From back to front to back again – the back office is back in the forefront of digital transformation initiatives


Top line driven spending

The importance of customer experience is undeniable and we have all witnessed many organisations spending a large amount of their IT budget on the latest digital channel and customer interaction technologies over the last decade.  With finite resources, most sales-driven organisations have prioritised their systems spending to help drive their top line.  Investments into back office to improve effectiveness and process efficiencies appear to have been treated with less significance if not taken the back seat in many organisations.

Back office transformation is back

Recent studies have pointed to a changing trend in mind-set.  Organisations have started to spend a larger portion of their digital transformation IT spends on back office systems.  According to an IDC study, many banks are utilising up to 82% of their digital transformation budget on middle and back office initiatives such as infrastructure, security, and risk management; as well as initiatives that involved in getting better insights into their data.

This re-focusing of IT spends has been driven by a strategic shift in bringing the back office to the forefront of many corporate transformation. Organisations are increasingly exploring the innovative use of technologies such as artificial intelligence and robotic process automation to minimise human interventions in routine tasks, and automation in back office transaction processing, to gain greater process and cost efficiencies as well as productivity.

Full circle

In a sense the corporate world has come full circle – from the early days of ERP systems adoption in the 1990s and business intelligence deployments in early 2000’s, to digital transformation initiatives that aimed at enhancing customer experience to increase their spends; and now the growing quest to leverage tools and technologies that were not previously available to enhance organisations’ capability to deliver a great customer experience whilst increasing back office efficiency, lowering costs and reducing associated risks.   Enhancing enterprise value requires not only the focus to grow company’s top line, but also to address cost efficiencies where savings will go straight to the bottom line.  A dollar saved is better than a dollar earned.

Intelligent document automation

Take the simple example of document automation.  Many would be surprised that with today’s advent of advanced technologies, many organisations are still spending a lot of time finding, drafting, reviewing and filing documents.  Valuable resources are inundated with repetitive and menial tasks where time can be better spent time on more value-adding activities.

Document automation solutions today can deliver better process and cost efficiencies like never before.  It is not just a standalone word processor, document management, content management or records management systems, but all of the above.  An intelligent document automation (sometimes known as document assembly) solution should speed up user assembly of documents through the use of flexible and dynamic templates embedded with pre-programmed rules and logics that guide users through the document creation process with interactive questionnaire.  This can significantly reduce time required to create documents, thereby lowering costs, as well as improving accuracy and consistency of the finished document.  Additionally, the simplicity of the process means that documents can be drafted by individuals with no specialist training or knowledge.  Supported with the necessary workflows, such platforms could also facilitate back-office functions such as legal review and compliance, and customer fulfilment processes such as those in banks.

Investing again in back office

For far too long now back offices had played second fiddle to front office initiatives.  The time has come for organisations to rethink the enterprise value equation and substantially benefit from investing again in tools, systems and technologies that promote accuracy and consistency, drive efficiency gains and cost savings.   It is good to see more organisations’ digital transformation initiatives are putting their back offices back in the forefront again.