Reimagine the future: What we learned at Appian World 2020

The business world that we have left will not be the same one that we go back to.


The business world that we have left will not be the same one that we go back to.

That was the overriding message from Appian World this year, hosted digitally for the first time due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

“We’re going to come back to a slightly changed and different business environment than we left,” said Matt Calkins, CEO of Appian. “And it will be different in a number of ways, but one important way is that we will have come to a new understanding as to the importance of change.”

Covid-19 has been and continues to be a devastating global crisis, forcing businesses, governments and individuals everywhere to rapidly adapt to extreme change. With it, we have seen supply chains buckle, livelihoods wiped out, and a huge increase in demand for digital services and platforms – including remote working. As Darin Cline, EVP of Bank of the West said in his keynote, “We never left work, we just left the building.”

How COVID-19 will continue to affect us

The short-term impact of COVID-19 has been devastating. Overall demand for products and services has declined, travel bans have wrought havoc on logistics and distribution and equipment shortages have caused delays in a number of key industries. Due to the nature of technology, the tech industry has been better suited to adapt and help others do the same. The demand for both hardware and software, including automation tools, that can help businesses operate remotely has seen strong growth. In short, covid-19 has forced many businesses into partial or complete digital transformations that will irrevocably alter the way they operate in the future. 

The short-term outlay for these transformations can seem steep, but the benefits will be tenfold as we begin to recover. In the mid to long-term, we can expect far more demand for cloud platforms, digital supply chains, agile working environments and increased adoption of process automation. The end result will be a happier, healthier, more robust and more productive workforce than has ever existed before. 

A need for a combination of humans and machines in the workforce

The pandemic has forced us to enter a ‘new normal’, and with that comes extraordinary growing pains. The need for automation technology has been steadily increasing but now, with customer service and agility more important than ever, robotic process automation tools are going to be a priority for many businesses. In the keynote led by Accenture, Managing Director David Steuer said that tomorrow’s leaders will need to evolve their systems to be “boundaryless, adaptable and radically human.” We need to build and implement intelligent systems that will learn, improve and scale by themselves, removing friction and liberating human workers to be creative and make decisions faster. When we bring together humans and machines in this way – integrating the agility of the cloud with the pioneering attitude of passionate people doing excellent work – we can reshape the future. 

We must act now

As the saying goes, “The best time to start was yesterday. The second best time is now.” In the short to medium term, businesses need to analyse the impact of the pandemic, rebuild and re-engineer vulnerable supply chains and prioritise business continuity. This means supporting staff, doubling down on customer service and implementing automation tools that will provide digital assistance to overburdened employees. Once we have achieved this, we can then look forwards, building on what worked well during the crisis and evolving our long-term strategy to fit our vision of a reimagined future. 

For more information on RPA and process automation and how they could benefit your business, talk to one of our digital experts today – info@procensol.co.uk

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