2021 Process Predictions with Dr. Gero Decker

Written by Lucas de Boer | 4 min read
Published on: December 18th 2020 - Last modified: October 13th, 2022
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Planning for the road ahead is crucial for any business. However, every so often, something comes along that means all your best-laid plans need to be scrapped—as we saw on a global scale in 2020. With businesses now operating in a fundamentally reshaped world, and business transformation recognized as more crucial than ever, Signavio presents Dr. Gero Decker’s process predictions for 2021.

Agility + resilience = success

In 2020, every part of our lives was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the global response. How and where we work, the ways we socialize and connect with others, the physical environments we interact with every day, the technology we use…all sorts of basic assumptions about the way the world works were upended seemingly overnight.

Those organizations that embrace agility and resilience are best-placed to respond to the demands of change, internal and external. Three things allow you to navigate through massive shocks to your business: knowing how you are operating today, understanding where you need to change, and having a strong capability in place to adapt swiftly. These vital pillars also help you prepare for what is ahead.

Dr. Gero Decker’s 2021 process predictions

Process management gets a seat at the table

For many years, process management has been seen as a problem-solving tool, a way to standardize, to enhance efficiency and cut costs. In recent years, forward-thinking organizations were already incorporating process optimization into their strategic planning. 2021 will see this approach expand exponentially. A process-oriented approach will form the basis for businesses determining where they could go, where they want to go, and what they need to do to get there.

(Partly this is in response to the pandemic: if managers and the C-level didn’t understand the value of strong process management pre-COVID-19, they sure do now! In many cases, strong process management was crucial to surviving the impact of dramatically reduced supply lines and similar challenges. I always think of Driscoll’s cross-training efforts as a perfect example of how strong processes help an organization adapt in a crisis.)

From customer excellence to customer obsession

Last year, I predicted that the disconnect between customers and operational excellence initiatives would be a significant challenge for organizations. We are way past that now. As I write my 2021 process predictions, the change is already with us. Businesses need to move past customer service, and into customer excellence.

Understanding exactly what your customers want and need, sometimes even before they do, is the only way to survive and thrive in times of unprecedented change. One study I saw says that no matter what industry you’re in, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator, even before we hit 2021.

It is no longer good enough to improve by 5 or 10% every year. It is our customers who define whether we are still relevant tomorrow, and what business needs are going to look like in the future. That’s why effective customer journey modeling is going to be so crucial to organizations of all shapes and sizes in 2021.

Data-driven as the new normal for process management

Most of the work we do involves some form of technology and therefore leaves a digital trace, so data-driven techniques are already an integral part of process management. In fact, achieving effective business transformation without accurate data is trying to find the light switch in a dark room. You might get there eventually, but being able to see what you’re doing means hitting the wall a whole lot less.

So, the next of my 2021 process predictions is that we will see data turn from a resource into an enabler. The right data already offers the potential to track whether transformations are yielding the desired outcome—that’s the resource approach. Data as an enabler comes into effect when businesses start using data as the fuel for faster decision-making, and even experimentation.

The pandemic has shown us that we cannot wait for weeks to get a certain insight; we need to understand things real time to be able to act quickly and decisively. Data as an enabler means being able to measure the impact of changes in near real-time, so that we can course correct as quickly as needed.

Human-scale (robotic) process automation… at the enterprise level

A strong process foundation is an absolute necessity for effective automation. (This is doubly true if the promises of hyperautomation are to be realized before the end of 2021.) Unfortunately, in many cases, robotic process automation (RPA) has not yet delivered the benefits that many organizations had hoped for.

In 2021, in line with our now more distributed and remote way of working, we will start to see automation deployed in a more targeted way. Operating within an optimized process framework, individual employees will be able to enhance their efficiency and effectiveness by taking advantage of the combination of their own higher-order skills, with the reliability and speed of automation.

And it is not only bots. RPA has received a lot of attention in recent years, but organizations are becoming very smart in choosing the right automation technology for the right use case, simplifying processes ahead of automation and making sure that people and technology work together in harmony.

The new process management professional

One of the crucial responsibilities for process management professionals in 2021 is to prepare for new aspects of their role. Process management is no longer a purely technical discipline; the focus needs to be on communication, demonstrating value, and bringing the process perspective to the decision-making table. As a profession, we need to be ready, and ensure we have a voice when it comes to shaping organizations for the future.

2021 presents an opportunity to think differently about the work we do, to reassess the limitations we face, and be creative in the solutions we develop. The challenge is that we cannot rely on this to come from the organizations within which we work: the commitment to being process-centric, data-driven and customer-obsessed is one that has to start at an individual level.

Process professionals will seize the opportunity presented by the massive changes we saw in 2020, to bring business transformation to the top of the ‘must-do’ list, and make a deep positive impact on our organizations and the world.

Looking forward to 2021

Stay tuned to our blog early next year, to find out some 2021 process predictions from our very own customers! To see how Signavio can help you navigate the future of business transformation, including the principles of customer excellence, contact us or register now for a free 30-day trial of the SAP Signavio Process Transformation Suite.

Published on: December 18th 2020 - Last modified: October 13th, 2022