When creating a culture of innovation, many organizations face hurdles related to talent, capital and time. CIOs and the enterprises they lead are now at an inflection point in the way that humans and technology work together in the business ecosystem, with companies utilizing cognitive automation as a way to shift workflow dynamics and unleash the potential for every employee to be an innovator.
The co-existence between human employees and cognitive systems is creating a new class of digital labor that can enhance human skills and expertise, allowing employees to innovate constantly. Working within this new ecosystem, generalists can behave like specialists, and less experienced employees can perform like seasoned veterans.
As the organization begins laying the groundwork for cognitive automation, key considerations for CIOs can be segmented into four phases.
Innovation discovery. Determine the disruptive impact on your business processes, people and culture. What are the benefits of digital labor? What are the cognitive opportunities across functions? How will employees do their jobs differently? Your innovation discovery should culminate in a clear understanding of these questions.
Vendor landscape. Separate hype from reality and choose the right solution for your needs. Do you need a niche software provider with narrow applications, such as digital assistants for retail customer service? Do you need a vendor for configurable process robotics software? Or is it best to seek a provider of more comprehensive platforms in artificial intelligence and machine learning?
Ultimately vendor selection should align with your strategy for creating enterprise value, balancing short-term quick wins with long-term game changers. Also consider how vendors will complement what your organization can already do by itself.
Strategy and roadmap. Prioritizing use cases can lead to “cognitive moments” that represent transformative opportunities to show how employees will benefit as innovators working with digital labor. This kind of approach creates best practices for the organization as it begins execution.
Implementation. Use a portfolio approach to reduce the risk of your cognitive transformation, while ensuring that the enterprise can extract value from both simple and complex implementations. For example, you might want to start with robotic process automation (RPA) to automate basic tasks, which in turn can support more complex cognitive projects. Cognitive projects take longer to implement but, accordingly, have a higher business impact. Finally, ensure that technology teams use modern design thinking and agile methodologies to drive user adoption at every stage of the implementation roadmap.
Just as critical to sustained success is a model for change management and governance, which should have the full commitment of leadership and underpins all four phases of a cognitive strategy. This model helps ensure that the cognitive automation vision – to transform the enterprise into an engine of unconstrained innovation – becomes a scalable reality, with buy-in from all parts of the organization.
Steven Hill is the U.S. Head of Innovation and Global Head of Innovation & Investments at KPMG LLP, the audit, tax and advisory firm. In these roles, Steve is responsible for the lifecycle of innovation, which includes trends and disruption analysis, organic growth, corporate development/M&A, alliances, knowledge and collaboration management and investment management.
Steve meshes the art and science of innovation to drive market relevance and sustainable growth. Steve’s close connection to market trends and growth strategies has made him a thought leader and change agent on innovation and business transformation.
Steve previously served in several KPMG leadership positions, including U.S. and Global Leader of Innovation for KPMG’s Advisory business, Global Leader for IT Strategy and CIO advisory services, and other major industry and geographic leadership roles.
Prior to joining KPMG, Steve was Managing Director of Strategic Planning for SHL Systemhouse, where he was a contributing architect in the creation of Transformational Outsourcing. Steve also served as consultant at McKinsey & Co. and is a graduate of the United States Merchant Marine Academy.
The opinions expressed in this blog are those of Steven Hill and do not necessarily represent those of IDG Communications, Inc., its parent, subsidiary or affiliated companies.