastructure, but also helping to enforce security rules.

Who’s Impacted

  • CIO
  • Development team leads
  • Business analysts

What’s Next?

Cloud cost optimisation is already an important discipline for organisations with mature Cloud teams. Like software asset management (SAM), tools alone will not see organisations optimise their expenditure on Cloud services. An understanding of the disciplines required and setting up appropriate rules is needed. In addition, IBRS notes that many less-mature organisations have a ‘sprawl’ of Cloud services that need to first be identified and then reigned in before cost optimisations products can be fully effective. 

Related IBRS Advisory

  1. New Generation IT Service Management Tools Part 2: Multi-Cloud Management
  2. How to Get on Top of Cloud Billing
  3. Sourcing Monthly April 2020 – May 2020

The Latest

5 December 2020: Australian education solution vendor Tribal, has upgraded its digital learning design chatbot. The move is illustrative of how chatbots can be leveraged to aid complex tasks - in this case, learning content, delivery, and leaner coaching.

Why it’s Important

Chatbots are not unique to Tribal. However, Tribal is demonstrating how such agents can deliver new capabilities into the LMS market, which can be glacial in the adoption of innovation. The Tribal chatbot is aimed at improving knowledge transfer inside an organisation. It assists domain experts to build learning content and share knowledge by recommending approaches to online training.

Who’s Impacted

  • CIO / CTO
  • Service delivery teams 

What’s Next?

Like most forms of AI, chatbots will make their way into organisations through their addition to existing software solutions, either via paid upgrades or as part of the ongoing improvements of SaaS solutions. Chatbots will increasingly act in an advisory manner or as a guide for complex processes inherent in the vendors’ solutions. 

As a result of this trend, staff will be presented with a growing number of chatbots embedded in different vendor’s solutions, each serving a specific purpose. This itself will present a new challenge for digital maturity and staff satisfaction.

Related IBRS Advisory

The Latest

2 December 2020: Salesforce Einstein is being extended into the Mulesoft automation and data integration platform. The newly announced Flow Orchestrator enabled non-technical staff to transform complex processes into industry-relevant events. The new AI-assisted MuleSoft Composer for Salesforce will allow an organisation to integrate data from multiple systems, including third-party solutions.

Why it’s Important

AI enables business process automation as a key technology enabler that favours organisations with a Cloud-first architecture. Salesforce will leverage its experience and connections with selling to organisation’s non-IT executives to secure a strong ‘brand leadership’ position in this space.

Who’s Impacted

  • CIOs
  • CTOs
  • CRM Leaders

What’s Next?

In mid-2019, IBRS noted a significant upswing in interest in Mulesoft and integration technologies more broadly from the non-ICT board-level executives. In particular, COOs and CFOs expressed strong interest in, and awareness of, process automation through APIs.  

Digging deeper, IBRS finds that Salesforce account teams, who are well-known for bypassing the CIO and targeting senior executive stakeholders, are also bringing Mulesoft into the business conversation. Also, Microsoft is expected to double-down on AI-enabled business process automation with the PowerPlatform. 

As a result, the addition of Salesforce Einstein AI into the discussion of automation and integration is expected to land very well with COOs and CFOs. 

CIOs need to be ready to have sophisticated discussions with these two roles regarding the potential for AI in process automation. Expectations will be high. Understanding the possible challenges of implementing such a system takes careful consideration. CIOs should be ready to build a business case for AI-enabled business process automation.

Related IBRS Advisory