How Digital Operation can re-focus people on curiosity – key to unlocking innovation?

Dec 02, 2018 Download Case Study


Research has shown that children thrive on curiosity - one of the values that is core of who we are as humans. They are always asking questions to learn about their environment as they grow. They often ask “Why?”  excessively, wanting explanations for everything without any fear of being judged. Their curiosity is at its peak at the age of four or five as they are in a phase of intense learning, absorbing information, and widening their capacity for new information. However, their curiosity begins to take a steady decline as they grow and become more self-conscious and more fearful about asking questions. They also begin to display confidence over curiosity, as they become more comfortable with their environment.  

The phenomenon described above is at play at the workplace, where employees and managers have the tendency to consider their roles as fixed and the business processes and culture as set in stone. Many employees and even managers do not ask enough questions to help them thoroughly understand a problem before jumping into a solution. They accept their tasks as it is assigned and work simply to finish it without questioning the process or asking about overall goals. They are more worried that they may be seen as incompetent or difficult if they voice their opinions or raise questions.

In this post, we are going to briefly introduce digital operation, and provide some context on how it can help people refocus on curiosity - the key to unlocking creativity and innovation.

 

What is Digital Operation?

Digital Operations is leveraging industry-ready digital and automation technologies and applying them to business operations for the purpose of unlocking innovation potential, providing seamless operational experience and driving rapid sustainable business improvement. 

The core capability required for a digital operations is Data Engineering. This capability is critical to linking the data from different processes within operations with the data from other processes such as marketing, sales, finance and HR – to improved operational insight. It can empower operational management to monitor their operation in real-time, automate operational processes and deliver rapid sustainable business process improvement.
Having a digital operations means that there is a strong focus on improving managers and employees operational experience as they interact with different touch points in the business process. 

The companies that are succeeding at digital operations embrace human natures desire to evolve. They embrace employees desire to improve or change their working environment in a way that increases their productivity and job satisfaction


 

How digital operation can encourage curiosity and unlock innovation? 

The most innovative companies today search for curious people who are willing to admit things they don’t know and show interest in what they can learn. That’s because innovation and business growth rely on people who ask questions, challenge established assumptions and ways of thinking, and strive to always learn, progress, and move forward in life. These companies not only find curious people they also empower them with the right tools, practices, knowledge to answer any authorised questions on-demand. 

Today, managers and employees are really working in handcuffs, because they are restricted by legacy systems made available to them by the IT department. These tools, applications and data are often not up to the task, limiting their ability to quickly come up with innovative business improvement ideas.

The underlying technology that is encouraging collaboration and curiosity in the workplace is cloud computing. Cloud computing provides an on-demand environment for developing, testing, delivering and managing software applications, analytics and intelligence without worrying about the underlying infrastructure needed for development. This technology has matured over the years in terms of simplicity, reliability, performance and security, so organizations that held off on early adoption are now in a position to benefit from innovation. 

There are now a number of cloud based solutions that exist today that companies can quickly deploy and start building a digital operation that will encourage curiousity. One key solution is a  “Data Lake” – a centralized repository that allows businesses to store all their structured and unstructured data at any scale. This solution enables the storage and processing of data generated from operational processes as-is, without having to first structure the data. The data is then served to managers and employees on demand, so that they can satisfy their curiosity by running different types of reporting and analytics solutions—from real-time dashboard visualizations to predictive analytics, that can improve decision making agility. 

The great thing about a data lake solution is that it can be designed to suit any business and their analytic requirement and easily configure to integrate nicely with your existing data management systems, minimizing the risk and cost of implementation. The data engineering role is critical in architecting and deploying a data lake solution. This solution will empower management and employees to query operational data for insights, build real-time dashboard and predictive models required to support decision making.

For instance, a manager responsible for a number of vehicles operating across multiple operational sites, had limited visibility of planning and scheduling information for the management and maintenance of those vehicles. The manager required visibility of his fragmented operations so he could properly allocate resources between sites and meet demand requirements without the need for additional resources.  Prior to developing and utilizing a data lake solution for real-time analytics, the analysis effort required to capture a snapshot of the materials and labour supply versus demand was extensive, let-alone the supporting reasons behind any resource surpluses or deficits.  

The real-time analytic capability enabled by the data lake solution, empowered the manager with on-demand insights of the vehicle usage and maintenance information. The data discovery features of the dashboard and analytic solution helped him in identifying and highlighting the contributing factors, causes of delays and ineffective utilisation of resources.

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Summary

Organisations can’t continue to force adoption of tools, applications and data as one size fits all. When organisations accept this, they can start to address the real issues facing managers and employees when it comes to business improvement or innovation. Managers and employees should be empowered to build applications that they’ll not only love to use but one that will encourage curiosity and drive the business forward.

Companies should leverage a data lake to complement, rather than replace, existing data management systems allowing them to build advanced analytic solutions and generate on-demand insight into operational processes.

Data Engineering is a digital operation solutions provider that combines design-thinking practices, agile delivery model and domain knowledge of business operations to rapidly prototype data lake solutions, resulting in quick insights into the size of a return on investment opportunity.  We believe that an empowered workforce having access to seamless business system experiences will organically improve their attitude towards data quality and data fitness. Combine this with the ability to collaborate and answer any authorised question in real-time without relying on information technology specialists, then you will create an environment for accelerated change, what we refer to as rapid business improvement. This system of accelerated change is a central part of what digital operations offers by enabling management to accelerate business improvement and build an innovative culture across the business.

 

Author:

Kelechi Anyaegbu,
Principal Consultant – Intelligent Automation
Data Engineering
 

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