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A peek into how AI will dominate functioning of Next Gen GBS

November 1, 2021

Author: Saswata Kar, Head – Analytics & Data Sciences, Philips GBS | LinkedIn –

Global Business Services or GBS is the collective name given to centralized hubs where big corporations have moved processes that can benefit from centralization, standardization, and automation. The location for these centers is largely governed by cost considerations and talent availability. Most of these GBSs have already moved into the automation stage, where whatever could be easily automated using RPA or other similar means have been completed. However, these solutions are largely “point” solutions with limited efficiencies and productivity improvements. Soon, GBS’s are expected to enable autonomous and simple decision-making processes, monitor processes in near real-time, and predict events prior to them happening thereby sensitizing stakeholders well in advance, changing the course of what happens and ultimately improving the quality of processes. In the medium to long term, it is anticipated that most of the decision making, monitoring, prediction and ultimately continuous improvements will be managed by self-learning algorithms, which in todays’ dialect is referred to as – AI.

For GBSs to evolve to these likely near/long – term future and be successful, they need to possess certain minimum prerequisites to give them that extra edge over other organizations. These prerequisites are no different than what distinguishes an extraordinary organization over one that is struggling to get a foothold in the industry. They are – Top leadership commitment to change and continued focus over years; Willingness to embrace technology at the heart of processes; and Being decisive.

Detailing them further, this vision needs to be further translated in terms of annual planning cycles supported by top leadership continually over the years. Preparations include excellent process documentation from a macro to micro level, having a unified system in place, setting up the right operational and strategic talent, access to sound operational analytics and excellent process mining tools, to name a few. These basics take quite a few years to be established but are essential as success depends on these foundational building blocks.

Like every program, there needs to be a good selection of pilots for the first time so that organizational confidence and a subsequent support structure is built. Sub processes of functions should be selected that have maximum impact on outcomes for the organization. Measuring the baseline performance and deciding on a North Star (via data) is crucial so that success can be celebrated and continuously delivered.

To start with, the program needs to be institutionalized with top leadership support. It will take time if there are process variants and regional variations. Existing baseline metrics such as accuracy, timeliness, customer satisfaction and ongoing manual intervention and other qualitative aspects are important elements to be captured from the program team via a survey. A mindset on change readiness and automation preparedness is also vital. Once these are done, program planning becomes important and needs to be paced, which will help set up the team for success.

Thereafter, process modeling needs to be invoked and studied to see how much granular information is available (usable information). Value stream maps (VSM) are to be created based on granularity available and digital twins of the same process steps need to be visualized to ensure that the minutest step is captured in the VSM as well as the VSM digital twin. Once completed, IT teams should ensure connectivity of the digital twin to the existing process mining platform. The Data Analytics team needs to confirm the rules of data extraction and ensure data architects and business analysts work in tandem to bring out the data twin of the process that gets mapped via process mining. Using suitable statistical measures and careful analysis, areas within the processes are to be discovered, which provides maximum benefit upon simplification. Usually, there is a need for different types of interventions to improve different steps (RPA in some cases, Data Science/predictive analytics in other cases, NLP usage in some other steps or simple elimination of steps and usage of different tools). Teams with the appropriate skills in using such tools need to be brought in, and measurement needs to be done to see whether we achieved the North Star that the organization set out to achieve.

Dedicated and continued leadership of the above-mentioned AI process over all sub processes and functions within GBS will translate into success. However, this will need effective long-term planning and commitment and loads of patience, to see the light at the end of the tunnel and often, the returns are 10X of what was originally estimated. The resulting process will be managed via exceptions only and all the hand overs are eventually expected to be automated, thereby providing time-to-think to future leaders, and move on to newer processes to be AI-ed.

As always, perseverance is the key to success here.  

About the Author:

Saswata Kar is Head of Analytics & Data Sciences for Philips Global Business Services. Philips GBS currently has 5000 employees in 9 sites with 8 functions. He leads the team of Advanced Analytics and Data Sciences to support the Operations and run analytics for partners like Supply Chain, Marketing, Services, Quality & Regulatory, Sales. He is also the Site lead of Bangalore for GBS.

With 18+ years in Advanced Analytics, Data Sciences in Healthcare, Retail Services, Cards, Consumer lending, Mortgages and Auto portfolios , Saswata He has proven track record in improving organizational effectiveness via usage of advanced analysis and Operational excellence practices. He is proficient in handling analyses/tools and techniques to monitor and predict operations performance via superior understanding of key drivers of business. Known as trusted advisor for businesses, Saswata is charismatic yet detail oriented leader with strong communication skills and ability to collaborate well with Boards and committees.

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