BUSINESS PROCESSES IN THE AGE OF BIG DATA
BUSINESS PROCESSES IN THE AGE OF BIG DATA
What is BPaaS?
BPaaS involves third-party providers managing entire business processes for an organization, with the aim of improving either cost efficiency, performance or both. Traditionally, this has involved lowering
It has frequently been said that we are living in the age of big data. In fact, it is estimated that by 2020 there will be approximately 5,200 gigabytes (GB) of data for every person in the world. In total, that adds up to around 40 zettabytes1 – 57 times more than every individual grain of sand on every beach in the world. By 2025, this data footprint will have grown more than three-fold to over 150 zettabytes.2 This presents both major challenges and also opportunities for companies across various industry sectors. On the one hand, they will have access to unprecedented levels of information on their businesses, markets and customers. But at the same time they have the monumental task of collecting, processing and making sense of all of this information. And time is running out for companies to get the right processes in place. Consumers have more channels than ever to communicate with companies – be it via paper letters, email, social media, chat-bots or other communication methods. They expect timely and meaningful responses to a wide range of queries and on the channel that is most convenient for them.
Customer expectations have been shaped by the new breed of digital companies transforming the economy, and they increasingly demand a seamless experience from all the companies they interact with. Such expectations have also migrated to the business-to-business (B2B) sector, with companies beginning to demand the same level of service they have been accustomed to when dealing with consumer brands. Meanwhile, competitive pressures mean that businesses have a constant need to improve operational efficiency and effectiveness, and do more with less.
It is estimated that by 2020 there will be approximately 5,200 gigabytes (GB) of data for every person in the world
Source: International Data Corporation (IDC)
As a result, companies need to think strategically about how they can process the information volumes they are receiving, extract and utilize the relevant data, and then accelerate process turnaround and throughput speed. Over the last ten years, however, there have been great advances in processing capability and management. In fact, the last decade has been described by Harvard Business Review, as the age of big data.3 Processors are up to 60 times more efficient than they were ten years ago.4 Cloud computing has also provided greater data storage, at lower costs, and allowed companies to further scale up processing power. Meanwhile, the development of analytics at the edge – which uses algorithms to process data at a sensor or device before it is sent to a centralized location for analysis – is helping companies to process higher volumes of data more efficiently. Artificial intelligence (AI) has also developed rapidly, and is now increasingly capable of not only analyzing
Figure 1: Historical evolution of business process optimization
Processors are up to 60 times more efficient than they were ten years ago
The base of every automation project is structured, digital information
Even though companies are uniquely positioned to process and capitalize on growing data volumes, they are often failing to exploit these opportunities. Today, the task of turning unstructured data (still in the natural form of human communication) into useable digital format is still predominately done manually, which is time consuming, costly and prone to error. The average manual processing time for a 100-page document ranges from two to eight hours.5 Structured, digital information is the bedrock of any automation project, this has to be done efficiently and accurately. Meanwhile, there is typically a lack of integration within the organization that prevents efficient, straight-through-processing. There is no point digitalizing data if it isn’t processed efficiently and made available to back- and front-end systems in a timely fashion.
The execution of business processes is typically split up between different functional roles and depends on a variety of IT systems in the back and front ends. These systems are disjointed and operate in silos, resulting in:
Despite investing more and more resources into processing unstructured information, companies are struggling to bridge the gap between back- and front-end systems or renew legacy IT core systems. Consequently, their data backlog keeps growing and their data processing systems are lagging behind business requirements (market, customers, competitors, disruptors and operational pressure). This easily results in poor customer experience, or vital documents being mislaid or lost, which can lead to problems with compliance, especially if the company handles sensitive information.
1International Data Corporation (IDC), ‘The Digital Universe in 2020: Big Data, Bigger Digital Shadows, and Biggest Growth in the Far East.’ Available at: https://www.emc.com/leadership/digital-universe/2012iview/executive-summary-a-universe-of.htm. Accessed March 2017.
2 International Data Corporation (IDC), ‘Intelligent Business Process Automation:
Enabling a Secure Customer-First Digital Strategy.’ Accessed March 2017.
3Harvard Business Review, ‘How Analytics Has Changed in the Last 10 Years (and How It’s Stayed the Same).’ Available at: https://hbr.org/2017/06/how-analytics-has-changed-in-the-last-10-years-and-how-its-stayed-the-same. Accessed October 2018.
4 Digital Trends, ‘Today’s CPUs are up to 60 times quicker than those sold just a decade ago.’ Available at: https://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/processors-are-up-to-60-times-more-efficient-than-decade-ago/. Accessed October 2018.
5 Hubspot, ‘Wasting valuable time and resources processing unstructured data?’ Available at: http://cdn2.hubspot.net/hub/293735/file-1870449843-pdf/Documents/Sagence_Natural_Lanaguage_Processing_Brochure.pdf?t=1458240790334. Accessed March 2018.