By Hein Taljaard, engagement lead for business productivity solutions at Decision Inc.

Business productivity solutions have evolved significantly in recent years. Even in South Africa, workflow is taken more seriously than in the past when the cost and effort did not justify any value derived from it. But thanks to the arrival of cloud-based productivity solutions, momentum is shifting and companies are looking at embracing a new way of thinking.

In no industry is this change more acutely felt than in mining. Executives are now looking at going beyond the traditional workflow of IT and HR. With platforms and intellectual capital built over the years across governance, health and safety, document control, and others, the industry is ripe for more effective business productivity solutions.

While IT still provides much input on workflow implementation, the decision-making process is one driven by business. In part, this is the result of how compliance requirements have changed and there is an expectation of much more rapid deployment of solutions. Today, it is less about the bits and bytes of software solutions and more on how workflow can improve and help overcome business challenges.

Improving efficiencies

IT is no longer the bottleneck in terms of delivery of workflow. Now, business can take ownership of it and use technology to give more employees access to related solutions.

Fortunately, workload automation is being helped to a certain extent through machine learning. The likes of artificial intelligence and bots will have a bigger role to play when it comes to how employees engage with their companies through productivity solutions.

Companies are more open to new and innovative approaches around workflow. In South Africa, the traditional feelings of fear and intimidation around technology are starting to disappear. The workflow value proposition has changed with the competitive space necessitating the need to adapt to a more connected business environment. It is no longer sustainable to operate inefficiently.

Integration

Technology is now more positioned to assist business with improving workflow and efficiencies. There is much tighter integration across business. The silo approach of the past is not practical. Cross-departmental work is imperative.

For this to work, there needs to be a centralised platform for employees to do their work. It is not so much a case of what happens in the back-end as it is about linking to it, securely and effectively.

As organisations look to automation, more elements from workflow will be used to reduce development cycles. If the business can achieve quick wins, it can focus on the core processes needed to deliver on corporate strategy.

For workflow, the cloud will be a major focus in the months to come. With a large multinational opening data centres in South Africa next year, the impact will be significant. It now becomes compelling to move to the cloud. And for workflow and business productivity, this could see a totally new dynamic where it becomes the priority it should be in business across industry sectors.