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COVID-19: meeting the challenge and adapting – a BPM industry perspective

Certain events and happenings that are not confined to a particular geography, and have the potential to spread fast, can be a turning point in the history of mankind as they alter the social, economic, and behavioral norms. They can also alter the economic landscape in which business organizations operate. The outbreak of the COVID-19 virus is perhaps one such event that can usher in a shift in many aspects of our social and economic life.

Capability analysis for BPM organizations

Dealing with a situation like COVID-19 requires high levels of maturity on the part of business organizations, exhibited in the following capabilities:

  1. Does the current business model have a “variant” that can be executed to protect earnings and minimize risks?
  2. Is the performance management system developed enough to capture and analyze the data that is generated due to such events?
  3. How quickly is the leadership able to infer insights from the data and information collected by the performance management system? This can give business organizations the first-mover advantage to insulate themselves against more risks and gain from hidden opportunities.
  4. What is the workforce mix of a business organization? Is it largely people who can get seriously impacted by such events? Or is it mainly machines that can cope with the situation relatively better and more effectively?
  5. What kind of experience does a business organization create for its stakeholders during such critical times – direct or indirect?

The risk management framework of a business organization must contain actionable strategies, in order to develop on the five key capabilities listed above, to deal with a situation like the COVID-19 outbreak.

As the virus spreads, the following changes will accelerate:

  1. Increase in online spend across products and services. Some sectors may ride this growth curve early, such as education, training, and entertainment, including gaming.
  2. Change in the workforce mix with more bots and robots in employment, than humans, coupled with a distributed workforce.
  3. Emergence of data security and connectivity-related businesses.
  4. Legal and accounting regulations and disclosures, to safeguard the interests of the employees, providers of financial capital, and of the general public.

Key challenges for the BPM industry due to COVID-19

From a BPM industry perspective, COVID-19 is going to be such a turning point. By nature, the demand for BPM industry services is a derived one. Most of the time, such services do not constitute the core businesses of the clients. As a result, cutting down spends on such services is among the first steps that the clients take to trim costs in a crisis situation. This makes the BPM industry vulnerable to risks and its adverse impacts.

How the BPM industry could change, post-COVID-19

The BPM industry will be making a paradigm shift to adjust to this situation. Here is a look at some of the major pointers to that end:

  1. Having a functional business continuity plan will be the key element in every solution design being presented to the clients.
  2. BPM industry players will invest heavily in new technologies that can automate processes, ensure data security, and enable improved connectivity across time and space.
  3. The service catalog of BPM players will undergo a change. With transactional processing being taken over by bots, BPM will scale up in terms of offerings, which will be more tech-centered and data-driven.
  4. With changes in the service catalogue, the skill sets of future employees will be very different. Most of the prospects will be required to have techno-functional skills.
  5. The transactional pricing model will find prominence as it can align costs to fluctuations in volume, and clients will be able to manage their costs as per their activity levels. With the pace of automation accelerating, BPM players must also adjust to it soon.
  6. Investment in facilities like building, employee transportation, and other enabling services will see a reduction over a period of time, as the workforce will be more distributed and will primarily be dominated by bots and robots.

Not all players in the BPM industry will be able to adapt to the changes brought about by this “turning point” and will have to make way for others. Even those who manage to adapt, the journey ahead may not be easy. Learnings will come at a cost and those who can learn will realize the “ROI” and grow. As time passes and more data is collected, we will be able to visualize how the future might look, even as government agencies across the globe fight tirelessly to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.