The Cloud & SaaS Awards Team talked with Tonkean’s CEO and Co-founder Sagi Eliyahu, who says emphatically: “The Key to Powerful Innovation? Empower Your People!”
“The potential of increasingly powerful, no-code and automation-enabled business operations platforms to effect positive, organizational change today is great. Certain platforms possess the capacity to help organizations increase efficiency, become more adaptive, and accelerate sales velocity. To use them to such ends, though, business leaders must go about implementing and utilizing them strategically, and as just one piece of a larger operational puzzle. Credence must be lent to the impact that the new technology might have on your operational infrastructure—or, the internal ecosystem of people, processes and systems that drive production inside companies—as a whole.
“This is because the people, processes, and systems that make up your operational infrastructure are interconnected and inherently symbiotic. No function today operates in a silo. Technology solutions—even those that are uniquely powerful—implemented with a mind for improving just one component of a pre-existing process can end up shifting bottlenecks to another area of the process in question. In doing so, it can encumber the very employees that it should, ideally, augment and empower. Efforts to infuse new technology solutions into your operations, then, must be structural and holistic in scope.
“The good news is, if you are strategic and considerate in the way you think about implementing something like a no-code automation platform, the benefits can indeed be game-changing. There are two key things to keep in mind:
1) Who inside your organization will ultimately be in charge of designing and managing the implementation of the automation platform in question so that it’s holistically beneficial?
“The answer, 100 percent of the time, should involve business operations teams. Operations teams—be they revenue operations, legal operations, or IT—exist at the cornerstone of your organization. They’re the ones who manage the intersection of people, systems and processes that power companies. As such, they’re uniquely equipped with the insight and understanding required of using new technology to successfully augment those people, processes and systems.
“If your organization were a football team, your operations leaders would consist of the offensive and defensive coordinators, and perhaps even the general manager. They’re the folks who determine how employees interact with each other and spend their time. Automating or optimizing elements of your operational infrastructure amounts to changing your company’s playbook. That’s a responsibility you should only endow to team members who have a thorough understanding of how the individual components of your company work in tandem, as well as how one change inevitably begets others.
2) Innovative software is only valuable insofar as it empowers people.
“People-centric workflows—requiring skills like empathy, decision-making, etc.—make up a huge percentage of business processes. As such, the impact of new technology like automation solutions, no-code app builders, or efficiency tools must be measured in accordance with how meaningfully they optimize the people your workflows guide and inform.
“The new tech in question must be used dynamically, which is to say in a number of strategic ways, and always with the goal of increasing the capacity of people. Automation solutions, for example, must be capable of not only automating individual tasks, but of adapting and catering to the varied needs and general unpredictability of employees. They should optimize your company’s workflows to save your employees the most time, allowing them to focus most purposefully on the things they’re best at. (In addition to equipping your people with everything they need to be able to respond quickly and impactfully come disruptions to their day-to-day routines.)
“In the future, the real technological game changers for enterprises will be platforms that enable operations teams to create human-centric processes that do just that. Business operations platforms that can adapt to dynamic processes and automate in a way that keeps humans in the loop—or, appreciates human input for decision points and dynamic processes—in particular are what the world really needs to see.
“Speaking of the future, there’s no doubt that new technologies like automation, no-code, and Adaptive Business Operations will play a massive role in designing the future of work—both in the granular sense of how employees spend their time, and in the more macro way business leaders go about growing and scaling their operations. But that’s only if such technology is used in a way befitting its potential and to ends that put people and efficiency first.
“A change in mindset might be required to position ourselves to do that in the context of our organizations. Most business leaders go about utilizing innovations as but newer, more capable replacements of their older way of doing things. Certainly this is the case in the knowledge industry, where we replaced inputting data by hand on paper with inputting data with keyboards on a spreadsheet; where we replaced storing records in filing cabinets with storing documents in the cloud—just for example. While both spreadsheets and the cloud increased efficiency to an extent, neither innovation liberated us from mundane, menial, or time-consuming work.
“To move closer to doing that, something more than either innovation or even meaningful singular efficiency gains are needed. What’s required is a holistic commitment to increasing efficiency and effectiveness systematically, operationally, and continuously—over time, and over the course of many innovations. On our laptops and in our pockets, we all enjoy access to packaged pieces of software that are cheaper and more powerful than ever before— yet, our employees today spend more time compensating for the limitations of these new tools than they do benefitting from their functionality.
“We’re at a moment in time where we have the power to change that dynamic, and usher in a new standard for how we use technology to empower and liberate people to drive true efficiency gains inside our companies.
“I believe it’s important for societal reasons that we seize this opportunity and take serious efforts to reflect and change our mindset when it comes to innovation and tech. In time, it will also prove a means of differentiation, however. We know this from history. As James Couzens—a former executive of the Ford Motor Company, who played a pivotal role in instituting historic pay raises in Ford assembly plants—put it to an interviewer in the 1910s:
“The corporation that treats every individual employee as if he were an individual and an entity, instead of just a number, will soon find that it has a soul, and can do things which its less intelligent competitor cannot do.”