Cast your mind back to the 1990s: Elton John's "Candle in the Wind," and Whitney Houston was belting out "I will always love you"; with schmaltzy films like "Four Weddings and a Funeral" and the gritty "Trainspotting" both of which were runaway box office
successes; in the 1990s Margaret Thatcher was a still a force to be reckoned with, followed by John Major, then Tony Blair, how the world changes. That leads me seamlessly onto… wait for it…'Off-grid Workflow.'
Firstly, what on earth is off-grid communications and workflow?
Off-grid communications and workflow refers to the communications, process and actions which occur outside mainstream systems which may in themselves be massively fragmented and legacy in nature. There are of course many examples, including the type of interaction
that takes place between customers and suppliers every day, all day - by email, chat, txt or ‘phone calls. One good example of ‘Off-grid’ is in client life-cycle management (CLM) and anti-money laundering (AML); some 30-50% of the communications and workflow
resides outside of the core CLM system. And in this case, the disconnect between the 'Off-grid' and the core system results in regulatory reporting breaches, which severely impacts client communication management and creates massive inefficiencies.
So why is it still an issue, and why aren't we talking about it?
Let's set the scene. Until the 1980s, technology tended to be connected piecemeal – point to point, which has created a myriad of systems that over the years have become unwieldy and not fit for purpose. Unfortunately, they still survive because people are
afraid of the domino effect, which occurs when one tries to disconnect a tiny part of this complex puzzle. The analogy is not dissimilar to Elton John's ‘90s smash hit, Candle In The Wind and the famous words, 'never knowing where to turn when the rain sets
in'. Fast forward some twenty years later, and in IT terms, the rain is now torrential, and the systems are struggling to stay alight. During the ‘90s, we started to layer and isolate various business-critical elements, but these layers were still bespoke
systems, which were not a long-term solution. At the time, most sensible people could see this wasn't the answer, but everyone carried on regardless.
Neither sexy nor exciting
But why? Well, it was because, unlike Whitney Houston or Elton John, this part of the technology ecosystem was neither sexy nor exciting, which meant there was no imperative to change the long-established, but crumbling, status quo. And for those in senior
positions, at the time they were focussed on all things Rock n’ Roll, like global expansion, beating the competition and satisfying the regulators (okay, not completely Rock n’ Roll but you get my drift?).
So, where are we now?
Despite all the Rock n’ Roll hype, today, those responsible for managing legacy systems are firefighting the many issues caused by underinvestment in technology. Unfortunately, despite many attempts to better connect disparate systems with bespoke or commercially
packaged workflow solutions, they continue to fail.
This is an enormous problem and particularly for businesses who have to manage and process vast volumes of inbound customer communications. According to McKinsey, contact centre employees can spend between 30-40 per cent of their time ticking boxes, documenting
transactions, filing, finding and manipulating data or trying to resolve an issue relating to another system or business process. All of which involves unnecessary time, effort, rekeying, and a huge dollop of tedium. Within the claims department of an insurance
company, up to 20 per cent of messages are status update requests. Apart from anything else, this is an ongoing nightmare for Compliance and SLAs – and because of the inefficiencies caused by archaic technology, things get 'lost' in the system and getting
back to a customer (either external or internal) in a timely fashion, armed with meaningful information, is a massive challenge.
The rising star
But fear not, there is an exciting new talent on the scene coming to the rescue. Please welcome the rising star, artificial intelligence (AI). AI is already a stellar performer, empowering a new approach to handling vast volumes of repetitive, error-prone
tasks which require high levels of costly, time-consuming human intervention. By leveraging the power of AI, users are achieving up to 75% effort reductions when managing off-grid communications and workflow.
These are lightweight and fast to implement solutions that deliver rapid results. And what's even better, the AI models are constantly learning, which is proven to supercharge productivity and efficiency across the business. An AI solution in the cloud can
sit on top of the spaghetti systems, and eliminates the need for a major implementation project, meaning the solution can grow incrementally. The operational overhead is minimal, as the management of the solution and the AI model is outsourced. The even greater
thing about AI is that it can seamlessly integrate into a strategic technology transformation project, which one day will hopefully sweep away the limitations, expense and frustrations which outdated infrastructures bring.
Unlike Whitney, we won't always love bespoke legacy systems, in fact, I'm not sure we ever did. But to bastardise the words of Margaret Thatcher, 'If you want something said, ask a man, if you want something done….you can now ask AI!