4 of the biggest operational challenges leaders face
Post-pandemic, working life is far from a walk in the park for today’s IT and operational leaders. As a recession looms and it becomes harder to find the right talent, we’re taking a look at some of the biggest operational challenges that business leaders will face in 2023.
Challenge 1: Talent Shortages
The Future of Work 2022 report conducted by Monster has found that 87% of employees struggle to find IT talent. Software developers and analysts are among the most in-demand roles, and the rise of hybrid working and digital transformation has led to a need for specialist skills. The demand is greater than the supply, which in turn has driven up hiring costs and the standard of the benefits package. With businesses not immune to the cost of living crisis, the need to bridge the gap, find the right talent and stick to budgets is complicated to say the least.
According to research from Forbes, there are a number of significant global factors impacting on the ability for businesses to recruit new talent in the right areas, including inflationary pressures and the effects of the on-going recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic recession.
All this news comes as industries begin to recognize that they can operate much more efficiently by introducing IT and engineering more heavily into business, improving efficiencies and developing the role of automation to link previously siloed teams.
As talent shortages become a reality, the creation and growth of digital platforms essential to flourishing in a competitive marketplace also slows - making difficulties in recruitment directly impact on a company's bottom line, and creating an exponential demand for operational and IT resources.
A new survey from Gartner, Inc provides further detail, suggesting that IT executives see the talent shortage as the most significant barrier to adoption of up to 64% of emerging technologies, compared with just 4% in 2020. A lack of talent availability was cited far more often than other barriers, such as implementation cost (29%) or security risk (7%) The survey also suggests that talent availability is a leading factor inhibiting technology adoption among six key domains that would usually be at the forefront of digital progress – infrastructure and platform services, network, security, digital workplace, IT automation and storage and database - demonstrating the stalling effect that talent shortages can have on operations.
Challenge 2: Digital transformation
Most businesses are on a digital transformation journey of some kind whether it be automating processes, improving the customer experience and/or moving to a centralised system. The trouble is, even if you know what you want to do, often you don’t have the budget or talent in place to action your digital transformation strategy.
Lack of training and employee engagement can also often be a significant blocker to digital transformation, something that IT and operations leaders can only overcome with sufficient time investments in their teams. New technology and processes will always have a steep learning curve, so having the right knowledge in the organisation means being able to use the appropriate tools to your advantage. Employees must have buy-in to these new changes, alongside proper training on new technology and processes.
Digital transformation can also run into difficulties due to a rushed testing / proof of concept period. The bigger the project, the quicker stakeholders often want to see a return on investment. Also, the more important or the bigger the project, the greater the temptation to reveal it as quickly as possible in order to capitalise on outside interest as well as meeting operational challenges internally.
Challenge 3: Recession
In the UK, inflation reached 11% in October 2022 and the Bank of England predicts that in 2023 the economy will shrink by 0.25%. In business terms, this equates to trying to do more with less. However, with rising talent costs, supply chain issues and the need to digitally transform, this isn’t an easy feat.
Operational leaders will need to look at ways they can streamline or automate processes internally to speed up efficiency and free up more team capacity.
When budgets are impacted, businesses often remove support for new projects such as digital transformation or introduce a hiring freeze until the recession has passed (or its impact is no longer as strong for the business in question). The challenge for operational leaders is to maintain their commitment to driving positive transformation for their companies, while battling with these macro economical factors.
Challenge 4: Visibility & autonomy
With everything considered, it’s super important for operational leaders to be able to see what’s going on so they can identify the bottlenecks, see where resources need to be allocated and improve the customer experience. Too often though, businesses are working on ancient legacy systems and across multiple platforms, making it very difficult to see where the strengths and weaknesses lie.
Without full visibility and a bird’s eye view of everything going on, it’s really hard to make a meaningful difference and fix the operational gaps. Often, companies also waste time on accountability as it’s not clear who is dealing with what work and the communication lines are blurred across multiple channels and work streams.
Having a clear view of operations and the autonomy to change it using a centralised platform for all work streams will become more and more imperative. Using one system also makes it much easier to get actionable insights on metrics such as average ticket completion time or customer satisfaction score.
Enate allows you to view, manage and optimise workflows using one end-to-end platform, so you can organise your operations and become more efficient. On average, Enate customers free up 20% more team capacity using our tool.
Operational Soup is a term we use when work is being carried out, but businesses have little idea how much, by whom or exactly how it is processed.
Start orchestration in departments with strong use-cases to deliver value quickly. Often, good examples can be found in back/middle office process areas that have high variation and complexity such as finance or HR operations. Recent intelligence sourced through process mining suggests 80%+ of the work performed in a shared services organization is not performed in the ERP systems, but rather in Excel or Outlook. This is where Orchestration thrives.
Having orchestration implemented across our departments can be likened to having x-ray vision into your operations.
Global Head of Operations at TMF
Almost half of banking and investment CIOs (49%) and insurance CIOs (44%) indicated that they will increase their automation investments in 2021.
Source: Gartner, 2021