How cloud technology is underpinning operational agility in response to Covid-19

06/05/2020 | News

In the climate of unprecedented accelerated change prompted by the Covid-19 pandemic, almost every organisational business model has been adapted overnight, and with a huge surge in operational demand, means that the need for accelerated ‘operational agility’ has never been so great. 

What has become clear is that organisations who operate with fixed infrastructures, constrained architectures, and in-house software deployments, have been much less able to respond than those who are consuming as-a-service software, delivered from the cloud.

In our business, the pandemic has highlighted not just the value of how our software is delivered, and how easily it can scale, but also what it is that the solution delivers. The way businesses are resourced, the way work is delivered, has rapidly changed, and is unlikely ever to return to its previous state. This ‘new normal’ is driving the need for an intelligent digital workforce which can be aligned to work across any function in a business to complement displaced workers, manage increased demand and create new working models. A digital workforce that can ramp up overnight to absorb unprecedented changes in volume. A digital workforce that can be trained to carry out work never previously required. 

This is exactly what Blue Prism Cloud’s digital workers are able to do; they carry out office-based work emulating the actions of people, acting as a pool of resources companies can direct wherever they need them. Because these digital workers are available direct from the cloud it makes it simpler and faster for companies to employ them to execute work anywhere they are needed. 

The NHS is at the sharp end of having to adapt is operations to deal with the pandemic and many Trusts are leveraging our Digital Workforce to perform activities which allow them to keep frontline carers fighting COVID-19. For example:

 

  • Respiratory data sharing that supports identifying cases and moving data across London
  • Connecting patient administration systems across health systems to improve access to psychological therapies 
  • Automating administrative tasks across the back office to ensure hospitals can offer the most efficient care possible
  • Adapting to an overwhelming rise in requests for eConsultations for a cross-regional general practice partnership that services hundreds of thousands of citizens. By automating a new GP appointment booking process, the practice has reduced the risk of COVID-19 transmission and maintained a safe environment for all patients and staff associated with the practice.
  • Collecting and uploading data to update a central COVID-tracking dashboard across UK prisons to help healthcare workers monitor and administer patients in the prison system.

As a community, NHS Trusts have also been sharing their tried and tested automations using a dedicated Blue Prism Cloud NHS Digital Exchange, allowing them to further accelerate the deployment of these new automations. Reading the CTO, Darren Atkins, at ESNEFT’s blog, is an inspiration of how the NHS is joining forces to put new impactful solutions into production at speed.

In other sectors too we’ve seen our customers draw on intelligent automation to deal with priorities and volumes changing overnight. One energy provider had to cancel thousands of smart meter installation visits and was able to push through this sudden change with its digital workforce.  

When India was forced into a rapid lockdown, one customer’s offshored back-office operations support was cut off but by redeploying virtual workers rapidly to pick up this workload, the company was able to keep operations moving. 

In the US, an American consumer credit reporting agency had to cope with a depleted workforce in its contact centres. In order to keep its commitment to consumers, it deployed digital workers to run a wide range of processes from third party data validation and updating of consumer records to resetting password access. 

Responding to these requirements would have been challenging – perhaps even impossible – had they been operating with fixed in-house technology deployments. The ability to add capacity and scale when constrained by the need to design, procure, deploy and integrate architecture would have significantly limited the ability of these organisations to respond. But a cloud based SaaS has proven, free from these restrictions, a vital underpinning to a rapid response.

This global crisis has pushed us all to re-evaluate what operational agility entails and how critical it is to be responsive to change on a scale we haven’t seen before. The lessons we’ve learned now will guide plans as we emerge from lockdown and define a new normal. We’ve witnessed how the dynamic scaling capacity that cloud offers, coupled with the resource flexibility of a digital workforce allows companies to target sudden challenges faster than ever. It will stand companies in good stead to prepare for an uncertain future.

Terry Walby

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