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The Future Of Workflow Is Here

We’re on the verge of a defining moment in the evolution of work. Our core assumptions about how we spend a third of our lives and what it means for professionals are changing as we speak driven by a workforce that expects convenient, relevant, and responsive experiences. What impact will the future workflow have on professionals and how will organizations create them?

In 1965, email was invented as a way of leaving messages among different users on the same computer. The medium proved so useful, it not only predates the internet by a wide margin, it spawned the advent of the internet itself. The impact electronic mail would have on the way we work and communicate, was, at the time, unimaginable. 

Today, we’re on the verge of another defining moment in the evolution of work. Our core assumptions about how we spend a third of our lives and what it means for professionals are changing as we speak, driven by a workforce that expects convenient, relevant, and responsive experiences. While we’ve all become connected customers in our personal lives – with mobile phone and tablet apps taking the pain out of life admin tasks – as professionals, we have come to expect the same advanced technology in our work-life. Organizations are currently engineering an overhaul of the workflow as we know it to create these convenient, relevant, and responsive experiences in the workplace; and their use of advanced technologies is set to radically alter our notions of work.

The workflow revolution

According to Cal Newport, author of Deep Work, the role of multi-tasking in the future is not in removing technology but in developing new workflows. In his book, the Georgetown University Professor suggests that our hyperactive hive-mind is responsible for draining us at work and focus, not multitasking, will be the new IQ in the modern workplace. The Hungarian-American psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi argues that working in flow leads to enjoyment and higher levels of satisfaction, in his seminal book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. In other words, the future workplace is poised to surrender us to a positive state, leading to more innovation and job satisfaction, should we let advanced technology put an end to mundane multitasking.

A simple glance at the software-as-a-service market shows an apparent upsurge in companies that have made new and improved workflows center to their franchise. The likes of Salesforce, Workday, and IBM use cloud, mobility, data analytics, and social business, or what International Data Corporation (IDC) identifies as 3rd platform technologies, to craft new workflows for professionals. These technologies are also proving critical in improving customer experiences in the workplace and individual industries. As Nancy McKinstry, CEO at Wolters Kluwer, recently noted, “We’re experiencing an evolution from static information to dynamic information. At Wolters Kluwer, we are in the professionals’ workflow, which is imperative for us to provide them with expert solutions that demonstrate a measurable impact, whether it be saving the individual’s productivity or getting a better outcome.”

What exactly constitutes this workflow revolution? According to a recent IDC study, advanced technologies account for a 30 percent reduction in the time professionals spend on document-intensive processes and a 30 to 40 percent reduction in errors. In terms of improving the productivity flow, advanced technologies have led to a 25 to 30 percent increase in productivity. Another study estimates that business executives and managers stand to create a 36 percent increase in revenue and a 30 percent cost reduction, thanks to advanced technology.

At Wolters Kluwer, we believe creating the future of optimal workflow relies on four interdependent pillars:

 
 

Customer co-creation

In this new model, we propose developing optimal workflows through a co-creation model. We work alongside professionals to identify their needs, not just their wants, by focusing on the internal and external challenges they face.
 
 

Innovation and testing

Previously, the purpose of applying advanced technologies was to cut costs or create new verticals to diversify. Instead, we propose investing in ideation, testing and measuring workflow solutions to engineer the critical workflow impact professionals need.
 
 

Deep knowledge

Workflows produce a lot of data. Our data scientists employ advanced technology to extract actionable insights from data. We work with our teams of industry experts to integrate these insights into a seamless, digital experiences.
 
 

Platform technologies

The new model involves using a host of complementary platform technologies to create the ideal ecosystem for professionals.

AI is helping humans do things better

The hype surrounding artificial intelligence has caused a narrowing of its perceived benefits for many. The common AI trope is that of the robots taking over but the vast applications of artificial intelligence are redefining industries and helping humans in our everyday lives. Microsoft Corporate Vice President Steve Guggenheimer has said, “We don’t think of AI in the context of an app, workload or process but instead as a transformative technology that will change how we do things in the future. When computers can draw conclusions from imperfect data, interpret meaning from text and interact with humans in more natural ways, it opens new possibilities than what existed before. AI today is already starting to make people more efficient at work, and we are just scratching the surface of how AI can be used.”

