But while the whole idea of a “process” is to follow certain rules or steps, best practices need to evolve to keep pace with an organization’s changing needs and to take advantage of new technologies and intelligence.
Enter the concept of Modern Best Practice. Whereas traditional best practice lives in the analog world and offers limited room for improvements, modern best practice exploits new capabilities, all digital, made possible by such technology as cloud computing, mobile, analytics, big data, social media, and the Internet of Things (IoT).
Modern best practice isn’t simply about adhering to a new standard; it’s a mindset. It is flexible, supports growth and innovation, and enables new ways of executing to achieve radically superior performance.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) represents the next frontier in modern best practice. While the term AI is used loosely and generously in the popular press, its implications for process cannot be overstated. AI brings together many key technologies to increase speed and accuracy, and ultimately enable humans to put their time and energy toward activities that continue to move an organization forward, while machine learning intelligence takes care of the rest.
Consider a period close for financial reports. Through machine learning, cloud computing, automation, advanced algorithms, and other technologies, modern finance teams have taken a process that traditionally took weeks and reduced it to a matter of days.
While the process has become primarily digital, it still requires human input to spot anomalies or allow for certain exceptions Artificial Intelligence helps remove some of these roadblocks by learning from human inputs to automatically respond or offer solutions. It removes low-value-add steps from the process and combines its own intelligence to make the process more seamless, more accurate and continuous.
The result: With the introduction of AI software, high-performing companies have the potential to reduce their closing period from days to a fraction of a minute. Real-time period closes are now closer than ever to becoming a reality as well as a new best practice.
Now, take that improvement and replicate it for processes throughout an organization. Consider customer care. Today if a customer raises a complaint on social media, in most cases humans need to address the issue, respond and provide appropriate follow up. While there are some robots that handle some aspect of the interaction, the solution isn’t perfect. It still requires a great deal of human input and oversight. With AI, the system would be capable of responding to new situations based on algorithms – and what it learns from the past.
Human resources is another example. While it’s unlikely that your next hire will be made by a robot, artificial intelligence can improve the selection and interview process by supplementing human intelligence with the insight it gleans; for example, AI robotics can help hiring managers overcome certain biases or recognize subtle patterns that portend successful hires.
To be sure, AI has the potential to help organizations tap into a whole new dimension of efficiency, insight and innovation – artificial intelligence, arguably, the biggest thing to happen in enterprise computing since the cloud. Organizations of all sizes need to plan their IT strategies around adopting AI where it makes sense.
The net-net for all small-to medium-size businesses (SMBs) deploying AI is very positive: AI doesn't replace humans with robots; AI removes low-value tasks and free up entire organizations to be more human.