Less analog, more digital work

Navigating the disruption of work: The last gasps of analog work

Instead of scrambling to return to legacy workflows, companies are embracing well-designed, resilient and transparent digital processes

Vom Slack-Team8. März 2021

This is the fourth installment of a five-part conversation about how work is changing, why it’s changing, and what the people who lead companies and teams can do about it. We hope it spurs some new ideas for your organization, and we invite you to share those ideas with us on the Slack Twitter feed (@SlackHQ).

“Digital transformation” was well underway long before the pandemic hit. But in a few months, the overnight move to 100% remote work accelerated many companies’ transformation by years. One reason seems to be that the “pandemic pivot” exposed the processes that most needed to change: manual, analog processes that relied on things like paper and whiteboards.

Many companies recognized that digitized processes transitioned to WFH mode seamlessly, while manual, paper-based ones didn’t. It was true for both:

  • Back-end processes (when, for instance, the payables team had to go into the office twice a month to write checks)
  • Critical customer-facing ones (when providing refunds or processing claims proved extremely unwieldy)

Many leaders realized that well-designed digital processes are resilient, agile and transparent. Manual ones, however, tend not to be.

“The balance will shift for a priority and a speed around digital transformation that we’ve never seen before. This crisis has demonstrated that if you digitally transform, you’re prepared for these things. If you didn’t, you get stuck in the old world where the world has changed and you’re no longer able to even operate.”

John RoeseCTO, Dell Technologies, May 2020

Read the full guide on Navigating the Disruption of Work here.

The next normal: Leave no process untouched

The acceleration of digital work will change every department and discipline, from sales, customer service and marketing to HR, engineering and finance. But it’s not digitization for its own sake. It’s a considered transformation strategy that takes into account the new realities of work and the new expectations of both customers and employees. That means a wave of new processes that are:

  • Automated, with increasingly zero-touch workflows
  • Integrated, so that applications communicate and share data with other applications
  • Cloud-enabled, without the on-premises admin, overheads and security risks
  • Mobile-first and designed for smartphones, not just desktops
    Mark Drasutis, Chief Digital Officer, IAG, May 2020

    “Business models will have to be rethought. There is so much waste in every system.”

    Mark DrasutisChief Digital Officer, IAG, May 2020

The next imperative: Integrate your work stacks

Manual processes are the easy targets. But there’s another wave of transformation breaking right now: correcting the fragmentation of work caused by application proliferation.

As every department solved its own problems first, software and cloud services took off. The results were remarkable within each swim lane, but we ended up creating silos of data, knowledge and process. The costs of fragmentation were already apparent, but the pandemic put them in a glaring light.

The next wave is all about the integrated work stack, where more and more applications are linked. Think about new ways that applications can work together so that:

  • A threshold crossed in one app can trigger an alert in another
  • A change in status can propagate across all relevant systems, automatically
  • People can easily see into relevant apps without leaving the one they’re already in

Single, app-to-app integrations may work, but they don’t scale. For many companies, a channel-based messaging platform is how a unified work stack comes together.

Shopify, the e-commerce platform for more than 500,000 stores around the world, uses Slack apps and bots to not only unite but delight employees. “Slack is so ingrained in our culture,” says Lisa Madokoro, Shopify’s culture specialist. “It’s one of our cultural mediums for any sort of communication or points of connection.”

Put an app on it

Apps for Slack make it easy for your teams to access key information in channels and push updates back to those very same tools. In fact, 95% of Slack app users say that using apps makes the underlying software more valuable.

At publishing powerhouse Hearst Magazines, Slack apps are used to put data in the hands of employees, from editors and executives to SEO managers and sales reps. Employees can ask the HANS bot what’s trending, which stories Hearst brands have previously published on those topics, and how each piece performed, right in Slack. Data shows that HANS saves employees an average of an hour a day.

By giving your entire organization access to productivity tools, your teams can save time on repetitive tasks by getting work done right from Slack. Every small improvement adds up to a whole lot more time for your team to focus on meaningful work.

The new security challenge

The rise of remote work has coincided with the explosion of work applications, a new generation of cyberattacks and a wave of data privacy laws. It all adds up to a new threat landscape for every company. Security must be woven into the very fabric of the integrated work stack. If it’s an afterthought, it’s too late.

With this in mind, Slack is built with powerful new layers of enterprise-grade security to let you:

  • Meet industry and regional compliance standards
  • Gain increased visibility and control over your data
  • Securely collaborate with external organizations, with Slack Connect

As a business with a full German banking license, Solarisbank has to comply with different sets of regulations. With Slack’s data residency feature, it can tick the box on data storage requirements and make day-to-day communications more efficient, particularly when many people are working from home.

The platform brings the team and its tools together in one place, says Dennis Winter, Solarisbank’s vice president of TechOps: “The openness of Slack—where we have the APIs, where we can integrate certain tooling, where we can create transparency—is a great support if you’re developing a variety of products.”

Our fifth and final acceleration is next: Culture comes first.

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