Operational transformation is getting harder to deliver well, with increasing global volatility and escalating business complexity. In a perfect world, a company’s day-to-day operations should be managed for peak performance, so the company can maximise its profits while minimising its risks and costs. To deliver this, organisations need technologies that help them scale and flex their operation cost-effectively.
A new generation of knowledge-work technologies are enabling human expertise to be embedded in business systems. This is leading to more efficient and consistent knowledge-work where computers make human-like decisions.
This may sound like science fiction, but it’s here – right now. Some of these tools are readily accessible to business people, not just to software developers. Any organisation can use these new tools to create smart systems capable of making nuanced decisions at scale, and improve simply by being used.
Traditionally, such systems have required a large team of Business Analysts to understand requirements, and Software Engineers to encode expert knowledge in logical rules. This has previously been an expensive and time-consuming process involving Knowledge Engineers. These are super-human developers with skills in software engineering, mathematics, linguistics and philosophy – the talents traditionally required to capture human knowledge in a system.
This new wave of technologies is finally making it possible for business experts to capture the logic and knowledge required to drive business processes, without having to teach a team of Knowledge Engineers about their field. Visual modelling tools, as provided by platforms like Rainbird, now allow business people to encode their knowledge directly and publish cloud-based tools for others to use. Businesses can also present that know-how as an API for developers to incorporate into a Business Process Management system (BPM).
Analytics also has a critical role to play in driving a cycle of continuous operational improvement. Failure to understand how well operations are functioning can be fatal for any organisation. Knowledge-work automation tools can record how and why outcomes are reached in a way that few systems can. If this is done well, an operation can be seen through x-ray glasses, delivering the insight necessary to drive improvements.
James Duez is Chairman of Rainbird, a new award-winning knowledge work automation technology.