Where traditionally, organizations silo all the information produced throughout the workflow, AI can be used to transform it into insight by making it intuitive, actionable knowledge. At Wolters Kluwer, our innovation activities have allowed us to convert this data into insights, making use of it in the larger picture. “Decades of serving professionals have allowed us to assemble massive bodies of law, regulations, industry interpretations, which we use to curate and package what matters when it matters to unique situations and professionals,” notes Sandeep Sacheti, Executive Vice President of Customer Information Management and Operational Excellence at Wolters Kluwer. Greg Merkle, Vice President of User Experience and Engagement at Wolters Kluwer, spoke on the value of these data insights in 2018, “We all want insights and we often ask people for their opinions or reflections on our personal lives. But we can also ask systems for these. We have to demystify what AI is and talk about its capabilities.” notes Greg Merkle, Vice President of User Experience and Engagement at Wolters Kluwer.

The increasing adoption of advanced technologies has also started to address societal challenges in areas from health to managing legal and regulatory changes.

Healthcare

Access to healthcare for the general population is becoming unsustainable with US healthcare spending rising from around 18 percent of GDP in 2016 to a projected 20 percent by 2025. Healthcare executives are faced with more regulatory pressures, rapidly advancing digital healthcare and the delivery of patient-centered care outside of medical facilities.
Wolters Kluwer applies artificial intelligence and smarter data analytics to make healthcare information actionable, bridging gaps to decrease care variation, improving patient outcomes, reducing error rates, and increasing clinical and financial efficiency.

Tax and Accounting

In 2019, tax and accounting professionals will be tasked with staying on top of complex tax changes, getting clients on board with new technology, and a move towards international reporting standards.
Wolters Kluwer solutions integrate artificial intelligence, machine learning, and cognitive computing to empower accounting and audit firms, professionals, businesses and governmental authorities to unify their finance processes, harness their data for confident decision-making, and reduce manual work.

Governance, Risk, and Compliance

In recent years, banks, credit unions, and savings and loans have cited increased anxiety in managing changing regulations and regulators’ demand for growing datasets. They have reported increases in competition and a need for deeper business insight from financial institutions, according to the 2018 Regulatory and Risk Management Indicator Survey.

Our expert solutions help legal and finance professionals ensure compliance with regulatory and legal obligations, manage risk, increase efficiency, and produce improved business outcomes.

Legal and regulatory

In the last decade, artificial intelligence in the legal industry has been used to manage and maximize efficiency in content discovery, compliance, and research. Today, Wolters Kluwer uses artificial intelligence as a strategy to identify threats and capitalize on opportunities, helping professionals improve service, increase productivity, predict outcomes, reduce risks, negotiate deals, and drive higher profitability.

A net positive outlook

By 2022, the skills required to perform most jobs will have shifted significantly because of advanced technologies. While professionals will need to grapple with new skills and working with machines in the workplace, the World Economic Forum (WEF) predict that around 30 percent of activities in 60 percent of all occupations could become automated in the future, in The Future Jobs Report. However, even as professionals are displaced there will be a demand for workers in new positions. WEF’s study on the scenarios for labor demand in 2030 suggests that 75 million current job roles may disappear to the division of labor between humans, machines, and algorithms. They also estimate that 133 million new job roles may emerge. In his book, A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future, behavioral scientist Daniel Pink predicted that the advent of AI would pave the path to a future where conceptual thinkers would rule.

At Wolters Kluwer, we recognize how this development, exacerbated by an increasingly complex regulatory and economic climate, presents a pressing challenge. We apply predictive analytics, machine learning, natural language processing, and human expertise to solve these challenges. Our in-house innovation labs and central technology organization work closely with professionals to help evolve their workflows by delivering actionable insights and seamless digital experiences.

We are living in a time where machines are creating seamless digital experiences in our personal lives. Individuals in the workforce are increasingly expecting their work-life to mimic their own lives, spurring what has been coined the consumerization of the enterprise – with workflows undergoing rapid innovation to provide professionals with seamless digital experiences. From doctors and educators to lawyers and investors, evolved workflows are more critical than ever as organizations face the reality of rapid technological changes and a more demanding workforce.

Learn more about the Wolters Kluwer 2019-2021 strategy, Accelerating Our Value