Chris Brahm: Process Innovation in a Digital World



With recent digital innovations, now is the time for organizations to rethink the way work gets done. Chris Brahm, a partner in the Advanced Analytics practice, discusses how digital technologies have increased the scope and power of process reengineering.

Read the Bain Brief: Process Innovation in a Digital World

Read the transcript below.

CHRIS BRAHM: Process reengineering has been around for a few decades. And it used to be simplify, automate, eliminate. A fairly simple prescription. But that was before a lot of the most recent digital innovations had come into play, where you can actually reimagine processes in ways that you couldn't before.

You can source, literally, any capability—whether it's web design, whether it's financial accounting, whether it's legal services—on the web, at scale, very quickly, and with very high confidence in the quality of those results. You can understand analytically how to tailor a process for greater efficiency at a particular step through Big Data and analytics in a way you couldn't have before.

There are so many aspects of digital technology today that enable completely different processes. People talk a lot about Uber. They've automated management. They have hundreds of thousands of employees being managed through software as opposed to human interaction. And those people get their jobs, they get their reviews, they get their compensation all through an automated interface.

The opportunities here to rethink how work gets done and how processes are built are extraordinary. The principles around reengineering have changed with digital technology. It's no longer just eliminate, simplify, automate. It's simplicity—rethinking with a blank sheet: make intelligent, share resources, automate where necessary, and enable all those capabilities in real time.

The fundamental process by which you reengineer and rethink business processes may be similar, but the tools you're using to do it and the flexibility you have to reimagine processes has changed, because the toolset is so much broader with digital. So [with] all these things enabled by digital technology, you can take a different approach to reengineering. And in fact, it's now time for many organizations to start thinking about reengineering their processes.