Auto-tech series - EdgeVerve: Shattering systemically sluggish software silos 

This is a guest post for the Computer Weekly Developer Network written by Sateesh Seetharamiah is the CEO of Edge Platforms, EdgeVerve Systems Limited.

Seetharamiah writes in full below as follows…

The human body is one of the most complex systems known to us – and yet, it runs its core processes flawlessly, efficiently and autonomously without any conscious human effort. Billions of cells; collaborating, deeply connected and exchanging information – keeping us alive and at peak performance.

This amazing feat is possible because we have [human autonomous nervous system] mechanisms to sense and synthesise huge volumes of body ‘data’ in the environment so that we can respond, adapt and thwart any risk.

Enterprises, like humans, need this awareness and synchrony to build resilience. The awareness comes from connecting your business in ways you have yet to think about. Misreading the signals or failing to identify information gaps can threaten survival and longevity. 

A connected enterprise is core to building a resilient business that drives shareholder value in the long run.

Disconnected processes

Covid was an eye-opener in many ways and showed us that despite spending billions of dollars on digital transformation, enterprises are still disconnected and siloed. Amidst lockdowns, enterprises struggled with visibility and execution challenges, inventories piled up, customer connections broke down, supply chains were disrupted and employees struggled to stay connected remotely.

Well, if you thought that was disruption, think again. 

What we are about to witness as AI and ML come of age will be far more disruptive [but in many cases positively so]. Just look at what it’s done for drug discovery. We all know drug discovery is a multi-step process that costs billions of dollars and can take decades to show outcomes, right? Well, recently, there was a breakthrough in one of the steps. While traditionally, folding proteins into three-dimensional structures took years, in 2022, AI did it in seconds. From years to seconds! 

What a radical shift in a timeframe.Soon, we’ll see this disruption everywhere as the fast evolution of general-purpose AI pushes more boundaries. We are already seeing it with the meteoric rise of ChatGPT. Intelligent automation will look very different in the coming years and how work gets done in every single enterprise will change radically in every industry.

The question is, are we ready for it?

A study by BCG showed that almost 80% of companies are reactive with operations that are not structured for long-term resilience. While the digital enterprise has undoubtedly come a long way, it’s still bogged down by silos, disjointed processes and data visibility issues. For example, around 35% of supply chain leaders can see only as far as their first-tier suppliers. And for most organisations, only 20% of digital contacts are unassisted, with only 12% having highly integrated digital contact centre platforms.

EdgeVerge’s Seetharamiah: If you think you’ve seen disruption with Covid-19, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

This inability to override data silos is eroding competitive advantage and longevity in the face of new, digital-native businesses. We all know how long it takes for an insurance claim to get paid out – days, weeks, months, even. Today digital native companies are paying claims in a matter of minutes. Banks are opening accounts without any paperwork. Companies are driving tremendous personalisation.  

At the root of such success stories are digital, data-backed, connected platforms that allow them to understand and deliver on customer experience needs.  

It’s not that large organisations don’t have access to this data. They do! But it’s dark data, hidden in innumerable processes or siloed in systems that don’t talk to each other. The problem is compounded by analytic skill gaps and a poor understanding of how data is collected, stored and processed within different departments. 

Shattering silos

Imagine a CPG company where marketing, sales and supply chain functions are connected. Marketing teams have access to state-of-the-art platforms to analyse customer data; sales teams have the most up-to-date data on customer priorities in their CRM; and supply chain teams know what is getting sold where. Together this data can generate more comprehensive insights and drive better business outcomes with near real-time decisions. But lack of operational foresight and poor technology integration prevents enterprises from reaping these benefits.

While no enterprise is immune to data silos – orchestrating a connected enterprise where humanity, AI and automation work together can help mitigate them. If companies can connect these systems, unearth contextual data and generate actionable insights, they will see immediate returns.

For instance, during the pandemic, supply chains were disrupted, most shelves were lying bare and companies didn’t know how to restock them. One of our clients leveraged a connected platform to identify and mobilise inventory and reduced their out-of-stock to less than two days.

Similarly, a leading commercial insurer transformed underwriting by improving information flow from the submission stage and connecting 3rd party data sources. By extracting, validating and enriching information, they unlocked a 5% improvement in the ‘Submission-to-Quote’ ratio and ~15-20% improvement in ‘Quote-to-Bind.’

3-core steps

This success is only possible if we transform the way enterprise data is collected, curated and consumed across end-to-end business processes. Here’s what you can start with:

  1. Build a data framework and architecture.
  2. Establish guidelines for data governance and compliance.
  3. Foster a data-driven culture with executive support.

The problem with most organisations is the tendency to see business outcomes in siloes – be it customer experience, productivity, efficiency, resilience, or anything. When the truth is that to get these outcomes, organisations need end-to-end connectivity – within the enterprise and with their value partners.

Shaping the future for every enterprise will depend less and less on historical data and more on understanding changing customer preferences, innovating faster and orchestrating the entire value chain to execute in short order. To survive and thrive in the digital age, we need a system where processes, people and data work towards a common purpose – enabling pre-emptive action against threats or capitalising on opportunities.

EdgeVerve Systems Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Infosys – the company’s portfolio spans automation (AssistEdge), document AI (XtractEdge) and supply chain (TradeEdge).

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