Wilhelm Greeff, business manager for business productivity solutions at Decision Inc.

In the digital economy, business productivity solutions (BPS) have become essential to running an effective organisation. While various industries (like banking, supply chain, and FMCG) have readily embraced automation of their business processes, others (such as mining) are still very much pen-and-paper driven.

Not only must companies adopt a culture of change, but even those who have already done so still need to constantly scrutinise how best to remain efficient and competitive. This essentially means remaining open to change and always looking to improve what you deem to be business-as-usual. Utilising IT systems may just be part of the answer. The bigger concern is all about whether an attitude of change is embedded in a company’s culture.

So, what are business productivity solutions? It can be anything (system or non-system based) that changes the way you run your business to become more efficient. Simply changing the way in which certain tasks are performed to become more efficient can be regarded as a business productivity solution. When referring to IT systems this can be anything as basic as a intranet that allows for improved employee communication and engagement to complex, bespoke developed line-of-business systems that automate and drive entire businesses.

South Africa is in the fortunate position that as technology has evolved, it has become more integrated into many businesses by default. The challenge going forward is to align it with the strategic requirements of the organisation.

Solutions for change

Contrary to popular belief, South Africa is on par (and in certain instances leading) with other countries when it comes to development. Our online banking mechanism is just one example where we are ahead of many First World countries. Some of the features that many of us take for granted on our banking apps have only just been released in ‘more technologically advanced’ countries.

Changing technologies and business optimisation are things that transcend national boundaries. For as long as you have people and processes in place, there will always be ways to change, improve, and be more efficient. This does require a different way of thinking about business productivity at its core. After all, it is not just about the technology but about the human element and how you solve its never-ending challenges and requirements.

Accessibility of technology

A big driver in this environment is self-service technology such as Power BI, Nintex, and similar platforms. With these, more employees can design and build their own ‘solutions’ through which to access data, automate processes, and generate business intelligence previous only accessible by using a service provider to build these for them.

In the past, a developer was required to build workflows, business logic, and other components into systems that could be utilised by business users. Today, the power is firmly in the hands of the end-user.

The momentum is there with growth also shown on the mobile solutions side. Again, there are now platforms that enable non-technical users to start building mobile apps and even complex business processes.

While companies are still balancing the need to keep costs down with adopting new technologies to become more efficient, BPS becomes an enabler to gain a return on investment. It serves to provide companies with solutions that not only reduce expenses, but also improve processes and efficiency across the enterprise.

Ultimately, the way of thinking about business productivity across industry sectors need to change. This requires those companies that have traditionally not been focused on automation and making the lives of their users easier to be more open to change. It is about incorporating new ways of identifying solutions that help meet the requirements of industries across the board.