Operations leaders believe insufficient investment in technology could hold back the effectiveness of their departments to manage expected periods of additional significant change, according to new research by Pegasystems. The global study, conducted by research firm iResearch, surveyed operations leaders from 10 countries in the Americas, Europe, and Asia-Pacific for their thoughts on what the future holds for operations functions over the next five years.
With responsibility for people, budgets, project delivery, transformation, and strategy, operations teams can make or break the success of any modern organization. Notwithstanding this, the research showed 50% of respondents feel that operations does not currently get the level of investment needed to be truly effective. This is despite the fact that nearly two thirds (64%) say additional investment in technology would have a significant transformational impact in both the efficiency and effectiveness of operations teams. Meanwhile, 73% say that the ability to keep up to date with the latest technologies will be key over the course of the next five years, with investment in technology seen as key to building greater resiliency and predictability for operations functions, while also potentially mitigating the impact of the next big disruption.
The study also found that the next five years are predicted to bring a period of additional significant change for operations teams, with technology expected to play a key role in enabling the successful operations functions of tomorrow for those prepared to make the required investment. Some of the expected changes to occur include:
- A move to ubiquitous automation: Seventy-one percent of respondents say the automation of routine administrative and IT tasks will have either a ‘big or transformational’ impact on the operations function over the course of the next five years, while the same percentage also indicated that optimizing workflow through AI and automation will have a similar impact over the same period. This suggests organizations will place greater emphasis on implementing AI-powered decisioning and workflow automation to streamline processes and transform their workflow by reducing inefficiencies and unlocking value.
- The future is hybrid, not zero operations: While many consultants and technologists have predicted that the future of the operations function is ‘zero operations’, in which everything is automated, respondents indicated that a hybrid model, with a mixture of automation and in-person, seems the most likely. Almost one third (29%) say they were already too committed to a hands-on, human approach to fully automate their operations function, while one quarter (26%) say they require a specific person to do perform the role effectively, meaning they are unable to automate.
- Ops leaders will need to become more tech savvy: When asked which competencies will be most important to them in the next three to five years, respondents identified digital and computational skills as the most significant – with one third (32%) citing them as key. Leaders in the operations function will also be required to upskill themselves in other ways, with business strategy (31%) and collaboration (26%) deemed to be important competencies to develop.
- The rise of the ops specialist: The rise of automation and hybrid operations functions will see a greater number of operations specialists. Half of respondents (48%) say they will need to hire more specialists to handle operations work that can’t be automated or digitized, while over one third (36%) say they will reduce the number of generalists in operations roles.
“The next three to five years will be a period of significant change for everyone working in operations teams, with every person on the team asked to adapt the way they work in one way or another,” said Eva Krauss, vice president, strategy & transformation, Pegasystems. “The good news is that the technology is available to both minimize the disruptive impact this can have on the operations function and allow it to thrive. Efficient operations teams provide the backbone of any high-performing organization, and there’s never been a more important time to invest in technology that can set these teams on the path to success.”
To understand how ops is changing in response to the disruptive forces that are shifting how enterprises do business and manage risk, we surveyed 750 operations senior vice presidents, vice presidents, senior directors, directors, senior managers, and managers from 10 countries across the Americas, Europe and Asia-Pacific. Respondents came from key sectors, including Financial Services, Life Sciences, Healthcare, Retail Insurance, Manufacturing, Telecoms, and the Public Sector.